What Happened: The Dallas Stars again under-performed and lost for the fourth game in a row, letting the Colorado Avalanche outplay them for most of the night. The Avs came in having lost three in a row as well and had just come back into Denver after dropping a game to Minnesota on the road last night. The Stars entered the game after looking awful against the Florida Panthers in a 6-0 loss on Tuesday and should have had the fresher legs early in the game. But the Avs outshot the Stars 16-4 in the opening period and dominated the play through the first period. Chuck Kobasew deflected a shot from blue line off of Trevor Daley and the home team took an early lead. While the Stars skated better in the second, the shots against continued to stack up and the offense was still non-existent. While Kari Lehtonen again stood on his head for the better half of the game, Dallas still could not find quality scoring chances and eventually the Avs took a 2-0 when Paul Stastny scored off a rebound on a Colorado powerplay late in the 3rd. They would later add a empty-netter to finish off the scoring. While the score was less severe, the end result very much felt just like Tuesday’s defeat back here in Dallas.
What It Means: The Stars will now immediately come home to start a three game stretch here at the AAC starting tomorrow night against the San Jose Sharks. While their record might still look okay because of the great start, things are starting to appear less than sunny around the Stars. Dallas again gave up powerplay chances tonight without really getting any in return (a sign of an undisciplined team but also at team that is not working in the other end to draw calls) and spent extended spans of the game in their own end. Lehtonen continues to impress, but the reason he is having to play so well is what should concern fans. The offense is not able to create much in the other end and often the Stars escape out of their own end just to dump the puck and change after spending a whole shift trying to help Kari. Dallas also is going to have to adjust defensively. Teams are starting to just shoot everything at the net and try to get down low for rebounds and traffic goals against the Stars, and for the last week it has been working. The team has now been outscored 17-3 in four games. Let that sink in statistically: More then four goals a game while scoring less then one on average. Coach Glen Gulutzan pointed it out tonight in his post-game comments: “I think the discouraging thing is that we are not winning any of our individual battles. We were working hard up ice. I thought we did a lot better job in the neutral zone, some of the things we worked on. But if you’re not going to win your own one-on-one battles then there is really nothing you can do. You have to win battles, get to pucks, hold them and start cycles. It seems that if we get a puck chipped into our end on the forecheck, they keep it in for 30 seconds. We chip one in their end, get on it and we’re in there for five. You can’t have it going that way all the time. I think each guy’s battle level has to come up.” Things were in a way a little better, but the team will have to step their game back up and adjust right away or this could get a lot worse.
What’s Next: The Stars have less then 24 hours to try and address some of these issues as the rival Sharks are already in town. The two teams will drop the puck at 7:00 PM Saturday. Most contests between these two rivals end up being close games with a very high physical level to the game, but recently the winner is often the visitor. The Stars will be hoping to change that trend and could really ease a lot of nervous people with a return to the win column.