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Inept Penalty Kill Sinks Stars, Flames Win 5-1

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Special teams were excrementitious tonight.

NHL: Calgary Flames at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Stars will take back-to-back losses and three overall straight games of not great hockey play into the holiday break.

Tonight’s handiwork was the result of a penalty kill that was bad, something that is usually a strength for the Stars. According to Natural Stat Trick, the game was basically even when played at even strength. It would have been a very winnable game, had special teams not suffered an epic collapse tonight.

It capped off a banner day in DFW sports, too. Earlier in the day, the Dallas Mavericks blew a 30-point lead to lose to the Toronto Raptors and the Dallas Cowboys blew their chance to lock down the NFC East title by losing to the Philadelphia Eagles.

At least the Stars don’t have to worry about boarding a plane that isn’t “viable”. They were the only ones playing at home tonight.

FIRST PERIOD

It wasn’t the best start by the Stars, as they didn’t record their first shot on goal until eight minutes into the period. However, they did limit what Calgary was able to do with the puck, so it felt a little less like getting outplayed than you would think based on that information alone.

Andrew Mangiapane eventually opened the scoring, redirecting a shot from a position in the slot in which he had gotten around all of Dallas’ defenses.

Denis Gurianov responded immediately:

Not really much else to report in the first period other than Mattias Janmark’s injury. He blocked a shot near the end of the period, and immediately went down the tunnel with the help of the training staff. He wasn’t putting much weight on the leg as he left the game, and interim head coach Rick Bowness listed his injury as “day-to-day” after the game.

SECOND PERIOD

Dallas pressed the attack early in the second period, leading to a couple of big flurries in tight on David Rittich. After the first six minutes of the period, the Stars were outshooting the Flames 6-0, a complete flip to the first period script.

Then, the penalty trouble started.

The Stars looked like they stopped skating, leading to some hooking/slashing type obstruction penalty calls. In less than two minutes, the Stars surrendered two power play goals, digging themselves a hole to get out of in the third period. A lot of it was made possible by Calgary’s complete ability to send the puck all over the ice at will, stretching the penalty killers out and pinning them into their own zone. Tired penalty killers, combined with penalties committed by top penalty killing forwards such as Radek Faksa, Andrew Cogliano, and Jamie Benn, and that’s a recipe for disaster.

THIRD PERIOD

The penalty kill didn’t get any better in the third period.

After a dust up between the Stars and Flames (the Stars out of frustration, most likely) the Flames ended up with a power play. Faksa, who had been having it out with Rasmus Andersson behind the refs, got a roughing call, which was offset by Andersson’s roughing in addition to a 10-minute major. Cogliano, meanwhile, took a slashing penalty, giving the Flames an advantage.

A third straight goal on the kill basically sealed this one up.

They did have a successful kill after a failed goal challenge on that power play goal scored by Mikael Backlund. The resulting penalty of that lost challenge, a rarity considering the record of Stars video coach Kelly Forbes, was killed. However, a a late power play for the Stars looking to put anything else up on the boards led to an empty net shorthanded goal making this one completely out of reach.

In a day of DFW sports weirdness, even the way in which the Dallas Stars lost was weird. They now hit a five day break without games, as they return to home ice on Saturday before going to Arizona on Sunday.

There’s now just 10 days until the Winter Classic.