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Dallas Stunned Late in Loss to Panthers

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The Stars blew a late 2-0 lead to drop the game 3-2 to the Panthers in the final game of the three game series. The loss sends the Stars to Tampa Bay in need of a quick response.

Dallas Stars v Florida Panthers Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

The Dallas Stars faced off with the Florida Panthers for the third consecutive game in Sunrise, Florida on Thursday night. The previous two matchups have been split by both teams, making the game on Thursday night the rubber match for the short series.

With the Stars moving south to Tampa Bay for the weekend, a win to take the best-of-three series would be a huge momentum boost for a club that needs it. However, the Panthers were primed to throw the kitchen sink at the Stars after a loss in which the Panthers were shutout on 43 shots on goal.

There was a slight change in this game as rookie Jake Oettinger started in the crease against Sergei Bobrovsky. The Stars were once again without Roope Hintz, but otherwise rolled with the same lineup from the previous game for the first time all season.

First Period

The Stars would come out and take the first meaningful zone time of the evening when the FCC line worked the cycle around the Florida end. The sequence included a Miro Heiskanen one timer that barely missed the net, robbing the Stars defenseman of his first goal of the season.

As the period progressed towards the 10 minute mark, the Panthers started to assert themselves in the Stars end. The Stars defense would hold, but the stretch forced Oettinger to come up with some big saves early. He was equal to the task.

With under five minutes to go in the period, the first stanza hadn’t produced anything of note. The Stars forecheck was successful in forcing turnovers from the Panthers however, Bobrovsky appeared to be on his game early.

At the end of the first period it was evident that both teams had a bit of fatigue, leading to the first scoreless opening period of the three game set.

Shots on Goal: Dallas 11 - Florida 10

Score: Dallas 0 - Florida 0

Second Period

The first minute of the period would present that Stars with their first attempt to spark some offense into the hockey game. Joe Pavelski drew a tripping minor behind the Dallas net, handing the Stars the first power play opportunity of the evening. After initially struggling to set up in the Florida zone, the Stars finally went to work with under a minute remaining on the job. Dallas was able to work the puck around, finally direct a shot on goal which produced a huge rebound right to Pavelski. Pavelski facing a wide open cage easily deposited the puck behind the Florida net-minder giving the Stars a 1-0 lead early.

Immediately following the Stars goal the Panthers would find themselves back in the penalty box on a delay-of-game penalty. The Stars were buzzing early in their second power play, snapping the pill around the zone and through the Panthers killers. The best chance of the sequence came when Joel Kiviranta threw a puck on net in tight, only for the play to then be whistled down for a hand pass. The Stars would fail to score on a pretty good power play attempt, bringing them to 1-for-2 on the evening.

Around the 10 minute mark of the period the Stars would take their first penalty of the tilt on a Jamie Oleksiak slash on Barkov, while the Panther captain was on a mini breakaway. The Panthers would set up immediately in the Stars end, but would be thwarted when Aaron Ekblad’s stick exploded on him. The Stars would actually out-chance the Panthers for the rest of the kill and easily extinguish the Panthers power-play.

Following the Panthers power-play the game settled into a fairly straight forward affair. Both groups checking, playing sound defense, and limiting all chances to the outside. The Stars would eventually breakthrough again when after an offensive zone face-off win, John Klingberg wired a puck towards the net that deflected off of Jamie Benn’s stick and past Bobrovsky. The goal gave the Stars a 2-0 lead for the second consecutive game.

Shots on Goal: Dallas 26 - Florida 20

Score: Dallas 2 - Florida 0

Third Period

The Panthers came out of the second intermission pushing the Stars in their own end. Florida came very close to cutting the lead in half within the first three minutes when a shot went off the knob of Oettinger’s stick. From that moment on in the early going the Panthers began to stack shifts in the Stars end.

As the period approached the midway point, a bit of oddity hit the game causing a stoppage. Jason Dickinson absorbed a check in the corner behind the Florida net. The hit by Dickinson’s face (and body) caved in the top portion of the board, causing the arena staff to pull panes of glass apart to repair the broken board. Normality was restored after quick work by arena staff.

After the delay, the Panthers went back to work and were buzzing around the Stars zone. Both Aaron Ekblad and Barkov nailed posts on great shots, preserving the Stars advantage. The Stars would eventually clear and push back themselves when Benn narrowly missed his second goal of the night on an in-tight chance that went wide.

After a flurry of chances for the Panthers they finally broke through on a broken play. The Panthers were able to establish zone time in the Stars end, throwing a puck on net that dribbled between the pads of Oettinger. The Stars net-minder didn’t see the puck behind him, allowing Barkov to streak in and tap it over the line.

Almost immediately after the Barkov goal the Panthers came sprinting back into the Stars zone, the defense caught on their hills. Mason Marchment made a power move towards the Stars net producing a big rebound off of Oettinger. The puck came to a wide open Carter Verhaeghe who slapped the puck behind the Stars net-minder to tie the game.

The two goals for the Panthers came 52 seconds apart.

The Stars would never seem to get off their heels, and the Panthers effortlessly snapped the puck around the Stars end. The Panthers work would pay off when Frank Vatrano received a pass and put it over the should of Oettinger to erase the Stars lead and put the Panthers on top.

With a minute left in the game the Stars would pull Oettinger to give themselves the extra attacker, creating a six-on-five situation. Dallas would be unable to generate anything in the final minute and would drop the game 3-2.

Final: Dallas 2 - Florida 3