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Stars Can't Capitalize on Chances in 3-1 Loss to Boston

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

For the second time in less than a week the Dallas Stars had a lot of chances in a game, but not much to show for it on the scoreboard. Despite 37 shots on goal and 83 directed towards the net, the Stars could only get one puck past Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask and fell to the Bruins, 3-1, at American Airlines Center Tuesday night.

“It’s a tough one to swallow,” said Stars center Tyler Seguin. “It’s pretty comparable to that game against Winnipeg (2-1 loss Thursday). We did enough to win the game, so it’s difficult to swallow that one.”

The Stars lost that Winnipeg game despite having a 47-22 shots advantage. The shots weren’t as tilted Tuesday night, but the Stars had their chances in the game. The shots on goal were 37-27. They had an 83-57 advantage in shots directed at net. They hit three posts.

“I think we had some chances, we hit two or three posts and if those go in it’s a different story,” said Stars center Vernon Fiddler. “It wasn’t from a lack of effort, and I think we out shot them and had some good chances, but at the end of the day we didn’t find a way to bury them. If we are going to make a push after the break, we are going to have to find ways to win.”

Sixteen of the Stars’ 37 shots in the game came on the power play, but they ended up going 0-6 with the man advantage.

“We had a lot of chances. We were all over the place, I don’t think I stayed in one spot the whole power play on many of them,” said Seguin. “Again, lots of chances and Tuukka made some great saves. There were also plays where we were just kind of hitting him. Again, it was kind of like that Winnipeg game where we were good enough to win but ended up losing.”

The Stars grabbed the lead on a Vernon Fiddler goal early in the second period, but Boston scored twice late in the second period to take the lead and then extended the lead with a power play goal in the third.

“We got away from our game a little bit, and they hemmed us in a couple of shifts,” said Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski. “That’s how they got momentum. They got a couple [goals] there, and that was the difference.”

The Stars, who are 11-5-2 over their past 18 games, will hit the All-Star break with a record of 21-18-7 (49 points).

“We feel a lot better about where we are right now than a month ago,” said Goligoski. “We had a tough start. We clawed our way back into it. I think the rest is going to be good. We’ve been going at a pretty good clip here these last few weeks. With some of the guys out, that rest will be good for them – re-charge our batteries and make a push in the second half.”

Rask stopped 36 shots, including 16 in the final period, for Boston, which won for the sixth time in the last seven games and improved to 7-1-3 over its last 11 games.

“(Our compete level) was pretty good,” said Boston coach Claude Julien. “They got a lot of shooters on that team and you have to respect that. Tuukka was good. Our penalty kill was really good.”

Stars captain Jamie Benn got a breakaway in the opening seconds of the game but was stopped by Rask. Benn did draw a penalty while driving the net, and that set the tone for the first period. Twelve of the 20 minutes were dedicated to special teams play. Both teams had three power plays but neither could take advantage.

The Stars took the lead 6:46 into the second period when Fiddler beat Rask with a backhand shot off the rush. The goal game in Fiddler’s 700th NHL game.

“You try to just play it like it’s another game, but 700 games for a guy like me I think is a pretty big accomplishment,” Fiddler said. “I’ve had great teammates and great coaches and my family has helped me a lot. I think it’s more of an accomplishment for them more than myself. You just try to play the game hard and you get extra bounces and goals and assists and you take them when you can.”

The Stars had a couple of chances to extend the lead. They couldn’t take advantage of their fourth power play of the night, and then Fiddler rang a shot off the post at the 13:22 mark. Just 55 seconds later the Bruins tied it when Carl Soderberg backhanded the puck to Loui Eriksson, who scored from the slot off the rush to make it a 1-1 game at 14:17 of the second. Stars coach Lindy Ruff saw that sequence as a turning point.

“We had the 1-0 lead, went down the ice and could have made it 2-0 but hit a post,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “They came back, and we had a little bit of missed coverage and it ended up in our net.”

“It was just some great plays by [Dougie] Hamilton and Carl,” Eriksson said. “It was a real nice pass there over the ice, so it was nice to get that one.”

The Bruins put some pressure on late in the period and cashed in when Gregory Campbell scored off the rebound of a Craig Cunningham shot to put Boston up 2-1 with 1:33 left in the period.

The Stars went on their fifth power play 25 seconds into the third period but couldn’t get the equalizer. Seguin came close, hitting the post at the 1:29 mark. The Bruins extended their lead to 3-1 by cashing in on their fourth power play of the night. Hamilton beat a screened Lehtonen with a wrist shot at the 7:41 mark. The Stars got another power play with just over four minutes left, put four more shots on goal but couldn’t get one past Rask.

“If we play this type of hockey we’re going to win more than we lose,” said Ruff. “We’re going in the right direction. When you can put Winnipeg, who’s really been going good, at bay the way we did and really get Boston on their heels for a good period of time, we just didn’t get it done and that’s the part that stings right now.”

Cole injured, could be out a ‘period of time’

Stars forward Erik Cole left Tuesday’s game with an upper body injury. Cole was injured when he went hard into the boards late in the first period.

“He’s got an upper body injury and he’s going to be out for a period of time by the looks of it,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “I can’t give you a time frame, but it looks longer than shorter at this point. I wouldn’t expect him back post-break.”

The Stars are expected to get forwards Patrick Eaves (ankle) and Brett Ritchie (undisclosed) back after the break. Whether defenseman Trevor Daley will be ready to return right after the break is up in the air.

Notes

*The Stars outshot the Bruins 37-27 and had an 83-57 advantage in shots directed towards the net, including shots blocked and those that missed the net.

*Tyler Seguin led the Stars with nine shots on goal and put 17 shots towards the net, including four that were blocked and four that missed the net.

*The Stars were 0-6 on the power play. They are 3-37 (8.1 percent) over the past nine games.

*The Stars were 3-4 on the penalty kill.

*Dallas won 30 of 58 faceoffs (52 percent).

*Tyler Seguin won 7 of 10 (70 percent). Jamie Benn won 8 of 12 (67 percent). Cody Eakin won 6 of 13 (46 percent). Jason Spezza won 3 of 8 (38 percent).

*Stars center Vernon Fiddler played in his 700th NHL game Tuesday night.

*Tyler Seguin led the Stars with 23:04 of ice time.

*The Stars assigned LW Curtis McKenzie to Texas (AHL) Tuesday morning.

Stars lineup

Jamie Benn- Tyler SeguinColton Sceviour
Erik ColeJason SpezzaAles Hemsky
Antoine RousselCody EakinRyan Garbutt
Shawn HorcoffVernon FiddlerTravis Moen

Alex GoligoskiJohn Klingberg
Jordie BennJason Demers
Jyrki JokipakkaJamie Oleksiak

Kari Lehtonen
Anders Lindback

Scratched: David Schlemko

Injured: Patrick Eaves (ankle), Trevor Daley (undisclosed), Brett Ritchie (undisclosed), Valeri Nichushkin (hip), Patrik Nemeth (arm)

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.

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