Dallas Sports Night (n.) – the night in which Dallas teams disappoint their fans.
First, it was the Dallas Cowboys. As the Dallas Stars game was underway, the Cowboys tried to mount their own comeback after finding themselves dug into a hole. They did not come up with the equalizer and were bounced from the playoffs.
Around the time it looked like the Cowboys were going to be successful in their attempt, the Stars looked to be making their own comeback. After an early two-goals were scored against the Stars, they finally scored to cut the lead to one with more than half a period to play in the game. Plenty of time to get an equalizer and salvage a point out of the night.
But that is not how the Dallas Sports Night works. An ill-timed penalty and a power play goal against, the Stars too whimpered into the night to lick their wounds of a loss. And while it isn’t a loss that ends their season, unlike the Cowboys, it is one in which it would be easy to point at if the Stars don’t make the postseason and say “that right there is one of the nights where two points could have made a difference.”
Woof was that first period bad.
There’s almost nothing to write about regarding how the Stars don’t start games well this season. Much like the coaching staff that seems at a loss as to how to change it, it’s hard for me to say what the issue is either because it just seems to manifest differently from game to game. But, you know it when you see it.
This game’s terrible start was thanks to a goal less than a minute into the period. It was a blistering Vladimir Tarasenko shot that sniped right past Ben Bishop after a neutral zone turnover by the Stars. They would follow that up by being outshot and generally just outplayed most of the period. They were outskated, had far fewer high danger scoring chances than the Blues, and lost a lot of one-on-one puck battles.
In short, they were playing terribad.
It didn’t get better as the first half of the period rolled along, with the Blues scoring almost halfway through the period to put their lead at two goals. This one was courtesy of a Blues carry-in into the Stars’ defensive zone where Pat Maroon headed to the net at full speed. He beat Esa Lindell on positioning, and that’s how he was able to tap-in the second goal. The puck found the smallest amount of sunlight between Bishop and the goal post.
Because Bishop has been so good this season, it’s hard to look at that period and say “yes, he was 100% the reason for the early two goal deficit.” He honestly wasn’t. That second goal was one that I would categorize as a “low percentage” play – do it all over again and it may not go in, because Bishop is a big dude and that was a tiny space that the puck found. You could argue that he should have had that first one, but it’s not like the team in front of him was doing their part to stop the bleeding much.
The second frame was better for the Stars, to a degree. They managed to actually out-chance the Blues, though it was off of a lot of the one-and-done variety. The one time that the Stars managed to get a good second chance they generated four of them – it was a scramble at the side of the net where Dallas had several players try to whack the puck home. But alas, that was not meant to be, and the Stars took a 2-0 deficit into the third period.
Dallas did actually draw a power play in the middle frame, but it didn’t last too long as Radek Faksa negated the man advantage with an interference call off a collision with a Blues player near the blueline. Luckily, the penalty kill kept the team from digging a bigger hole on the back side of the 4-on-4 play.
Man, did the Stars give their fans hope for the comeback. They managed to finally penetrate Jordan Binnington and cut the lead in half about halfway through the third period. Recent forward call-up Erik Condra scored a tap-in thanks to Jason Spezza, who was pushed into the Blues goaltender by the opposing team. The Blues challenged the goal for goaltender interference, and the goal was ruled a good one because of the contact by Binnington’s own teammate.
There was a lot of energy injected into the crowd after the goal, and it seemed like Dallas was on track to mount the comeback. Spezza, who gave with the goal, also had a hand in taking it all away when he took an offensive zone penalty. The ensuing penalty kill allowed a goal against, restoring the two goal lead for the Blues and putting the game out of reach altogether.
On this Dallas sports night, the Stars did what Dallas teams seem to do, and failed to meet the pressure of the desperate team they were playing against.