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Burnside: Five takeaways from Stars' road woes carrying over to Edmonton

With a quick turnaround looming Friday at Calgary, the Stars will have to turn the page swiftly

by Scott Burnside @OvertimeScottB / DallasStars.com

EDMONTON -- The road woes for the Dallas Stars continued Thursday in Edmonton where they could not hold a brief 4-3 third-period lead and dropped a 5-4 decision to the struggling Oilers. The loss was the second in a row on the team's current five-game road trip which continues Friday night in Calgary.

Here are some thoughts and musings on an often perplexing loss.

Video: DAL@EDM: Lindell beats Talbot with wrister for PPG

 

1. Chasing the game

For the second game in a row, the Stars found themselves chasing the game on the road. The Stars trailed 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 before they briefly exerted themselves by taking a 4-3 lead on Esa Lindell's power-play marker -- the third man-advantage goal of the game for the Stars -- midway through the third period.

Whether the emotional exertion of fighting back constantly was too much or not, it was Edmonton that found a way to bounce back when it looked like they could easily have folded after the Lindell goal. Instead, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins got his second of the game when the defensive duo of Greg Pateryn and Dan Hamhuis couldn't clear the puck less than two minutes later, tying the game. Then, Matt Benning got the winner when his shot glanced off Alexander Radulov's skate and past netminder Ben Bishop with 2:27 left in regulation.

"Tough one," said Radulov, who had his best game as a Star with a goal and two assists. "Obviously, it's disappointing. I mean, we battle we show some I think extra urgency. It's sport, you know. Lucky bounces happen. I mean, we just have to regroup. We've got another game tomorrow and we got to get out of it together. That's the bottom line."

Video: DAL@EDM: Benn chips rebound over Talbot's pad for PPG

 

2. No time for self-pity

As Radulov and others noted, the Stars have less than 24 hours to ruminate on what might have been in the City of Champions.

Maybe that's a good thing. Maybe not. But it's clear this is going to be a test of this team's mental toughness -- something that hasn't been in strong supply through the first two games of this road trip.

"When you have a lead late in the third, you've got to find a way to hunker down and get the job done," said captain Jamie Benn, who was once again dominant with two goals. "I think you saw it in their play. They worked hard and they got a couple of bounces. We could take a page out of their book for this next game here. It's tough to score goals and you've got to work for everything you get. Sometimes do a little extra you get a couple of bounces."

Jason Spezza set up the Lindell goal with a great pass -- the first goal scored this season by the second power-play unit -- but acknowledged there's no time to be thinking about this missed opportunity.

"Yeah, once you get the lead, you expect to win that game. We have to learn to win that game. It's a disappointing result and leaves us all upset about the game tonight," he said. "It just shows how hard it is to beat a team in their rink. You have to play 60 minutes. We have to play 60 smart minutes to win on the road. We have a team that's waiting for us, so they're going to be ready to go (Friday). We quickly park this one and move forward, but you have to learn from it."

Video: DAL@EDM: Benn buries feed from Radulov to tie game

 

3. Mental miscues

This was a game that featured a plethora of head-scratching moments, and at the end of the day, were it not for the power play, which accounted for three of the Stars' four goals, this was a mismatch.

For the third game in a row, the Stars gave up a goal in the final 30 seconds of a period. Sure, the Pat Maroon one with 24.1 seconds left in the first was bad luck, as the puck glanced in off Marc Methot's skate, but sill those are killers.

In short, there were plenty of folks who weren't at their best on this night.

On the Oilers' third goal, Jamie Oleksiak, after being scratched in four of the last five games, went for a big hit in the offensive zone at the hash marks, leaving Antoine Roussel to get back in his place. Nugent-Hopkins scored with Bishop unable to get into the net following a scramble.

John Klingberg, arguably the Stars best defender thus far this season, probably had his worst outing of the season, at one point making a no-look drop pass to an open space with Connor McDavid on the ice, setting up a good chance for arguably the game's best player.

Martin Hanzal, who has struggled to get into a groove thus far this season, bowled over an Oiler defender standing next to the Oiler goal with 2:26 left in the second period. Inexcusable, even if the Stars' penalty kill is rocking right now.

And all in all, a very difficult night for Mattias Janmark, who somehow ended up minus-4. Brett Ritchie was minus-3.

"Well, we clawed back, so you like that part of it, but it's really disappointing," said head coach Ken Hitchcock. "It's really disappointing that we're not doing enough of the details that can control the hockey game. Ice the puck after won face-offs. We were almost 70 percent on the faceoff dot and we got away with it in the first period, and in the third period, it cost us the tying goal. We iced it three times before they finally scored. And then, we just don't do enough in the details in critical ice to have a better record.

"We look like we should have a way better record by the way we play, but in the details, we don't get it done. Not right now."

Video: DAL@EDM: Radulov buries PPG off feed from Seguin

 

4. Hello, Mr. Radulov

It has been an up-and-down transition for free-agent signee Radulov, so much so that in Tuesday's game, Hitchcock moved Radulov off of the top line with Benn and Tyler Seguin.

He started Thursday's game with Janmark and Devin Shore, but was reunited with Benn and Seguin after a strong start to the game. The trio were dynamite, with Radulov ripping a one-timer on the power play for his first goal with an actual goalie in net (his lone goal before Thursday was an empty-net effort). He added two primary assists on Benn's two goals.

If we had a suggestion, if would be to use the one-timer more -- something he seems reluctant to have done thus far.

"I'm just trying to work hard, doesn't matter who they going to play me with," Radulov said. "Obviously, they're good players and I just have to pick the right spot, and I know the puck is going to come to me. That's happened in the power play, and I could bury more there but I didn't."

Still, Radulov wasn't in the mood for self-congratulations.

"It worked well, but team lost, so that's the bottom line -- doesn't matter who's scoring and who's getting an assist or anything, it sucks when you lose that," he said.

Video: DAL@EDM: Bishop makes solid pad save to rob Slepyshev

 

5. Bishop probably deserved better

The storyline coming into this game was how Bishop would respond after being yanked in Tuesday's 5-3 loss to Colorado. Well, of the five goals Bishop allowed, one was a breakaway by McDavid, who generally capitalizes on those opportunities, and two went of his own players' skates.

Might have overcommitted a bit on Nugent-Hopkins' first goal, but he made timely saves to allow the Stars to stay close and, ultimately, take the lead.

Probably deserved better than the players in front of him gave him on this night. Bishop stopped 30 of 35 and saw his record go to 5-2-0 on the season.

This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. You can follow Scott on Twitter @OvertimeScottB, and listen to his Burnside Chats podcast here.

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