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Fatigued Stars Fall to Red Wings, Lose 4-3

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Well that was a thing that happened.

NHL: Dallas Stars at Detroit Red Wings Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Stars rolled into Motor City tonight looking for their first win of the season. The Detroit Red Wings, who won last night in Nashville, were just looking to keep the ball rolling in a season that isn’t expected to be anything stellar. Both teams are on the second half of a back-to-back but one definitely has more cause to be worn out than the other.

The Stars have had a lot of rough patches in the early going. Their recent acquisition from Anaheim has yet to make his Stars debut, and they lost Roman Polak, Jason Dickinson, and Blake Comeau to injury in the first game of the season. Yesterday’s call ups, Rhett Gardner and Nicholas Caamano both had a decent game, and Denis Gurianov earned a spot on the top line.

First period

Unlike the first two games, the Stars made it to the first whistle without a goal against. The Stars also managed to not give up a goal on Detroit’s first shot, which also hasn’t been the case recently. So things were looking up from an early point in the game.

A little over eight minutes into the period, Alexander Radulov went off for a hooking penalty against Jacob de la Rose. Thankfully, it took the Red Wings almost the entire power play to even get a shot on goal. Is their power play that bad or is the Stars penalty kill that good? Time will tell.

A couple of minutes later, Miro Heiskenan clearsed the defensive zone, found Roope Hintz in the neutral zone, and Hintz skated the puck in and went glove side on Red Wings goalie Jonathan Bernier. And thus Hintz became the first multiple goal scorer on the Dallas Stars in the 2019-20 season, after only scoring three goals in 38 games last season.

Tyler Seguin also found the net in the first period, carrying the puck himself through Dylan Larkin basically assaulting his legs with his stick before finally being taken down post scoring by a sliding Danny DeKeyser. Why Larkin doesn’t get called and John Klingberg does a few minutes later for interference is a thing that baffles and bewilders, but such is the nature of NHL reffing.

The Stars looked a little scrambly in the early part of the period, but the penalty kill for Radulov’s hook helped to focus the team a bit, allowing for Hintz and Seguin’s goals.

Second period

Don’t let anyone tell you the second period was anything but pretty shameful for the Stars. The main issue here was special teams, and the Dallas Stars special teams were anything but special.

With the majority leftover penalty for Klingberg, Anthony Manta scored early in the second, cutting the Stars lead in half.

The Stars finally got the opportunity on the power play when erstwhile Star Patrik Nemeth went off for interference against new Star Joe Pavelski. The Red Wings killed the penalty, but the Stars had some close chances. Unfortunately, close chances don't count on the scoreboard.

Andrew Cogliano went off for tripping, but the Stars killed the ensuing power play, before letting Mantha score his second of the period at 5-on-5. It was at the end of a long shift for Esa Lindell and Gurianov, but while the first was completely walked at the blue line, the latter had all the opportunity in the world to clear the puck and didn’t. Further evidence that Gurianov is still a young player with a lot of room for growth.

Jamie Benn went off for hooking and then Alexander Radulov sat for a too many men penalty. The Stars again killed those off. The period ended on a power play to the Stars on a hooking penalty to the Red Wings. This may be the way Stars coach Jim Montgomery wants them to enter a zone, but instead of carrying the puck in, the Stars did a lot of dumping on that power play, which isn’t a great way to either score or maintain possession of the puck, so a truly baffling decision when they have the man advantage.

That’s five penalties plus a holdover from the previous period, a little under 12 minutes of special teams time in a 20 minute period. If the Stars are going to take this many penalties, they should learn to draw them as well.

Third period

The third period was a rebooted version of the second. Mantha completed his hat trick 15 seconds into the period. Not even on a power play, that was just some 5-on-5 magic. Happy home opener, Anthony.

Hintz answered thirty seconds later with a goal of his own off a rebound from Mattias Janmark, who now has a point in all three games.

And then the most frustrating three minutes of hockey ensued. Pavelski got called for tripping. While he was still in the box, the Stars were issued a second bench minor for too many men, because apparently counting is just beyond all of them, and this time it was served by Justin Dowling. Then, while Dowling was still in the box, Andrew Cogliano was called for goaltending interference.

Let’s talk about that last one. Cogliano was on a short handed breakaway toward Bernier. Bernier left his crease to meet Cogliano, who didn’t score on this breakaway, but did run right into Bernier. With Bernier out of the crease, he was eligible for full contact and as he came out to meet Cogliano, who was on a breakaway with literally nowhere else to go, you could safely say that Bernier initiated the contact. Cogliano getting called for that was probably the biggest injustice of the night. However, since the Red Wings weren’t able to convert any of the 5-on-3 time they had, it doesn’t really matter. It’s just something to yell about a lot.

If the Stars had been able to tie or come ahead, Anton Khudobin’s point blank save with 1:35 to go in the game would have been a game saver. Anton Khudobin, even with 4 goals allowed, did what he could to keep the Stars alive.

Unfortunately, the Stars instead chose to allow Mantha to get his fourth of the night with less than a minute to go.

This was the third of three games in four nights for the Stars, so fatigue was high, but they’ve got 14 more back-to-back games this season, and they can’t play like this 14 more times. They’ve got to figure out a way to generate offense when they’re tired. They’ve got to keep out of the penalty box when they’re tired. They’ve got to win even when they’re tired.

The Stars have the day off tomorrow but they’re in DC on Tuesday night to take on the Washington Capitals. Puck drop will be at 6 pm and you can catch the game on FSSW.