The Dallas Stars were the winners of just about every statistical category Saturday night in Minnesota except the most important one – the final score. The Stars were clearly the better team at Xcel Energy Center, but the Minnesota Wild came away with the two points, topping the Stars, 3-2, in overtime.
“We outworked them. We outplayed them,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “We didn’t give them a lot. Special teams were good. A little bit of bad luck.”
The Stars outshot the Wild 35-19. They directed 73 pucks at the net to just 40 for the Wild. But the Wild were a tough net to crack. Goaltender Darcy Kuemper made 33 saves and the players in front of him blocked 22 shots.
“It was a tough loss,” said Stars forward Ryan Garbutt. “Their goalie played well. We got a lot of chances and shots through on him, we just couldn’t bury them.”
The Stars, who lost for the eighth time in the last nine games (1-7-1), fell nine points behind the Wild, who hold the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“It’s tough,” Chiasson said. “They’re almost four point games for us. We’re behind them and this would have been a good start for us to grab two points since we play them again Tuesday at home. We’ve got to stick as a team, battle through and we’ve got to look at the good things we did tonight.”
The Stars had some tough breaks in the game. Minnesota got a good bounce that led to their first goal. Stars defenseman Trevor Daley fell down with the puck in his own end, leading to the second Minnesota goal. Brenden Dillon lost his stick in overtime, leaving the Stars at a disadvantage as Minnesota scored the game-winner.
Minnesota defenseman Nate Prosser scored off the rebound of a Nino Niederreiter shot with 2:18 left in overtime to give Minnesota its seventh victory in the last nine games (7-2-0).
“As a team we’re feeling good right now,” Prosser said. “Even though they were taking the play to us, we all knew on the bench that if we stuck with the game plan we were going to be alright.”
The Stars had a couple of good chances early, but couldn’t cash in to take the early lead. Kuemper made a couple of big saves, including one on Ray Whitney five minutes into the game.
The Wild took the lead at the 7:29 mark of the first when an Erik Cole shot hit Wild forward Erik Haula, who chipped the puck off the glass to create a breakaway and then beat Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen with a snap shot to give the Wild a 1-0 lead on their first shot of the night.
The Stars’ penalty kill came up big late in the first, holding Minnesota to no shots on goal on a 3:37 power play after Shawn Horcoff took a double minor for high sticking.
Lehtonen came up with a big stop on a Justin Fontaine bid from the slot with just under 13 minutes left in the second, and then the Stars stepped up the pressure. They finally broke through when Garbutt banged home the rebound of a Vernon Fiddler shot with 8:03 remaining in the second.
Minnesota got the lead back less than three minutes later when Daley had the puck in the Dallas zone, fell down and the Wild went on the attack. The sequence ended with a Ryan Suter shot deflecting in off traffic with 5:51 remaining in the second to put the Wild up 2-1.
The Stars went on their third power play of the night with 11:11 left in the third period, and tied it when Chiasson scored off the rebound of an Alex Goligoski shot with 10:28 remaining to make it a 2-2 game. It snapped a 19-game goal scoring drought for Chiasson. That got one point for the Stars, but the extra one went to the Wild thanks to Prosser’s overtime tally.
“This is disappointing,” said Chiasson. “It was probably one of our best games defensively as far as scoring chances given in a while. It’s just a little play there. It’s tough. We battled through and it would have been nice to come up with a win here.”
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.