I haven’t quite reached the point where I can laugh at the comedy of errors that this season has turned into for the Dallas Stars. In fact, I still get frustrated watching games like tonight.
Dallas has talent. They just can’t seem to put anything sustainable together this season. And that’s probably why it’s so frustrating for Stars fans — we’ve seen what this team can do with quite a bit of the talent on this roster from last season, and at this point in the year, when wins are so desperately needed, and the same defensive issues seem to give away the points, it’s hard to find positives.
Here’s one: Dallas didn’t allow a goal on the penalty kill. But damn if they didn’t give them up in the most heartbreaking of ways anyway...
Dallas lead in puck possession for the first half of the period, taking advantage of several turnovers by the Senators in their own zone. Unfortunately, possession doesn’t mean much other than a morality boost if goals aren’t scored because of it.
The Stars didn’t do any scoring even thought at one point they led in shots on goal 10-2 over Ottawa.
As Stars games often do, the team dominating the period would go into the break down by two goals. The first goal was a shorthanded goal off of a faceoff in the Stars’ zone. The goal was made possible by Kari Lehtonen’s decision to handle the puck behind his own net, sending the puck straight into the skate of an official. The bounce off of the skate would lead to several shorthanded chances that Lehtonen was able to shut down.
However, the ensuing faceoff would lead to a seeing-eye shot that Lehtonen never saw due to the traffic in front of him.
After that goal, the wind kind of came out of Dallas’ sails. Captain Jamie Benn, looking to give his team some momentum back, dropped gloves against his old nemesis Dion Phaneuf. It was a lot more like some shoving and upper body strength testing than a true fight, but Benn was effective in sending a message to his team.
Or so they thought.
Instead, in true Dallas Stars 2016-2017 fashion, they’d manage to allow another goal against in the most ridiculous manner possible. On a delayed penalty, with Lehtonen pulled for an extra attacker, Jiri Hudler would make a drop pass....that would split right between Dan Hamhuis and John Klingberg for an own goal against. It counts when you score into your own net in that situation, as the other team never had possession of the puck for the whistle to blow the play dead.
And like that, Dallas was losing in typical Dallas fashion.
The Stars demonstrated some good patience in the second frame, coming out much the same way as they did to start the game. They started to get more pucks to the front of the net, and won some puck battles.
After a scrum in which Antoine Roussel received several short punches as he was tied up by the officials (and no penalty called against the perpetrator), Roussel would find himself the beneficiary of a nice backdoor opportunity. He buried the puck, and had a true Roussel celebration with the goal post — a raw emotion scream “YEAH!”
Dallas would find the equalizer a little later in the period when Benn seemingly called his own goal after a faceoff. You could see him discussing the faceoff strategy with John Klingberg. Benn would get the puck at the center of the blueline and absolutely blister one right past Mike Condon.
That’s the kind of leader Jamie Benn is — he leads by example on ice.
Unfortunately, the good feelings did not last too much into the final frame. For the 12th game in a row, the Stars allowed three goals against when Mark Stone would get a wide open wraparound chance. Lehtonen was busy watching the play behind the net and wasn’t able to get over fast enough to the other side to cut off the bottom of the net.
They’d never get the equalizer, but not for lack of trying. Even with a late power play chance, and Jamie Benn et. al. playing basically the entirety of the man advantage, Dallas was dangerous but Condon was more than up to the challenge.
Another missed opportunity for Dallas, as they basically beat themselves tonight.