After snapping a six-game losing streak on Tuesday, the Dallas Stars were looking to build on that win and take a step forward Thursday night. They stumbled, losing 4-2 to the Boston Bruins at American Airlines Center.
“We’re trying to improve on certain aspects of the game and trying to get more battle in our game. Sometime you fall a little short,” said Stars center Vernon Fiddler. “We had too many turnovers and we gave up too many odd-man rushes. It’s not going to win you hockey games.”
The Stars played a strong first period, but Boston ramped things up after that and outshot the Stars 35-23 over the final 40 minutes. Still, it was a close game throughout.
“It was a mixed bag for me,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “Pockets of good play. We got some breaks that could have allowed us to win. We made some mistakes that gave them real good opportunities. We lost some wall battles that led to a couple goals.”
The Stars gave up a couple of tough goals, including one with 4.0 seconds left in the second period that gave Boston a 1-0 lead. Then after they tied the game early in the third, they gave up a goal two minutes later that allowed Boston to retake the lead.
Although both teams scored one power play goal in the game, the special teams advantage seemed to go to the Bruins. The Stars were 1-6 on the power play in the game, and missed on a five-on-three chance. They had nine shots on those six power plays but gave up five shots and some quality shorthanded chances to Boston.
“It did some good things and it did some really bad things,” Ruff said of the power play. “We turned a couple pucks over and they ended up going the other way. They got a breakaway and a couple two-on-ones. Those are the type of plays we’ve got to get out of our game.”
The Bruins were 1-4 on the power play and their penalty kill, which has been struggling lately, came up big in this one.
“The power play did a big job of coming up with that third goal and the game winner,” said Bruins forward Brad Marchand, “and the penalty kill did a great job at the right time and they got a goal on a bit of lucky bounce. For the most part we have to be happy with that.”
The loss was the seventh in the last eight games for the Stars, who fell to 21-19-7 on the season. They are now eight points out the final playoff spot. Boston won for the second time in its last five games.
“I thought we played good from start to finish,” Bruins forward Milan Lucic said. “Chad (Johnson) played well in net. Obviously, our PK played extremely well tonight and nice to start off this two-game road trip with a win.”
The Bruins thought they had scored 3:31 into the game to take the early lead, but a video review showed Gregory Campbell kicked the puck into the net and it was ruled a no goal.
The Stars went on their first power play of the night with 6:20 left in the first, and Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who had 37 saves on 40 shots, had to come up big, stopping Marchand on a shorthanded breakaway.
The Stars got a 44-second five-on-three late in the first after the Bruins picked up the extra roughing minor in a scrum and got called for too many men during. The Stars got a good look when Ray Whitney got an open shot from the slot, but Bruins goaltender Chad Johnson turned it away.
The Stars still had power play time to open the second, and Johnson stopped a Tyler Seguin blast from the left circle and Lehtonen turned away a shorthanded bid by Daniel Paille.
The Stars went on another power play with 6:08 left in the second, but couldn’t take advantage.
The Bruins took the lead with 4.0 seconds left in the second when Lucic set up David Krejci, who fired the puck into the net from the slot to put the Bruins up 1-0.
“You don’t want to go into the dressing room giving up a goal with [four] seconds left,” said Fiddler. “Those are things we have to improve on and limit in our game. That’s when we are going to start to win more hockey games.”
The Stars tied the game with a power play goal at the 1:18 mark of the third period. Seguin fired a shot on net from the left boards and it deflected in off Erik Cole, who was getting to his feet after getting knocked down in front of the net.
The Bruins had the lead back two minutes later when the Stars turned the puck over in the corner, Marchand picked up the loose puck, drove the net and put the puck past Lehtonen to give Boston a 2-1 lead at the 3:18 mark.
The Stars went on a power play with 7:33 remaining in the third, and couldn’t take advantage. The Bruins then went on a power play just seconds later, and cashed in to take a 3-1 lead when Lucic tipped in a Krejci shot with 4:14 left. The play was reviewed to see if Lucic knocked it in with a high stick, but the goal stood.
“I knew it was going to be really close and thankfully they called it on the ice,” Lucic said. “I imagine the conversation was it was inconclusive on the video, so take ‘em any way you can. I was able to get a good tip there and ends up being a big goal.”
The Stars made it interesting, cutting the Boston lead to 3-2 with 1:11 left when Jamie Benn scored off a scramble in front of the Bruins net. But Patrice Bergeron scored into an empty net with 16 seconds left to seal the win for the Bruins.
The Stars now hit the road for games at Minnesota (Saturday) and Nashville (Monday).
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.