Another face off against two of the top teams in the NHL’s western conference, yet the results are the same. The Dallas Stars again take a loss at the hands of the Vancouver Canucks, and did not look good in doing so. The two teams met for the third time since December 31st, and every single time the Stars have not been close to the Canucks. Tonight Vancouver dispatched the Stars 4-1 in front of a very sparse crowd at the American Airlines Center and even when the Stars were in the game with the score at 2-1 late in the 2nd, it still just felt like they could not pull through.
The Canucks again put their young back-up netminder Cory Schneider and he again had the Stars number. While the Stars did not have a ton of chances in the game, they still got off 26 shots on net. He made a few great saves and continues to show that he is a top goalie prospect. His positioning is superb everytime that I see him play, and he uses that to set himself up to play well. On the other end, Kari Lehtonen did not play great and the Stars really need him to be to compete with these guys. While a couple of the goals against him came off of turnovers or bad plays by his teammates, he also was only average in net and did not help the Stars tonight. He stopped 22 of 26 shots in net, and like most of the team looked to be in the game early but once the Canucks got going just seemed to taper off.
This game just goes to show that this team still has a lot of work to do. They are the top team in their division and could do some damage in the west, but in three chances to measure up to the top team in their conference and possibly the league, Dallas has been outplayed in all three games. The Vancouver powerplay again torched the Stars PK for a couple of goals in the 2nd, and the Canucks have now outscored the Stars 15-3 in three games. And the Stars PP? Nowhere to be seen. They had three chances in the first, only to not capitalize and they ended up 0-for-5. Not only that, but the Stars gave up a short-handed to the Canucks when they were still in the game and it killed any momentum they had.
It won’t get easier anytime soon either. The Stars now go to the road to play two division leaders in Boston and Philly, and the whole month of February will be a severe test of the team. The month features a lot of teams either in a playoff spot right now or still in serious contention, and the Stars could prove they are a playoff contender or fall into the middle of the pack with this month. Time to buckle down and find a way to get back to winning.