Stars Down in Dallas Tonight, Lose 3-2 in a Heartbreaker to Penguins

Well, it was heartbreaking for us, at least.

The Dallas Stars were at home tonight to host the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second of two meetings between the teams. The first, back in November, was a sad showing for the Stars and ended with a score of 5-1. The lone goal was Roope Hintz’ second career goal.

Hintz has had a few more since then, but you know who hasn’t scored in Dallas in his career? Sidney Crosby. As strange as that may seem, Fox Sports reported it several times, so it must be true. In seven career games in Big D, Crosby has scored in a grand total of none of them.

He’s scored in a lot of other barns, including his own, and the Penguins came into the game tonight with at least one point in 12 of their last 14 games. The Stars? Have not been quite so lucky, but are still hanging on to the first Wild Card spot in the West.

First Period

Despite the score after 20 minutes, the chances were pretty evenly spread for the Stars and the Penguins. The shots were almost even, but more importantly, both teams had the same number of high-danger scoring chances, right in front of the net.

The first big scoring chances in the game came for the Stars from the least likely of candidates — Roman Polak — who had two wrap-around attempts in the same shift. The run started with a big shot from the point that he followed down into the paint, where Matt Murray then robbed him blind. This was partly because Murray had his leg planted and Polak didn’t elevate the puck.

It took a power play for scoring to open though. Alexander Radulov went off for slashing Nick Bjugstad and the inevitable occurred.

The Stars’ penalty kill has been quite good of late, but the Penguins’ power play is better.

After the goal, the Penguins evened up the shot share and pulled a bit ahead. Anton Khudobin kept the game within one goal after stoning Jake Guentzel twice more later in the period.

Shots: Stars 10, Penguins 12
Score: Stars 0, Penguins 1

Second Period

The second period was a weird one, friends. The Stars struggled to keep up with the Penguins, struggled to get shots on goal, and yet somehow ended up outscoring the visitors, which is the only stat that truly counts, right?

Tyler Seguin opened the scoring for the Stars off a beautiful feed from Radulov, who carried the puck through the neutral zone and across the offensive zone. This left Seguin to set himself up nicely on the opposite corner.

Basically, his favorite place to score a goal from.

The Penguins scored again, but it was immediately waved off for goaltender interference. Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan called for a review, but it was a pretty clear cut case of interference, and the call on the ice stood.

Kris Letang was called for tripping Hintz, but the Dallas power play is still missing some actual good pieces on their second unit and they couldn’t convert the man advantage to anything useful on the scoreboard.

Polak, who impressed many a color commentator for the Stars in the first period, turned the puck over behind the Dallas net to Phil Kessel, who wasn’t caught eating hot dogs this time. With the defenseman caught behind the net and the forwards doing . . . what they were doing, Jared McCann was out in front all alone with space to score.

Which he did.

In what is inarguably the biggest goal of the game after 40 minutes of play, Andrew Cogliano scored his second as a Star off a breakaway.

The Stars did try to give the tie up again before the end of the period, but Khudobin, very kindly, was unwilling to assist with that effort. He instead stoned McCann point-blank in the last minute of the period.

This game would not be tied after two without the heroic efforts of the Stars goaltender.

Shots: Stars 16, Penguins 21
Score: Stars 2, Penguins 2

Third Period

The final frame swung so much more in the Stars’ direction than the score indicates, but it started with tragedy. Pittsburgh defenseman Jack Johnson held Jason Dickinson on a zone entry and sat for two minutes, which is when the tragedy struck.

The Stars turned the puck over in the corner behind Murray. The Penguins cleared it to the neutral zone, which is where McCann (yes, the one who has already scored this game) picked the puck up, carried it down the ice on his backhand, and then did a little spin-o-rama in front of the net to carry it forehand and beat Khudobin.

It’s certainly a saucy goal, and has the distinction of being the first shorthanded goal the Stars have given up this season without a goaltender in net.

The Stars had so many opportunities to tie this game up in the closing frame, and this loss wasn’t for lack of trying. They just couldn’t solve Murray, couldn’t elevate the puck over his pads, couldn't find the back of the net. It’s frustrating, especially this late in the season, when they’ve already played themselves into a spot where every point matters.

But you know who still hasn’t scored in Dallas? Sidney Crosby. It’s the little things, right?

Final Shots: Stars 31, Penguins 30
Final Score: Stars 2, Penguins 3

The Stars finished their home stand with a 1-3-1 record and now head out on the road. They’ve got another chance at two points in Winnipeg on Monday night. Puck drop will be at 7 p.m. CST.