Early start, slow start. That was how the first period played out. The Stars showed little life, managing just one shot on goal for the entire first period. The Colorado Avalanche managed seven shots, and struck first after David Jones caught Kari Lehtonen out of position after making a costly mistake playing the puck. They would take the 1-0 lead into the middle frame, where things felt much the same. Dallas increased the shots to eight in the period, but weren’t able to generate any real chances, even with a power play opportunity. The Avalanche had two power plays of their own, but the Stars managed to kill both. The 1-0 Colorado lead persisted into the third period. The Stars finally decided to show up in the third period, putting more shots on net and Vernon Fiddler cashed in 5:26 into the period. The Stars kept up the pressure, out shooting the Avalanche 7-0 before Steve Ott was called for a weak hooking call. As fate would have it, that penalty would lead to an Avalanche goal from Paul Stastny, returning the lead to Colorado, 2-1. The Stars pulled Lehtonen and were then given a power play, giving the Stars a 6-4 man advantage for the final 1:18. Michael Ryder had an open net in the dying seconds, but could not convert. The Avalanche held on, giving them a 2-1 win.
What It Means:
The Stars had a disgustingly slow start, and lifeless hockey is not going to win games. It took full two period before the Stars looked marginally like themselves, and this team cannot afford that. Lehtonen’s 18 saves throughout the first 40 minutes is the only reason the Stars entered that third period down by just one goal. They finally showed the life they were looking for in that third period, managing to tie the game, but it was not enough. The penalty on Steve Ott that led to the eventual game winning goal may have been a weak call, but officiating cannot be blamed for the loss, the Stars lost this one themselves. Other game notes:
- Jamie Benn was held pointless for the second straight game.
- Kari Lehtonen is now 3-4 since his return from injury. He has not won two straight games since November 21st/November 23rd.
- Special teams. Again. Same old song and dance. Something’s going to have to change. 0/3 on the power play, 2/3 on the penalty kill.
The Stars face the seemingly unstoppable St. Louis Blues and former head coach Ken Hitchcock on Monday night. St. Louis’ incredible turn around after the firing of head coach Davis Payne is one of the biggest stories of the season, along with the all-star performance of “back up” goaltender Brian Elliot. The game is also the first night of a back to back that will feature the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night. Richard Bachman will likely get the start in one of the two games, but it remains to be seen which one.
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