Prior to the game starting, all forwards outside of Martin Hanzal (back) and Radek Faksa (foot) took warmups for the Dallas Stars. That indicated that whomever else was questionable this morning to come out of the lineup and precipitated the call-up of Roope Hintz was able to play. Hintz, up under emergency conditions, participated in warmups and then was promptly assigned back to the Texas Stars (AHL) after it was determined the Stars had a full forward complement to play tonight.
Unfortunately, the injury narrative continued into tonight’s game.
Ben Bishop suffered a lower-body injury in the first period. He’ll be out at least the next two games (tomorrow night versus the Nashville Predators and Friday night’s home contest versus the Anaheim Ducks). He’ll be evaluated more thoroughly and a better timeframe will be given on his injury status later in the week. Since he finished the first period, I’d guess that it’s likely more of a day-to-day or week-to-week thing over something more long-term (though that could also be wishful thinking on my part too).
Esa Lindell, who missed tonight’s contest due to illness, also will not play tomorrow. So the Stars will look to continue trying to match their forwards up to find some chemistry and pull out some points against one of the hottest teams in the league right now.
If you looked up “blah” in the hockey dictionary, the first period of this one might be found there as an illustration of the term. Yes, the Stars power play looked great early in the game, giving them a 1-0 lead after Tyler Seguin’s pass to Jamie Benn waiting on Craig Anderson’s back doorstep glanced in off of Senators blueliner Ben Harpur.
That was one of only two positives for the Stars.
The other was the play of goaltender Ben Bishop. Bishop, who took an awkward tumble to the ice after his own teammate, Dan Hamhuis, was caught off balance and fell onto him, wasn’t injured. He was the key to the Senators putting up a big goose egg in the first period.
Ottawa spent a lot of time in the Stars offensive zone and seemed to dominate the puck possession by the eye test, and is partially validated by their shot attempts in the first (32) and the blocked shots by Dallas (12). You’re not going to block a lot of shots if you have the puck yourself.
Whatever head coach Ken Hitchcock said in the intermission seemed to get the Stars moving better. Overall in the period, the Stars outplayed the Senators. They put up 15 shots on goal versus Ottawa’s eight shots. It’s a good thing they didn’t start off the period as they ended the first, because they were in front of a cold goaltender to begin the middle frame.
Bishop was replaced by Kari Lehtonen from puck drop in the second period. Bishop, who remained in the game after having Hamhuis sit on his leg in the opening frame, was deemed “questionable to return” by Stars PR with the ever-nebulous “lower body injury”. We’ll have to see how serious the injury is, as the Stars travel to Nashville right after the game tonight. If Bishop isn’t healthy enough to serve as the backup, the Stars will likely have to recall a goalie from the Texas Stars on an emergency recall. We’ll likely learn more after the game on this front.
Unfortunately, the Stars were unable to lock down the 1-0 lead they had taken early in the game despite putting a lot of rubber on Anderson.
In their first time on the penalty kill, Tyler Pitlick lost his balance and tried to use his stick to steady himself. The stick broke, and the Senators were able to take advantage of that by penning the Stars into the offensive zone. Without the ability to clear the puck from all four of the guys in green on the ice, Lehtonen was finally beaten in the dying seconds of the period as Mike Hoffman put one top shelf over a sprawling Lehtonen. The game would head into the last period all tied at one.
The Stars looked more like the first period Dallas Stars than the middle frame Dallas Stars, and the Senators made them pay for it. Greg Pateryn went to play the Senator with the puck, who managed to get the shot through him anyway, and then Lehtonen allowed it to get past him right between his arm and his body.
After that goal, the Senators clogged up most of the shooting lanes and were relentless in clearing the puck out of their own zone. They had several looks shorthanded as the Stars failed to capitalize on a delay of game penalty. For the third straight game in a row, the Stars were sitting one goal down with five minutes left in the game and looking for offense to salvage some points out of the contest.
Tyler Seguin made sure they were successful at tying this one up with about a minute left in the third period, much like the last two games.
Erik Karlsson on a breakaway is going to win it nearly every single time, and tonight was no different. Give Dallas credit, they manufactured yet another goal to push a game into overtime. They didn’t play well enough through the entirety of the game to deserve the extra point, so pulling one out is good – but that increases the pressure on the team to pull points out in tougher matchups like tomorrow night’s contest.
The lack of offense during this last stretch has got to be worrying for most Stars fans. They’ve struggled to find two goals most nights. Since February 9th, they’ve scored two or fewer goals in seven of 10 games. That’s not a trend you want to see continue as games get even harder as the regular season clicks by.