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Burnside: Five takeaways from Stars' 3-2 loss to Sens

Dallas escapes with a point to wrap up its homestand before jetting to Nashville

by Scott Burnside @OvertimeScottB / DallasStars.com

The Dallas Stars finished up their five-game homestand with a third straight overtime game, this one a disappointing 3-2 loss to the lowly Ottawa Senators that left them with a 2-1-2 mark through this stretch of home play.

Here are some mutterings on a night that leaves myriad questions about the Stars both physically and mentally.

 

Video: OTT@DAL: Bishop leaves game with injury

 

1. Loss of Bishop could be significant

Let's start with the significant news of this game and that was the departure of netminder Ben Bishop after the first period with what appears to be a knee or leg injury.

With 11:05 left in the first period and the Stars up 1-0, thanks to a Tyler Seguin power-play goal, defenseman Dan Hamhuis fell backward onto Bishop, landing on his left leg or knee. Bishop stayed down for a few minutes and then played the rest of the first period before giving way to Kari Lehtonen to start the second.

Bishop will not make the trip to Nashville, where the Stars will play Tuesday night, and head coach Ken Hitchcock said he isn't expected to play Friday against Anaheim. The Stars coach said it would take a couple of days to figure out a timetable for Bishop's return.

Needless to say, this has the potential to be a significant development in the Stars' bid for a playoff spot as Bishop and Lehtonen have combined to provide the Stars stellar netminding in recent weeks, moving the team into the top four in goals allowed per game in the NHL.

Add the Bishop injury to the absence of defenseman Esa Lindell and Radek Faksa on Monday night -- neither of whom will play in Nashville -- along with the longterm injury to Martin Hanzal and the Stars may be seeing their organizational depth tested in a way that is unprecedented this season.

Video: Seguin tallies twice against Senators

 

2. Simply not good enough

Heading into Monday's game -- and against the backdrop of two emotional games against Tampa Bay and St. Louis when the Stars rallied late to force overtime in both, beating the Blues and losing to the Lightning -- the players and Hitchcock talked about the need to stay focused on the Senators, one of the worst teams in the NHL, especially with a key clash against red-hot Nashville looming 24 hours later.

But for the most part, that focus -- or urgency or preparation -- was lacking on this night.

After Seguin's power-play goal -- it bounced into the Ottawa net off defenseman Ben Harpur's skate just 4:36 into the game -- the Stars seemed to assume that the rest of the night would go their way.

It was a poor assumption.

In fact, the Stars, for the third straight game, had to rally the troops with a late goal to send the game to overtime. Seguin wired his 36th of the season with 1:08 left in regulation and Lehtonen on the bench for an extra attacker to help secure an important, if unfulfilling, point.

"We shouldn't be waiting for the last 2-3 minutes to start going. That's a point that should never have not been ours," said Seguin, who was easily the Stars' best forward on this night, logging 23:05 in ice time and winning 12 of 18 faceoffs along with adding two goals.

"I think we played that team like where they are in the standings. I think we forgot that we're still in the NHL and every team's good with the parity in this league. I thought, myself included, we played like we were saving energy for (Tuesday) night, so we better be flying then."

Seguin was also asked about the power play, which finished 1-for-4.

What was perhaps most concerning was the lack of urgency during a third-period power play, where the Stars looked disengaged and seemingly lapsed into old habits of not getting traffic to the front and not moving the puck crisply to try and take advantage of tired penalty killers.

"You can't talk about Xs and Os unless the urgency and effort and compete is there, and tonight, we just we thought we were going to take easy couple of points and just play pond hockey, like Hitch likes to say -- and that's what tonight was," Seguin said.

"I don't know how to explain what we did tonight."

Actually, it turned out Seguin did know how to explain it, and it was the kind of telling comment that comes from a team's leader.

"We all let each down here tonight with how we played," he said.

Sounds about right.

Video: Hitchcock reacts to overtime loss

 

3. What awaits the Stars in Nashville

The single point garnered left the Stars in the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference, one point back of third-place Minnesota and three points up on Los Angeles, the second wild-card team.

But what awaits the Stars in Nashville is a wholly different beast than the Senators, who are playing out the string as a draft-lottery team.

The Predators are the hottest team in the NHL right now, having won eight straight. They're coming off a sweep of a four-game road trip and they are cooking.

Now, a banged-up Dallas team arrives needing to be far better than they were Monday night -- or the potential to be embarrassed is significant.

"Look, I can't waste any time on it. We picked up some more injuries and we've got to move along quick," Hitchcock said. "We got a point, and we tried everything we could to get the focus where it was. But some guys were good, and some guys struggled. If it's a lesson learned for them, great. But right now, it's a point and we've got to move on."

Video: OTT@DAL: Seguin goes top shelf to bury late goal

 

4. Once more into the breach with Lehtonen

Lehtonen stopped 15 of the 18 shots he faced after coming on in relief of Bishop. And it's hard to fault him on the goal that tied the game at 1-1 with 1.4 seconds left in the second period with Ottawa on the power play.

Devin Shore had taken an offensive-zone high-sticking penalty and it looked like the Stars would dodge a bullet. But Tyler Pitlick's stick was broken blocking a shot and the Sens found a way with Mike Hoffman sneaking one past Lehtonen, who actually got a piece of the shot.

Lehtonen admitted he overthought the Senators' second goal, a short-side shot from Matt Duchene early in the third period.

"I was too much trying to look for where is he going to pass, and he kind of tricked me and turned and shot it," Lehtonen said. "It's just one of those plays that you'd like to do differently if you get another chance. I think that was just it, I was a little too deep and put a little bit too many eggs in that basket that he's going to pass it."

It's also hard to fault Lehtonen on the overtime winner by Erik Karlsson, who went in on a breakaway after John Klingberg tried to make a pass instead of shooting after a series of nice moves in the Ottawa zone.

Now, Lehtonen will have to follow the pattern that he's established this season in coming up with big performances when circumstances suggest the Stars are in tough. That's been Lehtonen's calling card, and they will need him to play that card in Nashville -- and, perhaps, beyond.

"Everyone is going to be pumped and excited to play tomorrow. We're disappointed about this right now, but it's something that doesn't need more motivation," Lehtonen said. "They've had us this year. We go there and it's going to be a great challenge, (and say) a lot about us, and it's going to be exciting."

Video: Stars steal a point against Senators

 

5. A nod to Methot

This was a tough game for veteran defender Marc Methot, who grew up in Ottawa and was part of a Senators team that just last spring advanced to double overtime of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final against eventual Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh before being claimed by the Vegas in the expansion draft and then being dealt to Dallas.

This was the first time Methot had played against his former mates, and he admitted he was pleased to put it behind him, even if the outcome left a sour taste in his mouth.

"That was not a good game," Methot said. "I don't know where to start, but I'm sure our coach will have a ton of good quotes for you guys. That was ugly and we're lucky we got a point, in my opinion. I don't think we really deserved it, we'll take that and hopefully put this game behind us and move to a much bigger game tomorrow."

As for his own emotions, he admitted it was taxing.

"It was one of the hardest games I've played," Methot said. "As bad as the hockey was, in my mind, when I was out there, it was difficult -- much different from the time I was traded to Columbus to Ottawa. I formed a lot more bonds on the team we played against tonight, and it's just one of those games you just want to get through."

This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Scott Burnside is a senior digital correspondent for DallasStars.com. You can follow him on Twitter @OvertimeScottB, and listen to his podcast.

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