None of the Dallas Stars were particularly loquacious after losing to the St. Louis Blues tonight. Some saw it as a wake-up call for the team, while others said it is important to focus on all the things the team has been doing well of late and kind of learn from this one to move on.
Captain Jamie Benn gave the Blues credit, but also summed up what most fans thought about the game, too. “They came in here and played a solid team game, just simple,” he said after the game. “Kicked our butts in our own rink, so pretty embarrassing.”
Just how embarrassing was it? Second lowest shots on goal in a game this season levels.
You’d be hard pressed to correctly pick the team that had played a game last night based on the first period. Neither team looked overly fast, and there were stretches of game time where neither team got close to the goalie’s net. Ben Bishop and Jake Allen had some light work for the first five minutes.
The very first flurry of shots on Bishop’s net finally ended the slog the two teams had been in. Bishop made the initial save, but completely whiffed on clearing the puck out of his crease when it bounced off him and landed in front of his body. He then got scrambling, and Jamie Oleksiak, meaning well and trying to cover the wide open cage as Bishop scrambled to get back into position, actually ended up being part of the problem. Though, the rest of the players on the team got caught puck chasing and left Alexander Steen completely open to pot the rebound.
The second goal was another created off a rebound. Robert Thomas shot the puck in on the net while the Stars were puck chasing a bit in their own zone, and David Perron corralled the rebound and put it right past Bishop.
Dallas didn’t have a whole lot going offensively, with the shots on goal at a 6-10 disadvantage by the end of the period. On the plus side, they at least had as many shots on goal as the Detroit Red Wings had managed through the first half of their contest versus the New York Islanders. (Is it an indictment on the period of play that this is a positive — comparing their offense to one of the worst teams in the league? Gonna say yes.)
The Stars continued to look rough to kick off the middle period. Stephen Johns tried to join the offensive zone push, and when the puck got turned over the Blues moved it through the neutral zone quite quickly. Jordan Kyrou had a one-on-one battle with Jamie Oleksiak, pulled a bit of a stutter step to get Oleksiak out of position, and then he snapped one right past Ben Bishop just 2:24 into the period.
They followed up with a fourth goal not two minutes later on a bit of a broken 3-on-2 that had the Stars defense paralyzed. Jaden Schwartz was the beneficiary of that one, and it would end Ben Bishop’s night in net, where he allowed four goals on 13 shots (a very rough and uncharacteristic sub-.750 save percentage for the starting netminder).
Dallas would earn their first three power plays in the period to try to get them back into it. The first two were downright atrocious, with the team seemingly unable to setup anything of significance in the offensive zone. It would be a Stars carry into the zone (usually by John Klingberg or Miro Heiskanen) and then a forced turnover and clear out of the zone by the Blues. The front of net presence was completely absent, with the five-man unit setup around the perimeter, making it easier to clear the puck cleanly.
The only reason the third chance couldn’t be called that way was because it occurred in the last 30 seconds of the period, and they didn’t really have a chance to evaluate it before the horn sounded to end the middle period.
The Stars actually found a way to find some daylight in the high danger areas in front of the net to finish off the power play to open the period. However, they couldn’t solve Allen. It didn’t take long after the penalty expired for Colton Parayako to unleash his cannon and solve Khudobin, though.
Dallas would eventually break the shutout streak of the Blues, thanks to an Oleksiak weird bouncing shot that somehow got through Allen. He now has goals in back-to-back games.
The final score read 5-1 Blues, and the Stars had one of the soundest beatings they have taken this season. In looking at their first 61 games played, this is maybe the sixth bad loss the team has had. Every team has them over the course of 82 games — as Justin Dowling said once, you aren’t going to have ‘it’ every night. The other side features a NHL team capable of beating you any given night.
The Blues just knew how to take the beating to the Stars with gusto tonight. They’ve been here before, they’ve won the Stanley Cup less than 12 months ago. They know what it takes to get there.
It’s what Dallas needs to take a step in learning, too.
*The trio of young girls they had do the National Anthem at the American Airlines Center tonight absolutely nailed their performance.
*The on-ice officials had a moment early in the game where they had to replace a puck and then had a false start on the faceoff. Everyone was looking at each other confused as to what was happening.
*Joe Pavelski, wearing Jason Dickinson’s old number 16, took a puck up near his face early in the game. Things truly are drawn to him in all forms, even ghosts of numbers past.
*The Red Wings were eliminated from playoff contention officially tonight. They have 34 points in 63 games. The Dallas Stars have 35 wins.