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Stars Can't Cash In on Chances, Fall to Jets

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars dominated play Thursday night and might have rolled out one of their best home games of the season, but Winnipeg goaltender Ondrej Pavelec rendered that irrelevant. The Stars pelted Pavelec with pucks, but the Jets netminder responded with 46 saves in a 2-1 Winnipeg victory.

“It was utter domination, but we didn’t finish,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “We had great opportunities. I don’t think you can play any better and have that many missed opportunities. You have to give Pavelec a lot of credit but, at the same time, our near misses should have been in the back of the net.”

Pavelec made 37 saves over the final two periods, including 22 in the second.

“Anything out of my mouth that doesn’t start or finish with Ondrej Pavelec, I’d be doing him and the game a disservice. He was beyond spectacular,” said Jets coach Paul Maurice. “I can’t remember a game where I saw a goalie have to face that number of A-plus chances and if he did, he never, ever kept them at zero for 59 minutes, so good for him. … He was full value, just an incredible game by a goaltender.”

The Stars outshot the Jets 47-22. The 47 shots on goal were a season-high for the Stars and the most allowed by the Jets this season. The Stars had a 97-37 advantage in shots directed towards the net. They won 47 of 68 faceoffs (69 percent). But despite the statistical and puck possession domination, the Stars couldn’t find the back of the net.

“You have got to give their goalie some credit, he stood on his head,” said Stars defenseman Jason Demers. “We have got to bear down on those chances; we had a lot of point-blank [chances] that we have to put in if we want to win a game. I think we took it to them for 60 minutes. It’s a result that you don’t want, especially when we dominate all the chances we had. It’s something about bearing down and sometimes taking the puck and going to the net with it. It would be the difference, we just needed an ugly one, and we didn’t get that unfortunately.”

The Stars had a season-high seven power play chances in the game – including a four-minute opportunity in the third period – but couldn’t take advantage. And they surrendered a shorthanded goal that allowed the Jets to extend their lead to 2-0.

“It’s frustrating because we had some good looks, but unfortunately when the power play is put out there that could’ve been the difference tonight,” said Stars defenseman Trevor Daley. “But we got scored on, and you can’t let that happen either so the power play wasn’t good enough.”

The Stars (19-17-7) lost for the fifth time in the last six games (1-3-2). They are five points behind Los Angeles, which holds the second wild card spot in the Western Conference. They are now nine points behind the Jets, who hold the first wild card spot.

“We knew this was a very important game that we needed to get,” said Daley. “I thought that might have been our best game at home since the opener against Chicago. It’s unfortunate, but it’s hockey, it’s the way it goes. We have to move forward and forget about it, and if we play like that I think we are going to win most nights.”

Daley scored the lone goal for the Stars. Anders Lindback got the start in goal and stopped 20 of 22 shots.

The Jets ran their points streak to four games (3-0-1) and improved to 23-14-8 on the season.

“Of course it was one of my better games,” said Pavelec. “We needed one of those. It was a big game for us. It didn’t go the way we wanted, but we found a way to win and the penalty kill was huge. We took too many penalties. That can’t happen next time. We go to Chicago tomorrow, so they can kill you. Big two points for us.”

The Jets scored the only goal of the first period. Mathieu Perreault sent a pass from the corner to Michael Frolik, who scored from about ten feet out at the 3:53 mark.

Pavelec had a couple sharp saves in the first, stopping a redirection attempt by Brett Ritchie and then a close-range rebound attempt by Jamie Benn.

The Stars had a 22-6 shots advantage in the second period but couldn’t crack Pavelec. He had big saves on Cody Eakin breaking in on goal, a backhand shot by Alex Goligoski, a point-blank shot by Jamie Benn and Ryan Garbutt shot just wide on a rebound attempt.

The Stars had more chances in the third. They had three power play opportunities, including a four-minute opportunity after Blake Wheeler took a double minor for high sticking Erik Cole. Pavelec came up big again, making a glove save on a point-blank bid by Tyler Seguin. A little more than a minute after that save, the Jets scored a shorthanded goal to extend their lead to 2-0. Following a Dallas turnover in the neutral zone, Evander Kane drove the net, partially fanned on a shot but the puck hit the skate of Stars defenseman Trevor Daley and slipped by Lindback at the 7:34 mark.

“I think [Kane] whiffed on it twice and it went off my foot,” said Daley. “[Lindback] played great tonight. It’s unfortunate we didn’t get the win for him, but he was great tonight.”

Pavelec made another great save with 3:19 left, stopping Daley from about seven feet out. But the Stars finally scored with Lindback out of the net for an extra attacker. Daley scored from the left circle with 1:16 remaining to make it a 2-1 game. But that was all Pavelec was giving up on this night.

“Tip your hat to the guy over there,” Ruff said. “We did a lot of good things with the puck. We looked like a very determined team against a good team. They had been playing really well. You have to just keep building and through that process, you’re going to have some tough losses. If you keep doing the right things, you’re going to win some games.”

Fiddler sits out second straight game

Stars forward Vernon Fiddler missed his second straight game due to a lower body injury. Stars coach Lindy Ruff said Fiddler wanted to play, but it was a coach’s decision sit him out another game.

"It was real close. He wanted to play. That was just my decision,” Ruff said. “I feel that with the type of injury he had, the extra two days will be beneficial for him. That was just a coach's decision at the end. He came in and said he was ready to play, and I knew he was still feeling it a little bit, so I decided just to hold him up."

Stars forward Patrick Eaves, who has been out since early December with a broken bone in his ankle, skated with the team Thursday morning. He could be ready to return after the All-Star break.

Notes

*The 47 shots on goal were a season-high for the Stars.

*The 22 shots in the second period were the most in a period for the Stars this season.

*The seven power play opportunities were a season-high for the Stars.

*The Stars are 1-24 on the power play over the past five games.

*The Stars are 2-9-5 vs. the Central Division.

*Trevor Daley scored his 11th goal of the season. He is tied for second among NHL defensemen in goal scoring.

*The Stars won 47 of 68 faceoffs (69 percent).

*Cody Eakin won 13 of 15 faceoffs (87 percent). Jamie Benn won 8 of 10 (80 percent). Shawn Horcoff won 7 of 9 (78 percent). Tyler Seguin won 9 of 13 (69 percent). Jason Spezza won 9 of 18 (50 percent).

*Alex Goligoski led the Stars with 25:48 of ice time.

Stars lineup

Jamie BennTyler SeguinBrett Ritchie
Erik ColeJason SpezzaAles Hemsky
Antoine RousselCody EakinRyan Garbutt
Travis MoenShawn HorcoffColton Sceviour

Alex GoligoskiJohn Klingberg
Jamie OleksiakTrevor Daley
Jordie BennJason Demers

Anders Lindback
Kari Lehtonen

Scratched: David Schlemko

Injured: Vernon Fiddler (lower body), Patrick Eaves (ankle), 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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