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Stars Surrender Tying Goal Late, Fall In Shootout To Hurricanes

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It was a better all-around effort tonight, but the Stars’ defensive woes made a fatal mistake in surrendering the lead late in the period. Also donde esta el power play?

NHL: JAN 31 Stars at Hurricanes

Less than 24 hours after a mess of a loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, the Dallas Stars were back at it for the second game of a back-to-back on the road. This time, they had the support of Stars captain Jamie Benn back in the lineup. Benn had what looked like a knee injury in the first game of the season and hadn’t played since.

Max McCormick took a hit from Blake Comeau in last night’s game and was placed on injured reserve for the Hurricanes. Petr Mrazek remains on the Hurricanes’ active roster after leaving with an apparent injury in yesterday’s game as well, but James Reimer was tapped to man the pipes tonight.

For the Stars, third-pairing defenseman Andrej Sekera was placed on the league’s COVID protocol list. Joel Hanley came in the lineup and Justin Dowling came out to complete the Stars’ roster changes between games.

First Period

The first period of today’s game felt a lot like the fourth period of yesterday’s game, which seems odd considering the Stars must surely have slept since then. They couldn’t connect on passes, took sloppy penalties, and registered a measly three shots on goal to the Hurricanes’ 12.

In the long run, all refereeing regresses to a mean, but the injustice of watching Esa Lindell get called for interference after the referees missed the slashing call on Nick Caamano burned pretty hard.

Especially since, as happened so frequently last night, the power play lead to a goal by the Hurricanes and the Stars once again chasing the puck.

Anton Khudobin was screened during this shot and it’s hard to save against a redirect through traffic.

The Dallas lines were in a blender trying to figure out how to make chemistry and, well, passing the puck worked between the forwards, but the real problem was in systems of play. The Hurricanes like to leave three players at the top of the zone with active passers in the middle, whereas the Stars like to park people in front of the net and leave two guys up top.

It’s not a good systems match for the Stars to defend or attack against, and no line combination is going to change that.

Still, the Stars got their chance on the man-advantage when Nino Niederreiter tripped Miro Heiskanen, though they did not manage a single shot on goal during that opportunity. They then returned the favor in the form of Tanner Kero taking a tripping penalty against Morgan Geekie.

The only reason (and this is an important reason) that the Hurricanes did not score at least two more times in this period is Anton Khudobin. The Stars’ play in front of him in the first was just terrible, but Khudobin was the same old Khudobin.

Shots: Dallas 3, Carolina 12
Score: Dallas 0, Carolina 1

Second Period

Jamie Benn put the Stars down a man early in the second when he ran over Jordan Staal in front of the Carolina bench. Benn rightfully was called for interference for this, as Staal did not have the puck at the time, but he’s lucky he didn’t get called for a more serious penalty. Thankfully, Staal was not injured, though he did take a trip down the tunnel right after, and he returned later for play.

This did prove to be a momentum change for the Stars as they killed the penalty and managed to double their shots on goal over the next few minutes. Heiskanen was called next for holding, but the Stars managed to kill that even with one of their best penalty-killers in the box.

The Stars finally managed to get on the board off a forced turnover in neutral ice. Jamie Oleksiak collected the puck, and then passed off to Benn for the zone entry. Benn shot on the net and Oleksiak followed on the other side to clean up the rebound.

Drew Shore got called for hooking, but the Stars didn’t get a shot on the man advantage on a power play that’s suddenly going the polar opposite of the start it had to the season. There were some questionable calls and non-calls on the ice tonight, on both teams. Miro Heiskanen got tripped after the first power play call that went unclocked by the refs, taking a potential 5-on-3 away from the Stars.

May not have mattered, because the Stars weren’t really clicking on the power play anyway tonight.

Benn flubbed the puck in the neutral zone, and John Klingberg struggled to adjust to a shorthanded drive coming his way unexpectedly. Brock McGinn fired a shot right past Khudobin to give the Hurricanes a 2-1 lead headed into the third period.

Shots: Dallas 9, Carolina 15
Score: Dallas 1, Carolina 2

Third Period

The good play from the second period for the Stars rolled into the third, where the matchup of these two teams really looked like the kind of game you’d expect between these two teams.

About seven minutes into the period, Heiskanen made a poke check in the defensive zone that allowed the Stars to hit the neutral zone with an odd-man rush developing. He drove straight down the middle of the ice while Blake Comeau carried the puck up the side of the wall. As he hit the blue line, he spotted Andrew Cogliano streaking down the other side. With both Carolina defenders converging on Heiskanen, Comeau made the cross-ice pass to a wide open Cogliano, who opened up Reimer and tied the game.

Jamie Benn gave the Stars their first lead in five periods of hockey with a nice wraparound goal, beating Reimer under the padding. The play was made possible by a patient Alexander Radulov, spotting the captain streaking down the other side and hitting him with a crisp cross-ice pass. Cogliano followed that up with a tripping penalty immediately off of the ensuing faceoff, forcing the Stars to kill another penalty and sucking some of the momentum away from the Stars.

After the kill, Brett Pesce took advantage of the Stars’ defense and sent a long-haul pass up to Nino Niederreiter. He hit the offensive zone basically unchallenged, and with Heiskanen trying to fill the lane with his stick, shot a laser right through Khudobin to tie the game late in the period.

Khudobin had a massive pad stop of a late game chance to ensure the game went into overtime.

Shots: Dallas 12, Carolina 10
Score: Dallas 3, Carolina 3

Overtime

In overtime, Heiskanen made a drive to the net with the puck and drew what was arguably one of the weaker penalty calls made tonight (there were a couple to choose from if you’re looking at the refs’ job performance.) Dougie Hamilton got a holding call, Hurricanes fans cried foul that Heiskanen didn’t get a goaltender interference call like they had been called for on a similar play in the game, and the Stars went to work on the power play in overtime.

The overtime was lively, with the Stars registering five shots on goal and the Hurricanes getting three off. But the game was still tied after the five minute extra period, necessitating the team’s first shootout of the season.

Shootout

Hamilton and Vincent Trocheck both scored in the shootout, while Joe Pavelski, Alexander Radulov and Jamie Benn tried to answer for the Stars. Only Radulov was able to solve Reimer, and the Stars take one point out of a possible four on the weekend trip.

Other observations....

  • With Pavelski held off the scoresheet tonight, his five-game point streak was broken. Ditto John Klingberg.
  • Khudobin now has two assists on the season, picking up a secondary on Benn’s first goal of the season.
  • The power play went 0-for-5 tonight, all of a sudden ice cold after starting off scorching hot.
  • Head coach Rick Bowness after the game said that the Stars outchanced the Hurricanes at 5-on-5 play tonight, a much better effort over whatever it was they put on the ice last night.