When it was announced Roberto Luongo would be starting this game, we all breathed a sigh of relief. Luongo over Schneider? We’ll take that any day of the week. But when the puck dropped, it was Cory Schneider in net. Apparently Luongo had aggravated a sore neck, and didn’t feel good enough to be a game player. Great. One of the hottest goaltenders in the NHL, a goaltender who has owned the Stars, was now playing. That made things significantly harder, and so did Kari Lehtonen allowing an incredibly soft goal through the five hole from Chris Higgins just 6:17 into the game, putting the Stars down 1-0 early. To give the boys credit, they out shot the Canucks, but Schneider locked it down, and the Stars couldn’t get the equalizer in the opening frame. Dallas needed a quick goal to try and get back into it, and they finally put one past Schneider 3:16 into the middle frame. Jamie Benn set up Steve Ott for his 11th goal of the year, a crucial goal and momentum-breaker for the Stars. The latter half of the period was not kind to the Stars, and the Canuck’s defense picked up the offensive slack. First, Sami Salo shot a hammer on the power play that found it’s way through to the net at the 11:01 mark. Just over five minutes later, the Stars let another Vancouver defenseman, this time Andrew Alberts, get an open shot, and again it found its way through. Just like that the Stars were down 3-1, and that score would hold into the final period. There were some brief flashes of pesky, but the Stars still could not close the gap, and when Alexandre Burrows scored off a perfect Henrik Sedin feed to give the Canucks a 4-1 lead, the Stars called it a night. Richard Bachman was brought in to play the last half of the period to give Lehtonen some extra rest in preparation for tomorrow’s game. Maxim Lapierre added another one a couple minutes later to put the Canucks up 5-1. The Stars didn’t limp to the finish line at least, and they added a late, albeit meaningless goal at the 17:18 mark from Jake Dowell. That would be it, and the Stars would drop the 5-2 decision.
What It Means:
Usually I save discussion for the next game in the What’s Next section, but because of this loss, we have to discuss it here. This was an ugly loss, there’s no doubt about it, but it wasn’t a “must win” for the team. They have the (mis)fortune of playing two straight division games, and it is in those games where the Stars can take care of business and secure themselves at the least a playoff spot. In case you’ve been living under a rock, the next two games are a home and home series with San Jose. The Sharks, who currently sits in ninth place, will need the wins to stay alive. The Stars will need the wins to stay ahead of the competition, and remain competitive for the Pacific title. In a nightmare scenario, the Stars could drop both and find themselves on the outside looking in. Let’s hope that’s not what happens, but now you can see the enormity of these games. Those games are the “must wins”. Those games will decide the season. Two points tonight would have been a wonderful cushion, but the Stars couldn’t compete with the talent of the Canucks. The Sharks are desperate, the Stars are in trouble of slumping, and it’s all going to come down to a two game series for this Stars team. It’s a scary, exciting, nerve wracking prospect, but these are the games where the Stars show what they’re really made of. I guess we’ll see how it goes. Game notes:
- Jake Dowell scored just his 2nd of the year towards the end of the game. A small bit of vindication for a hard worker night in and night out.
- The LA Kings take first place of the Pacific Division after tonight, and the Stars fall to seventh place in the conference.
The Stars continue the brutal schedule and head to the Shark Tank tomorrow night to face the San Jose Sharks in one of the biggest games of the year for both teams. The Sharks are truly in trouble of missing the playoffs, and a couple losses to the Stars could bury them, and give the Stars a guaranteed playoff spot. It’s an absolutely huge game, and as always, this team just needs points. Puck drop is at 9:30pm.
Topics: Alexandre Burrows, Andrew Alberts, Chris Higgins, Corey Schneider, Henrik Sedin, Jamie Benn, Kari Lehtonen, Loui Eriksson, Michael Ryder, Richard Bachman, Roberto Luongo, Sami Salo, Steve Ott, Vancouver Canucks