Early Mistakes Doom Dallas Against Toronto
Dallas started on the back foot, and could never quite fight their way back into the game. Two goals by Joffrel Lupul along with efforts from Phil Kessel, Tyler Bozack and Nazem Kadri did the damage in a tough 5-3 loss.
This was not what coach Lindy Ruff meant when he talked about a system reboot for the Dallas Stars. Instead, the usual blend of defensive miscues, untimely penalties, and an inability to find an offensive Plan B doomed Dallas in a 5-3 mauling at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs Tuesday night. There were flashes of hope, but ultimately, the Stars could not stay out of their own way, and took the loss.
The Leafs started early, just 27 seconds into the contest. Tyler Bozak turned an errant Trevor Daley clearance into a three-on-one opportunity, and then made no mistake with the finish. It was his 12th of the season. Nazem Kadri's sixth doubled Toronto's lead at 15:16. Mike Santorelli beat the Dallas backcheck up the wall, and created a gap large enough for Kadri to rip a wrist shot past Kari Lehtonen. It was a shame, too, because in between the goals against, the Stars seemed to play their way back into the game. Jordie Benn, in particular, will rue a miss with the Stars shorthanded.
The start of the second period wasn't much better. This time, Dallas lasted nearly a full minute before Phil Kessel flipped a power play goal through a screened Lehtonen. A blistering Jason Spezza slapshot stopped the rot at 3-1. Unfortunately, Joffrey Lupul first of the night would restore Toronto's three goal advantage just 9:31 into the second period. Lupul, at least, had to battle his way to a rebound before scoring.
The third period produced more of the same. First, Ryan Garbutt teased a comeback, then Lupul struck again to crush it. Ales Hemsky's second goal in as many games hinted at a frantic finish, but in truth, the Stars never seemed to threaten. Even a lengthy five-on-three power play produced more danger along the blueline than atop the Toronto crease.
So what happened? Seven Toronto power plays were a factor, as was a Stars unit that went 0-5. Urgency was a factor as well. Dallas certainly had active, aggressive stretches of play, but those stretches were separated by long, frustrating periods of inaction. The Stars also seemed to struggle in the half-court, when Toronto denied them counter-attacking opportunities. Finally, despite stopping 35 of the 40 shots he faced, Lehtonen would probably want another crack at Bozak's first goal. The Stars will need to rebound quickly, as they're due in Detroit Thursday night.