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Special Teams Sink Stars In 4-1 Loss To Capitals

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The power play never came through and the penalty kill allowed two goals tonight as the Stars lose their fourth game in six so far this season.

Washington Capitals v Dallas Stars Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images

The Dallas Stars know that they need to be better. But you can’t worry about what has happened — you’ve got to be focused on the future.

“This is a big road trip for us,” Tyler Seguin said. “I know it’s going into game seven, but you don’t want to say it’s a playoff game, but, I mean, everyone in here, including myself, needs to have a playoff mentality going on this road trip.”

He continued, “That St. Louis season doesn’t happen every year. It just doesn’t happen. It is more of a, I don’t want to say fluke, but it just doesn’t happen every year. If we think we can get into those shoes and we’re too good of a team to be playing this bad to start the year.”

Jim Montgomery said in the post game that the Washington Capitals were just better than the Stars tonight. No truer words have been spoken in this young season so far.

FIRST PERIOD

If this wasn’t the most Dallas Stars start to a game, I don’t know what is. Just 52 seconds into it, Joel Hanley hi-sticked a Capital in the face and drew blood. That meant a double minor penalty and the Stars went straight to the penalty kill. That’s not going to get anybody into the flow of the game coming so soon into the contest. “With six minutes of penalty kill to start the game, nobody is going to be feeling good,” Tyler Seguin said. “We’ve got to find a better way to get better starts right now.”

Dallas successfully killed the first minor. Then, Tom Wilson struck to put the Capitals up 1-0. I may have seen that one coming....note the timestamp of 6:40 PM. The puck dropped at 7 PM.

Dallas actually challenged the play as they thought that there was a hand pass before the goal was scored. The video team went 5-1 on challenges last season, but lost their first of the year in this one. Due to rule changes implemented for this season, the Stars were assessed a delay of game penalty for losing the challenge, and the Stars were back on the kill.

As the period wore on, Dallas had some pretty good offensive chances, including one of their best shifts of the season so far. Ilya Samsanov came up with this incredible paddle save on one of them:

He was living right during Dallas’ push at the end of the period and kept his team ahead, turning aside all nine shots he faced in the first frame. His team also helped, killing off the Stars’ two power play opportunities by keeping a lot of what Dallas wanted to do to the perimeter during the man advantage.

SECOND PERIOD
Samsanov had a few moments where he had to stand tall early as Dallas tried to press for some offense. He was more than up to the task. Dallas had four power play chances in the second period and scored on none of them. They’re now 1-for-20 on the season.

Dallas was kept to the perimeter on a lot of the power play chances they had tonight. Credit to the penalty killers for that, but part of it was that Dallas never seemed to get a true threat on net. When the power play doesn’t give you momentum, it can have a carry-over effect into even strength play — which is exactly what happened for the Stars tonight.

THIRD PERIOD

Special teams were absolutely killer tonight, and not in a good way. Hanley went to the box due to a holding call. Nicklas Backstrom caught a streaking Evgeny Kuznetsov that hit the zone with some speed and got one past Khudobin.

The Stars were staring down a three goal deficit and were running out of time at any chance of salvaging a point tonight.

Radek Faksa finally broke through to put a little life back into the building and the team. He scored on a fantastic individual effort on a wraparound that Samsanov didn’t appear to expect at all. Faksa circled the net behind him and then fired practically from the goal line.

The goal injected a little life into the team — and the building. The Stars finally started to get some sustained offensive zone time and a few quality looks. Then, an offensive zone penalty killed any momentum Dallas could have grasped after the Capitals iced the puck with very tired players on the ice. Joel L’Esperance committed interference right off the ensuing draw, and that effectively killed any hope of a comeback that Faksa’s goal may have sparked.

Dallas never really found any kind of cohesiveness when it came to the offensive zone (outside of occasional outbursts). The Capitals locked down their two goal lead to break their three game winless streak. (They also got their first regulation win in Dallas in over 20 years, something that has felt due the last couple of seasons if we’re being honest with ourselves.)

While Dallas may have ended the game outshooting the Capitals, a lot of that was score effects from being down for so much of the game. They were mightily out-chanced in quality scoring opportunities in the game. Alex Ovechkin scored an insurance empty-net goal to seal the 4-1 win for the Capitals.

Dallas is now 1-4-1 on the season. Fans are screaming for Jim Montgomery to be fired, for a new captain to be named, or a trade made to mix up the offense for the Stars. The panic is well and truly here in Big D — and the Stars have some questions they need to answer. It’s time for every player and coach in the organization to look in the mirror and find some answers.

“Everyone has to take ownership of the ice time they’re getting, the lack of production maybe they’re giving, and also the lack of energy and emotion they’re giving to the team. And as a coaching staff, we got to look in the mirror, and what are we doing wrong that we don’t get off to better starts?”

October was always going to be a tough schedule for the Stars, but nobody anticipated it would look quite this brutal.