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Stars Lose Another Lead, Fall in Shootout to Flames, 3-2

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The Stars’ best effort of the season got them a consolation point, which is something

Calgary Flames v Dallas Stars Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images

The Stars continued their season of one-run wins and losses on Thursday night with a defeat to the Flames in the shootout. They deserved better, if that matters, but you have to make your own breaks in the NHL.

Jamie Benn and Joel L’Esperance scored for Dallas, while Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin each had a goal for the Flames. Johnny Gaudreau had the game-winner in the shootout.

“It’s early in the year. You can’t be result-oriented, but we’re not happy with the result, obviously,” said Jim Montgomery. “That second goal can’t happen to us. We have to manage the game better.”

Jim Montgomery was referring to a turnover by Jamie Benn, who tried to make an extra move as the last man back in the offensive zone, and he ended up losing the puck and giving up an odd-man rush that led to the tying goal.

“We had the effort tonight,” said Benn. “Pretty much the deciding play was my turnover in the third. It’s a stupid play, and it cost us.”

The Stars don’t walk away empty-handed thanks to the loser point, but the shootout loss was a bit of a downer after an effort that, overall, could have started to build some good momentum on the season for the Stars. And maybe it still will. It’s a long season, and the contributions Dallas got from more of the lineup tonight were encouraging.

First Period

The game started out with a chance at both ends, but Seguin’s 2-on-1 pass to Radulov hopped over his stick, then Bishop made a couple of great saves on first and second chances, and the Flames leaned on the Stars pretty heavily for a bit from there.

Joel Hanley had a nice stick block to prevent a cross-crease pass—Montgomery praised Hanley as “reliable” after the game, noting his positioning and defensive aptitude in the postgame presser as well—and Bishop made another great save three minutes in after a Heiskanen failed clear attempt.

But the Stars would get the only chance on special teams of the period, when a Sam Bennett slash on Hintz gave the Stars a chance to turn the tide.

The power play did get a couple of pucks on net with Benn and Pavelski flanking Rittich, but nothing truly dangerous was generated. They looked like a team that needed more movement before the shot instead of just hoping to deflect from the outside of the slot. That’s what the PK wants, really.

Oh, and there were three straight icings to cap it off by the second power play unit, just in case you were wondering.

The period ended with a Hintz wraparound chance on the rebound, but one not wrapped around quickly enough, and things would trickle into the intermission with Dallas having recovered from a one-time 7-2 shot deficit to an even 9-9 count. Ben Bishop was probably the first star of the period, although Alex Radulov also had a great forechecking effort to set up a great possession in the offensive zone.

Second Period

The second line (Hintz, Pavelski and Janmark) had a glorious chance off the rush to start the period, but Hintz, of all people, just fanned on the dunk on a perfect setup from Janmark across the crease.

The Stars then got another chance on the power play early after Johnny Gaudreau got nailed for a holding penalty. Once again, nothing really dangerous was created. Not to fear, though! The Stars would get another chance just minutes later when T.J. Brodie got quarantined for, you guessed it, holding. The third power play’s best chance was more or less its only one, with Seguin getting a wrister on the high slot off the entry, but Rittich handled it with ease, sending the Stars to 0-for-13 on the job to start the season.

The Flames subsequently traded chances at even-strength, with a Sean Monahan one-timer from the slot looking more dangerous than anything Dallas had generated on the job to that point.

The game started to get greasy when Roope Hintz and Johnny Gaudreau nearly obliterated each other in the neutral zone, with Gaudreau bailing out just in time. With Seguin being seemingly hauled down and Janmark having been bumped into the net, you could feel the officials really not wanting to make power plays 4-0 Stars. But when Matthew Tkachuk bumped into Bishop, the officials had to call something, and they did: two minutes on each, one from goalie-bumping, the other for goalie-acting, giving the game a 4-on-4 injection that helped to liven up a contest that had lost its pace by the midway point.

Andrej Sekera made things a little too interesting as the players were released, with an ill-advised loose puck that thankfully was put just wide by the Flames.

The Stars’ third line would be the ones to break the seal, as a back-and-forth sequence ended with a pretty bit of work by Justin Dowling to gain the zone and drop to Faksa, who then found Joel Hanley streaking down the weak side. Joel Hanley got around his defender, who had sprawled to block the pass, and then made a smart little pass to Joel L’Esperance in front of the net for a pretty nice-and-easy Joel-to-Joel tip-in goal.

Dallas then got a chance to finally pull away a bit, when Gaudreau high-sticked Klingberg to give the Stars a fourth kick at the man-advantage can, but players had trouble finding the handle on the late-period ice, with Joe Pavelski in particular failing to get a quality shot on net after a cross-ice pass from Seguin.

Still, it was nice for the Stars to have something to show for a period that generally went their way, with shots ending up at 25-18 Dallas.

Third Period

The third period started about as well as a period can start, with the remnants of the power play providing just enough room for Roope Hintz to take the puck down the wing before finding Benn in the low slot for the captain’s first goal of the season. It wasn’t complicated, but it was the sort of play Dallas had found a few times earlier, but without the clean connection or traffic in front. That goal did what all the other power plays hadn’t, and the Stars suddenly found themselves with some breathing room at 2-0.

And it almost got even better, until it didn’t. Klingberg had a quality effort into the offensive zone that ended with a shot off the crossbar, but then the Flames would get theirs, and how.

Hockey games are never easy things even when they’re going your way. Joe Pavelski would get tagged with a boarding call that wasn’t exactly dangerous, but with the opportunities all lopsided and whatnot, you couldn’t really be surprised by the call. You probably were even less surprised with the result: a simple shot by Elias Lindholm through a well-timed screen by Matthew Tkachuk, and the puck went in behind Bishop to make it 2-1.

Jamie Benn then used up the good will he had just built with the aforementioned reckless toe-drag attempt as the last man in the zone that resulted in Noah Hanifin as the late man cashing in a 4-on-2 chance for Calgary to tie things up.

Dowling was the next person to help the penalty differential, taking a delay of game call. But fortunately for Dallas, some good work on the penalty kill got them through it with the score still even.

They almost un-evened it back up in a good way, when Pavelski nearly found Mattias Janmark on the back door after a quality shift in the offensive zone by the Faksa line, but the puck was tipped just out of play with eight minutes to go.

Ben Bishop had to come up big with a pair of saves on Gaudreau, who became the second player in as many games to turn the corner on Heiskanen. It was a big stop for Bishop, who has had some forgettable moments early this season, and it was enough to ensure at least one point from this game for Dallas.

Overtime

The overtime had a bit of back and forth at first, but the Stars were the more dangerous team by far, with Alex Radulov imposing his will all over the ice. He started things by ripping a shot off the far post, and then he bull-rushed to the boards to retrieve a puck and prevent another clear.

On the back end of that sequence, Ben BIshop came up to the blue line to ensure the Flames couldn’t complete a change after a clearance. It was a smart play that nearly paid off. Bishop also had a big save on a 2-on-1 in overtime, which set up the most dramatic moment of the game, when Radulov muscled his way onto the puck and got dragged down with a clear path to the net, setting up a penalty shot in sudden-death overtime.

Jim Montgomery then made a smart move to call a timeout to let Radulov rest, because, well...just watch for yourself:

But Rittich put the Stars’ hopes to rest with a save on Radulov’s wrist shot, and it was on to the skills & thrills portions of the evening.

Shootout

Tyler Seguin, five-hole. 1-0

Sean Monahan, low blocker. 1-1

Alex Radulov, poke-checked off his stick. 1-1

Matthew Tkachuk, pad save. 1-1

Jamie Benn, forehand, pad save.

Johnny Gaudreau, inside-outside deke with the easy putaway. 2-1 Flames.

***

-Monty said after the game that he feels that guys who have scored in the game have a good feel for shootouts, so he usually goes with them in that case. Radulov and Seguin, Monty confirmed, will go in every shootout.

-Pavelski was throwing everything towards the net tonight. You have to think it’ll pay off eventually, but he still looked a bit frustrated. I think his game is coming along, personally, but there’s a lot of frustration out there, as there usually tends to be for high-dollar additions in the offseason when the team isn’t winning.

-Klingberg had a good rebound game after a mixed effort against Washington. He also said the power play was a lot better for them, generating some good lucks that the team is happier with. If Klingberg can get rolling like he did last fall, this team could become much more dangerous very soon.

-Radulov looked like a man on a mission in this one after a bit of a slow start to the season, for him. It was a tough call to put him in the shootout after being stopped by Rittich once already, but coaches tend to have their minds made up about shootout guys, and I don’t think Radulov is exactly lacking for confidence right now, especially after a game where he was one of the Stars’ best players all night.