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Rough first-period stretch dooms Stars in loss to Blues

Dallas falls behind by three goals early and can't climb back in Saturday's 4-2 defeat

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

For the second straight night the Dallas Stars had a significant advantage in shots on goal, but it didn't add up to an edge in goals scored. The Stars outshot the St. Louis Blues by almost a 2-to-1 margin, but fell 4-2 Saturday night at Scottrade Center.

The Stars had a 40-21 shots advantage, including 28-12 over the final two periods, but the Blues scored three goals in a five-minute span of the first period to grab a 3-0 lead, and the Stars could never get close the rest of the game. 

"We absolutely did ourselves in," said Stars coach Ken Hitchcock. "We had a great start to the game. The first 10 or 12 minutes was exactly what we wanted. But when there was sustained pressure in our zone we started to over pursue and made some mistakes."

The Stars have put 86 shots on goal over their first two games, but they have scored just three goals, and two of those have come on the power play.

"We've got some work to do 5-on-5," said Stars center Jason Spezza. "We have to get inside a little more, generate a little more traffic. We're generating chances and generating shots, but we need to get on the inside a little more."

Video: DAL@STL: Janmark jams home a shot from the doorstep

John Klingberg and Mattias Janmark scored for the Stars. Kari Lehtonen got the start in goal and stopped 17 of 21 shots. Lehtonen, who has taken the loss in both Dallas games this season, has allowed six goals on 32 shots in his first two games. Hitchcock was asked about Lehtonen's game.

"You are dealt with by wins and losses, so he has had a tough start," Hitchcock said of Lehtonen.

The Blues, who improved to 2-0-0 on the season, received a 38-save effort from goaltender Jake Allen and one goal and one assist from forward Jaden Schwartz.

"Jake was outstanding," said Blues coach Mike Yeo. "I thought he was really good in game one and he was outstanding tonight. They were throwing pucks from all different angles, and they had a lot of traffic. It reminded me of one of his playoff performances the way he was fighting through that traffic."

The Stars got off to a good start, rattling off six of the first seven shots in the game but couldn't take the early lead. Allen came up with some big saves with the Stars on an early power play, turning away Alexander Radulov, Jamie Benn, and Devin Shore.

The Blues then struck for three goals in five minutes later in the period to take a 3-0 lead. After Paul Stastny's shot from the slot was blocked wide, defenseman Carl Gunnarsson got the puck behind the goal line and banked it off Dallas defenseman Dan Hamhuis at past Lehtonen to put St. Louis up at the 9:50 mark.

Just 84 seconds later, with the Stars pinned in their own end, Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo set up defenseman Joel Edmundson who scored from the left circle to make it 2-0.

Video: DAL@STL: Lehtonen shuts down Schenn's backhander

Jaden Schwartz scored into the open side of the net from close range at the 14:50 mark and the Blues were up 3-0.

The Stars came close to cutting into the lead late in the first with another power play chance, but Allen made a great glove save on a close-range bid from Benn with seven seconds left in the period to keep the Stars off the scoreboard.

The Stars outshot the Blues 16-8 in the second period but couldn't cut into the St. Louis lead. Allen continued to be sharp including a couple of nice saves on Stars center Tyler Seguin.

The Stars finally got on the scoreboard early in the third. Klingberg scored from the point with the Stars on the power play to cut the lead to 3-1 at the 2:48 mark. But just under six minutes later the Blues answered on the power play to extend the lead to 4-1 when Vladimir Tarasenko ripped a shot past Lehtonen from the right circle at the 8:30 mark.

Janmark scored from close range at 13:11 of the third to cut the lead to 4-2 and the Stars had some chances but couldn't get another puck past Allen.

Notes: Hanzal leaves game with lower-body injury

  • Stars forward Martin Hanzal left Saturday's game with a lower-body injury and did not return. Hanzal's last shift in the game came at eight minutes into the second period. Stars coach Ken Hitchcock didn't have much to share after the game. "He'll be evaluated tomorrow. We'll see. Lower-body," Hitchcock said.

  • Goaltender Ben Bishop, who left Friday's game after taking a puck to the mask and needing stitches to close a cut, was cleared for Saturday's game. He served as the backup to Kari Lehtonen.

  • The Stars have outshot their opponents 86-51 over the first two games.

  • Tyler Seguin led the Stars with nine shots on goal Saturday. He has 19 shots on goal through the first two games.

  • John Klingberg and Jamie Benn both had six shots on goal for the Stars.

  • The Stars were 1-4 on the power play. They are 2-8 (25.0 percent) on the season.

  • The Stars were 1-2 on the penalty kill. They are 8-9 (88.9 percent) on the season.

  • The Stars won 31 of 35 faceoffs (47 percent). Tyler Seguin won 9 of 15 (60 percent). Jamie Benn won 6 of 11 (55 percent). Jason Spezza won 5 of 14 (36 percent).

  • Klingberg led the Stars with 27:01 of ice time.

What's Next

The Stars return home to take on the Detroit Red Wings Tuesday at American Airlines Center. The Red Wings (2-0-0) won 2-1 in overtime at Ottawa Saturday.

Stars Lineup

Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Mattias Janmark - Jason Spezza - Brett Ritchie
Devin Shore - Martin Hanzal - Tyler Pitlick
Antoine Roussel - Radek Faksa - Adam Cracknell

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Marc Methot - Jamie Oleksiak
Dan Hamhuis - Stephen Johns

Kari Lehtonen
Ben Bishop

Scratched: Julius Honka, Greg Pateryn, Gemel Smith
Injured: None

This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge

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