What Happened: With the season on the line, things still did not go the Dallas Stars way. The Stars went into tonight’s game against the Nashville Predators needing a win just to keep their playoff hopes alive and they just were not able to do it. The Stars played a lackluster first period that ended with both teams exchanging a few chances but nothing getting past the netminders. In the 2nd period the Stars picked their play up somewhat, but still could not find a goal. Through two periods the Stars were able to put up 16 shots despite the Predators constantly blocking shots and passes, but the offense continued to flounder and they were 0-for-2 on the powerplay in the first two periods. In the third, things went from okay to bad very quickly. Francis Bouillon scored on a scramble around the Stars’ net less than five minutes into the third and from there things already seemed over. The Stars did have another powerplay a few minutes later, but again they couldn’t really generate anything. With two minutes to go in the game Patric Hornqvist beat three Stars to a rebound, and put the puck past Kari Lehtonen to end the Dallas Stars’ season. They had one last chance as they pulled Lehtonen and had a powerplay for the final minute, but they again weren’t able to create anything serious and the clock ran out on their playoff dreams.
What It Means: The Dallas Stars are now officially eliminated with the loss to Nashville. While the two-game sweep at the hands of the San Jose Sharks really knocked the Stars out of the picture, tonight’s upsetting defeat officially buried the 2011-2012 season. In the end their powerplay again was a massive reason for their loss. The powerplay went 0-for-4 and again had chances when they really needed it (early in the game, after the Predators scored, etc.), and again the league’s worst powerplay left a lot to be desired. While their will be a lot of speculation in the coming weeks about this season and the coming offseason, it is known that Kari Lehtonen is not the issue. The Stars issues down the stretch were on special teams again and part of the leadership should be questioned since some of the players (Brenden Morrow, Mike Ribeiro, and Stephane Robidas) have been here yearly for these upsetting seasons. The Stars did start the bridge over to the younger guys and next generation, and we do have some bright names that will only get better. But the Stars again stumbled in the final weeks of the season, and with money and ownership in place now, things could really be stirred up.
What’s Next: The Stars will host the St. Louis Blues for the final game of the season on Saturday. While the game should be fun with the Stars hosting one of the best teams in the league, it no longer means anything and will really be an exhibition game at the American Airlines Center. It is Fan Appreciation night with many giveaways and things going on, and hopefully the fans will show up one more time for the Stars this season.