The Dallas Stars controlled play for a good part of the game Friday night, but the Anaheim Ducks were more opportunistic and taking advantage of opportunities won the night as the Ducks defeated the Stars, 3-2, to take a 2-0 lead in the first round Western Conference playoff series.
“At the end of the night, we handed them their opportunities and their goals,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “We skated well, the effort was great but we made a couple mistakes that cost us. “
The Stars got off to an excellent start in the game, scored first and had a 36-19 shots advantage, but the Ducks capitalized on two Dallas turnovers and took advantage of a broken stick to score shorthanded in the game.
“Part of becoming a good playoff team is to improve from the first game and I saw the improvement,” Ruff said. “We made some individual mistakes that we are going to have to try and eliminate. They made some big mistakes, too. We didn’t capitalize on some of their big mistakes, which was the difference. But I actually like where our team was at, the pressure they were putting on. There was a lot to like. We missed the net on a couple of their big mistakes and you got to give them credit. They didn’t have a lot, but when we handed them, they took advantage of them.”
The Stars had 25 missed shots on goal in the game. The power play did score, but it missed on five other opportunities, ending up 1-6 on the night and surrendered that shorthanded goal.
Alex Chiasson and Ryan Garbutt scored goals for the Stars. Goaltender Kari Lehtonen stopped 16 of 19 shots.
“I think we had chances today to win the game. Definitely the start was a lot better,” said Lehtonen. “Kind of gave them a few good opportunities and they were able to put the pucks in.”
Ryan Getzlaf had one goal, one assist and a plus-three rating for the Ducks. The performance capped an eventful 48 hours for the Ducks captain, who received several stitches after taking a puck to the face in Wednesday’s game and then witnessed the birth of his third child, a daughter, early Friday morning.
“Every once in a while, you need your best players to step it up when the rest of the guys lose their composure,” said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. “Getzy, with what’s happened to him in the last three days, to come in and get two points and a plus-3 rating, is a sure reason why he’s hopefully nominated for the MVP.”
Corey Perry and Andrew Cogliano also scored for Anaheim. Rookie goaltender Frederik Andersen turned in another sparkling performance, stopping 34 of 36 shots.
The Stars came out with a strong start, had the better of chances early, killed off an Anaheim power play and then went on their first power play when Perry slashed Jamie Benn in retaliation for a hit. On the power play, Benn set up Chiasson, who beat Andersen with a shot from the right circle to put the Stars up 1-0 at 7:40 of the first period.
The Stars’ penalty kill came up big later in the period, stopping the Ducks on the power play after Trevor Daley roughed up Perry in front of the Dallas net. But just after the penalty kill, Getzlaf picked off the puck as Erik Cole tried to chip it up along the boards, skated in on net and roofed it over Lehtonen to tie the game 1-1 with 2:46 left in the first period.
“That was huge,” said Perry. “What a great play by him stealing the puck and being a beast going to the net. That’s the type of player he is, and he showed us what he can do.”
The Ducks took the lead late in the second when a Tyler Seguin pass to Benn didn’t connect, Perry jumped on the loose puck, skated into the Dallas zone and blasted it past Lehtonen from the right circle to put Anaheim up 2-1 with 3:45 left in the second.
The Stars went on their fifth power play of the game 3:40 into the third period, but the Ducks scored shorthanded to make it a 3-1 game. After Stars defenseman Sergei Gonchar had his stick hacked and broken behind the Dallas net, Anaheim took advantage and Cogliano roofed a shot over Lehtonen from close range at the 5:09 mark.
“I think the referee missed that penalty, on me, behind the net,” Gonchar said. “In my opinion we should have been 5-on-3. Those mistakes happen on their side, too.”
“We have a tough break, Sergei gets his stick broken and it’s a tough break in the game,” said Ruff. “Is that a mistake, a break or whatever you want to call it?”
The Stars pulled to within one midway through the third when Shawn Horcoff centered the puck from the corner and Garbutt popped it past Andersen to make it a 3-2 game at 9:58 of the third.
The Stars had a great chance with 4:39 remaining, but Andersen stopped a point blank bid by Daley. The Stars had a power play with three minutes remaining, pulled Lehtonen during it for a six-on-four advantage, but couldn’t get the game-tying goal.
The series now shifts to Dallas for the next two games. Game 3 is Monday night in Dallas.
“I think we’re fine in here,” said Garbutt. “That’s hockey. Every game’s important from here on out and if we take care of business at home, we’re going to be fine.”
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.