Dallas Stars head coach Rick Bowness described his team’s loss to the Carolina Hurricanes very succinctly: “We were half a step behind physically and half a step behind emotionally.” After a big overtime win less than 24 hours before, the Stars came out flat — and the Hurricanes made them pay for all the mental mistakes in their game.
The Stars came out with a proverbial thud tonight to start the game.
The Hurricanes were all over the home team. and it felt like just a matter of time before they’d capitalize on the fact that they had spent so much time in the offensive zone. John Klingberg’s hi-sticking penalty on Jordan Staal setup the first goal. A failed clearing attempt by Esa Lindell kept the Stars’ penalty killers pinned into their own zone. A point shot fell to the slot area off a rebound from Antoin Khudobin. Staal had drifted into that spot, uncovered, and was able to clean it up for the first goal against.
Just over a minute later, they’d make the lead 2-0.
An initial point shot from Brett Pesce was stopped by Khudobin, but he gave up a juicy rebound that landed right on Sebastian Aho’s stick. With Roope Hintz, Denis Gurianov, and Miro Heiskanen all caught puck watching, there wasn’t anyone covering the dangerous Carolina forward, and he made them pay.
The penalty kill once again broke down, this time on the penalty committed at the end of the period that carried over into the second frame. The puck took a weird bounce off of the back of the glass behind Khudobin, who scrambled trying to find it in his crease. Dallas skaters failed to cover the Carolina player in the most dangerous parts of the ice, and Staal once again benefited from it.
Jason Robertson would give the Stars some sign of life, extending his point streak to nine games with a goal 7:45 into the period. Unfortunately, Dallas never capitalized on that and the game never was truly within reach.
Carolina tacked on two more goals in the third period. Max McCormick and Nino Niederreiter each hit the back of the net as the Stars failed to find their defensive structure. The Hurricanes dominated as the entirety of the Stars outside of Hintz and Robertson failed to generate anything of note offensively.
Canes dominated the transitional play tonight. Only chances for Dallas came from Hintz/Robertson. Great work by Aho, Foegele, Slavin & Pesce off the rush. pic.twitter.com/fno6jRnBAq— Corey Sznajder (@ShutdownLine) April 28, 2021
“We have to move on,” Bowness said. “When we’ve stumbled, we’ve rebounded very well, and I’m confident we’re going to rebound.” Dallas will get that chance with a game versus the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday. Meanwhile, the Nashville Predators (that lost 7-4 to the Florida Panthers tonight) will get three days off to lick their wounds as they await the biggest matchup of their season.
Dallas visits Bridgestone Arena on Saturday in what is sure to be a pivotal game in the playoff race.