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Disaster in the Desert, Stars Fall 4-1 to Golden Knights

No Jamie Benn, no Mats Zuccarello, and no shots on goal in the third.

Dallas Stars v Vegas Golden Knights Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Dallas Stars visited the desert wasteland of Nevada to take on the Vegas Golden Knights tonight. This was their first start without Jamie Benn since he missed a January game against the Washington Capitals.

This is also their first start without trade deadline acquisition Mats Zuccarello, who will be out four weeks after breaking his hand in Saturday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Golden Knights, meanwhile, are debuting their trade deadline acquisition, Mark Stone, who arrived in Vegas this afternoon with a lot of fanfare and cheerleaders at the airport. Stone was a hot commodity at the deadline and there’s a lot of excitement for him in Vegas.

First Period

Early going did not look good for the Stars. Less than four minutes into the game, the Golden Knights had several close calls that Ben Bishop had to perform magic to keep out of the net. The Stars hadn’t even visited Marc-Andre Fleury’s end of the ice.

When the Stars did make it down to the offensive zone, Fleury had to make a wonky stop after the puck bounced off the boards and into his face mask.

Later in the period, Jonathan Marchessault pushed Radek Faksa into Fleury. Faksa ended up sprawled out on Fleury. In an exceedingly logical progression of events, Marchessault then jumped Faksa for laying on top of his goaltender. The joke was on the Golden Knights though, because while Faksa did sit two minutes for interference on Fleury (which still doesn’t feel justified, as he was, and this is on tape, pushed into Fleury), Marchessault sat for roughing. Alex Tuch also sat for Marchessault’s cross-checking minor, which put the Stars on the power play.

On which Roope Hintz then scored his fourth of the season.

It was a mad scramble in front of the net, but Vegas wasn’t able to clear it. Fleury bit hard on the side of the net and Hintz cleaned up the garbage in front. Vegas called for a review for goaltender interference, but the referees called it a good goal, and the call on the ice stood.

Because Ryan Reaves is Ryan Reaves, he leveled Andrew Cogliano in front of the Stars bench.

This wasn’t called for charging for reasons most of Twitter can’t figure out. It will be interesting to see if this is reviewed by NHL Department of Player Safety at all. Either way, Cogliano went down the tunnel favoring his shoulder, which was the primary point of contact with Reaves. At the beginning of the second period it was reported that he would not return for the rest of the game.

Play between the two teams evened out a lot over the course of the period, and both teams ended with 14 shots on goal and pretty evenly matched high danger chances. Plus, the Stars didn’t give up a late goal, which was huge for their momentum starting the second.

Shots: Dallas 14, Vegas 14
Score: Dallas 1, Vegas 0

Second Period

The second period was more of the first, but almost in reverse. It started strong for the Stars, midway the Golden Knights scored a power play goal, and then ended strong for the Stars again.

That’s skipping ahead a bit though. First, Jason Dickinson had a penalty called on him for holding. In a game that has seen Ryan Reaves cross-checking someone into the ice (it was Jason Dickinson) and charging another player, any other calls tend to lose their meaning, but nevertheless, Dickinson sat.

And while Dickinson sat, Max Pacioretty reminded everyone why he was such a good acquisition for Vegas.

There was very little Ben Bishop could have done to stop this. He’d been solid all game prior to this moment, minus a fumble in the very beginning of the game where it looked like he didn’t even realize the game had started. But still, solid game for Bishop, these things just happen.

Ryan Reaves kept happening too. In one of the mid-game packages, commentator Daryl Reaugh likened him to a schoolyard bully, and it’s an apt description.

Somehow, this didn’t end up being called as a penalty. Dickinson exchanged a few words with Reaves, but a referee broke them up and both players skated back to their respective benches.

Shots: Dallas 23, Vegas 27
Score: Dallas 1, Vegas 1

Third Period

The third period got away from the Stars again. A little under six minutes in, Jason Spezza was called for tripping, which put the Stars down one. Twenty-three seconds into that penalty, Blake Comeau was called for high-sticking, which put the Stars down two for almost a full two minutes.

Thankfully, Ben Bishop.

He was slow to get up midway through the kill, after three or four big saves all in a row. Bishop may have just needed a breather though, because after getting checked out by the Stars trainer, he stayed in net and made several more big stops for the Stars.

It wasn’t just the 5-on-3 though when the Stars couldn’t clear it out of their zone to save their lives. Their 5-on-5 play was also lacking through much of the period. This tweet was more than halfway through the final period of the game.

Despite Bishop’s wizardry with the puck, late in the period he lost it behind the net. Tyler Seguin got down low in the net to assist, and instead put his skate in perfect position for Pacioretty to bank the puck into the net for his second of the game.

With four minutes left in the game, the Stars had one shot on goal in the third period. All of the missed calls in the world on Ryan Reaves’ shenanigans won’t change the fact that the Stars couldn’t possess the puck when they needed to. The lone shot on net (with two minutes left in the third) was a dump in from Roman Polak. The last shot on goal in the second was at 16:57.

Literally just as Bishop skated off for the extra attacker, the Golden Knights got the empty net goal for a 3-1 lead by Nate Schmidt. Play resumed, Bishop skated off again, and the Golden Knights scored another empty netter, this time by Brayden McNabb. Here’s a thought, just for free: in a game where the Stars can’t possess the puck long enough to get a shot on goal in 23 minutes, maybe don’t pull the goaltender.

Final Shots: Dallas 24, Vegas 48
Final Score: Dallas 1, Vegas 4

The Stars lost 4-1, but with that abysmal showing in the third period, there was no reason they should have won. The team is back at it when the road trip to the Pacific continues in Los Angeles on Thursday night. Puck drop is at 9:30 p.m. CST.