The Dallas Stars rolled out one of their best defensive efforts of the season, but it wasn’t enough to add up to two points. The Stars couldn’t hold a 2-0 lead and lost, 3-2, in a shootout to the Colorado Avalanche at American Airlines Center Tuesday night.
“It’s a hard game to lose,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “You ask your team to play a certain way and they played a certain way. The game was right there for us. It’s a tough one.”
The Stars limited Colorado to just eight shots on goal through the first two periods and built a 2-0 lead on goals by Patrick Eaves and Erik Cole. But the Avalanche bounced back in the third, scoring twice including the game-tying tally with 19.7 seconds remaining. The Avs then grabbed the extra point in an eleven-round shootout.
“We had a 2-0 lead so it’s disappointing that we couldn’t keep that score. I think we had one of the best games defensively during the first two periods,” said defenseman John Klingberg. “It’s a tough loss.”
The Stars had a chance to close out the shootout two times and secure the win after goals by Antoine Roussel and Colton Sceviour put them ahead, but Colorado’s Daniel Briere and Gabriel Landeskog scored to force extra rounds.
“Having those two opportunities to stop the last one, I wasn’t able to get those and I was disappointed about that,” said Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen. “I still am.”
Maxime Talbot scored on a wrist shot in round eleven to win the game for the Avalanche.
The shootout loss snapped a two-game winning streak for the Stars, who dropped to five points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Stars (23-19-8) are tied with Minnesota and Los Angeles at 54 points.
Colorado (22-18-11) won its second straight game and moved into ninth place in the Western Conference. They are four points out of a playoff spot and one point ahead of the Stars, Wild and Kings.
“It’s an important win for us, especially the way they played in the first two periods,” said Colorado coach Patrick Roy. “They were really sharp and they didn’t give us much. Every time we had some good looks, they had great stick. They blocked some of our shots, but I thought their game was A-1 tonight. Our guys showed some character.”
The Stars’ red-hot power play cashed in on its first chance of the night to open the scoring in the game. Eaves picked a corner with a one-timer from the right circle at the 6:47 mark of the first period to stake the Stars to a 1-0 lead.
The Stars, who limited the Avalanche to just four shots in the first period, limited them to four again in the second and then scored less than one minute before the second intermission to make it a 2-0 game. Colorado defenseman Nate Guenin turned over the puck to Ales Hemsky in the slot, and Hemsky set up Cole, who scored off a blast with 51.5 seconds remaining in the period.
But the Avalanche scored twice in the third to tie. Ryan O’Reilly scored off a Brad Stuart shot that rebounded off the end boards at the 6:12 mark to make it a 2-1 game. And then with goaltender Semyon Varlamov out of the net for an extra attacker, Tyson Barrie scored from the point with 19.7 seconds left to tie.
“I heard the D shoot it, I went down and then it was in the back of the net,” said Lehtonen.
Colorado dominated the scoreless four-on-four overtime, outshooting the Stars 8-1. And then it went to the shootout, where the Avalanche secured the extra point.
“You can’t play any better and lose,” Ruff said. “We gave up nothing for sixty minutes. I don’t think they had five chances to score the whole game until overtime. They had a couple, but you can’t really play any better than that on the defensive side of the puck.”
Added Eaves, “If we keep playing like that, I think we will be alright.”
*The Stars are 2-2 in shootouts this season and 2-8 in games that have been settled beyond regulation this season.
*The Avalanche have gone beyond regulation a league-high 20 times. They are 9-11 in those games.
*The Stars are 4-9-6 vs. the Central Division.
*The Stars outshot the Avalanche 32-24.
*Cody Eakin led Dallas with five shots on goal.
*The Stars were 1-3 on the power play and are 7-14 on the power play over their past three games.
*The Stars were 2-2 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars won 38 of 65 faceoffs (58 percent).
*Cody Eakin won 12 of 21 (57 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 7 of 11 (64 percent). Jason Spezza won 7 of 11 (64 percent). Jamie Benn won 6 of 10 (60 percent). Tyler Seguin won 6 of 10 (60 percent).
*Alex Goligoski led the Stars with six blocked shots.
*John Klingberg led the Stars with 25:09 of ice time.
*Stars forward Antoine Roussel and Flames forward Jarome Iginla picked up fighting majors in the first period.
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Patrick Eaves
Erik Cole – Jason Spezza – Ales Hemsky
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Ryan Garbutt
Shawn Horcoff – Vernon Fiddler – Colton Sceviour
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
Jyrki Jokipakka – Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn – Jason Demers
Scratched: Travis Moen, David Schlemko
Conditioning assignment: Anders Lindback
Injured: Patrik Nemeth (arm), Valeri Nichushkin (hip)
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.