Returning Mrazek Shuts Out Stars in 1-0 Loss to Hurricanes

The streak was short but no less beloved.

Fresh off their first win against the Carolina Hurricanes this season, this covid shortened seasons’ schedule has the Dallas Stars back against the Hurricanes tonight in PNC Arena. This win against the Hurricanes marked the Stars first back-to-back win since they opened the season on a four game win streak.

The Stars have had some line-up updates in the last 24 hours: Anton Khudobin is out on covid protocols, so Landon Bow is backing Jake Oettinger up in net. Radek Faksa, despite having a special on his young life in hockey ahead of the game on NBC Sports Network, is out due to an upper body injury. Jason Dickinson, after leaving during Saturday’s first period with an undisclosed injury, is also out tonight, as are Joel Hanley and the usual suspects.

The big news for Carolina is Peter Mrazek’s return in net tonight for the first game since dislocating his thumb on Jan 30 against the Dallas Stars after a collision in net with teammate Max McCormick.

First Period

Both teams were kept scoreless in the first period, though not for lack of effort, at least on the part of the Hurricanes, who had at least one close call from Vincent Trocheck.

The good news for the Stars is, except for that one shot from Trocheck, the rest of the shots from the Hurricanes came from the top of the zone, all long shot snap or wrist shots, which means the Stars defense was effective at interrupting traffic in the high danger areas. Unfortunately for the Stars, that is also true of the Carolina defense. The Stars had fewer shots in the first and all of them came from the top of the zone.

The Hurricanes received the first power play of the game off a tripping call on Oettinger, which was served by Nick Caamano, but kept the Hurricanes to just one shot off the boards from Sebastian Aho.

Things got chippy between the teams in the second half of the first, when Blake Comeau caught Steven Lorentz with his head down against the boards.

This caused a bit of a dust up between the teams, though no actual fights broke out. Comeau was assessed a two minute minor for roughing and Cedric Paquette was given a 2 minute penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Shots: Dallas 5, Carolina 10
Score: Dallas 0, Carolina 0

Second Period

The Stars biggest obstacle this season has been themselves in the second period.

Carolina drew first blood in the game off a terrible line change from the Stars. Comeau gave the puck away instead of getting it deep into the Stars zone, and Trocheck broke away in a two-on-none with Jordan Martinook, who ultimately ended up scoring the goal.

To give a full picture of just how poorly the Stars played in this period, less than six minutes into the second the Hurricanes had twelve shots on net. The Stars had two. At one point, they got trapped on the ice for a shift that lasted almost three minutes before they were finally able to clear the puck enough to change, and Miro Heiskanen ended up staying out there longer, almost three and a half.

And for another visual aid, please refer to this shot map from Micah Blake McCurdy over at Hockey Viz.

Shots: Dallas 16, Carolina 29
Score: Dallas 0, Carolina 1

Third Period

Breaking news in the second intermission: Rick Bowness will not return to the game due to covid protocols and John Stevens will take over head coaching duties. Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada reported on Twitter that Bowness has been fully vaccinated.

Brock McGinn also did not return for the third period but this was due to an upper body injury sustained in the second period.

The Stars expected goals (the xg in the screenshot from Hockey Viz) dropped to 0.2 in the third period, despite having more shots on goal than the Hurricanes. This model looks at the statistical chance of an unblocked shot becoming a goal, a measure of the quality of shots taken.

It’s not a strength the Stars possess in abundance this season.

Yes, the Stars are without a lot of their big name pieces this season, and yes this has been a heavy schedule because of delays from covid and the snow in February. But they’re not playing like a team that wants to make it to the playoffs.

There was no score in the third, although that was more due to heroic efforts from Oettinger than any play by the Stars skaters. No penalties to report. Peter Mrazek gets the shutout in his first game back.

The Stars will be in Chicago on Tuesday night, puck drop will be at 7 pm CST.

Shots: Dallas 28, Carolina, 38
Score: Dallas 0, Carolina 1