"We played stupid hockey. Lack of focus. Play like that, you deserve to lose,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “When you have a two-goal lead, you can’t do what we did.”
The Stars seemed to take control of the game late in the second period when Trevor Daley and Jamie Benn scored 56 seconds apart to put the Stars ahead 4-2. But the Flyers came out with a strong push in the third period. They scored twice to tie and then tied it again after Jason Spezza put the Stars up 5-4 with a little more than five minutes remaining in regulation.
“We lost focus of what we need to be versus what everybody hoped we could be, which all of sudden we said let’s try to score six or seven. That’s not the way this league works,” Ruff said. “When you are up by a couple, you defend.”
Overtime lasted 2:49 and the Stars were shorthanded for all but 12 seconds of it. The Stars killed off the first one, and 12 seconds after that kill Daley pulled down Brayden Schenn, who was about to score into an open net with Kari Lehtonen out of position after the puck took a bad bounce out of the corner. The Flyers cashed in on that one. Claude Giroux scored on a shot from the left circle at the 2:49 mark.
“Dales has to take that penalty. It’s an open net,” said Spezza. “We lose that game by not protecting a two-goal lead. We have to get better. If we want to be an elite team in this league, when we get a two-goal lead in the third we need to learn to lock those down.”
Spezza had one goal and three assists for the Stars. Daley scored two goals and Jamie Benn also scored. Tyler Seguin had four assists. Kari Lehtonen stopped 31 of 37 shots.
“It was not a goalie friendly game,” said Lehtonen. “There was a lot of scoring. I should have done a better job to get at least a couple of those. It should be enough for a victory if we score five. We had some trouble in our zone, especially in the third."
Jakub Voracek had one goal and two assists for the Flyers. Andrew MacDonald and Giroux had one goal and one assist each. The Flyers, who came into the game without a victory, improved to 1-2-2.
“A mix of emotions, I think obviously we’re happy to win the game and kind of battle like that at the end,” said Giroux. “To come back from 4-2 and to score another goal to come back, it’s an ugly win but you know what, we’ll take it.”
The Stars took a 1-0 lead 11:32 into the game on a power play goal by Daley. Seguin sent a pass from the goal line through the crease to Daley, who scored from the right circle.
But the Flyers bounced back quickly with two goals less than two minutes apart to take a 2-1 lead. MacDonald charged the blue line to keep the puck in the zone, put a shot on net and Sean Couturier scored on the rebound to tie the game at the 13:16 mark. Just 1:53 later Luke Schenn put a shot on net that got behind Lehtonen and Brayden Schenn put it past Lehtonen to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead at 15:09 of the first.
The Stars drew even early in the second when Shawn Horcoff set up Cole, who scored from close range off the rush 2:46 into the period. The Stars then took the lead late in the second, cashing in on their second power play of the night. Seguin sent a cross-ice pass to Daley, who scored from the right circle with 1:27 left in the period. The Stars struck again 56 later when Seguin set up Jamie Benn, who scored from close range with 31 seconds left in the second period to make it a 4-2 game.
The Flyers took Steve Mason out of the goal to start the third period, replacing him with Ray Emery. And what a third period it was. The Flyers got a power play goal from MacDonald at the 8:32 mark to make it a 4-3 game. The Flyers then took advantage of a fortunate bounce when a Dallas clearing attempt hit an official and stayed in the zone. Moments later Voracek scored to tie the game with 5:46 remaining. The Stars answered 40 seconds later when Spezza poked the puck past Emery during a scramble at the Flyers net. But Philadelphia tied the game with 3:53 remaining when a Michael Raffl shot hit Daley and went into the net to make it a 5-5 game.
“Even the fifth goal, we lost two guys on the forecheck,” said Ruff. “We let them come up all the way on the ice. To me that is just lack of focus. That is garbage hockey.”
And that set the stage for overtime, where the Flyers won it on the Giroux goal.
“We put ourselves in a position to win going into the third, and we didn’t get it done,” said Daley. “It is unacceptable.”
Nemeth expected to miss extended time with arm laceration
The Stars lost defenseman Patrik Nemeth to an arm laceration early in the first period. Nemeth and Flyers forward R.J. Umberger got tangled up in front of the benches when Umberger’s skate came up and clipped Nemeth in the arm.
“We’ll get you an update on Monday, but he is going to be out a good period of time,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff.
With Nemeth out, Ruff said that Jamie Oleksiak is the leading candidate to jump into the lineup. Ruff said the Stars also are expected to recall a defenseman from the Texas Stars of the AHL.
Curtis McKenzie made his NHL debut Saturday night and received a positive review from Stars coach Lindy Ruff.
“I thought he played well,” Ruff said. “He was great on the walls, did a lot of good things. He was a bright spot for me. He did the things he needed to do; he played the game smart; he was great on one great scoring opportunity. I like him - it was a good first game.”
McKenzie played left wing on a line with Vernon Fiddler and Ales Hemsky. He played 11:40, had one shot, four hits, two takeaways and won one of three faceoffs.
“Obviously you want to win in hockey. My role with this team is to help win hockey games,” McKenzie said. “Disappointing end to a fun day but it was a very exciting. It kind of stings now but it’s one I won’t forget.”
*The Flyers outshot the Stars 37-23.
The Flyers directed 83 shots towards the net to 47 for the Stars.
*Jason Spezza and Tyler Seguin led the Stars with four shots each.
*The Stars were 2-3 on the power play and 3-5 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars won 27 of 69 faceoffs (39 percent).
*Vernon Fiddler won 9 of 19 draws (47 percent). Cody Eakin won 6 of 17 (35 percent). Spezza won 5 of 14 (36 percent). Shawn Horcoff won 2 of 9 (22 percent).
*Seguin has eight points (four goals, four assists) on the season, and all of them have come in the last three games.
*Spezza has six points (one goal, five assists) in the last two games.
*Jamie Benn has scored a goal in three straight games.
*Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen is 0-10-3 against the Flyers in his career.
*Saturday’s attendance at American Airlines Center was 18,532, a sellout.
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Jason Spezza
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Ryan Garbutt
Curtis McKenzie – Vernon Fiddler – Ales Hemsky
Patrick Eaves – Shawn Horcoff – Erik Cole
Alex Goligoski – Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn – Brenden Dillon
Kevin Connauton – Patrik Nemeth
Scratched: D Jamie Oleksiak, RW Colton Sceviour
Injured: RW Valeri Nichushkin (groin/hip), D Sergei Gonchar (ankle)
LTIR: Rich Peverley (heart)
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.