Dallas Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen was brilliant in Brooklyn Thursday night, but he didn't get any goal support, and the Stars fell, 3-0, to the New York Islanders at Barclays Center.
Lehtonen stopped 33 of 35 shots, including all 18 he faced while the Stars were shorthanded, in what was probably one of his best performances of the season. Only Islanders captain John Tavares scored on Lehtonen, once in the first period after a pretty move generated a great chance and then late in the third on a shorthanded breakaway.
"Kari was very good," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "He gave us a great chance."
But you can't win if you don't score and the Stars came up empty against the Islanders and goaltender Thomas Greiss, who stopped 23 shots for his second consecutive shutout.
It didn't help that the Stars spent almost 13 minutes - more than one-fifth of the game - killing penalties against the Islanders, who had a 7-3 edge in power plays.
"I didn't think our puck battle and puck desperation was good enough," Ruff said. "When you don't have the puck, you don't draw enough penalties, and we took way too many penalties including a couple careless ones. That took too many of our players out of the game."
The Stars went 1-2-0 on their three-game road trip and fell to 19-20-8 on the season. They have lost three of their past four games overall and are 3-6-1 in their past ten. The Stars are 3-12-4 in games following wins, which is why they have struggled to string together victories and go on a good run.
"It's frustrating," said Stars center Jason Spezza. "We need to pick up points. We're in a dogfight, and there are a lot of teams in that pack with us. We have to win games; we have to learn how to win consecutive games. We've got to find a way to get points."
The Islanders (18-17-8) won their first game under interim head coach Doug Weight, who took over behind the New York bench after Jack Capuano was fired on Tuesday. The Islanders have won two straight games and have shut out the opposition in both.
"Today was a good win. We built off the game on Monday," Tavares said. "It was a good response from the guys after a pretty emotional day-and-a-half and a significant change. We wanted to come out, give a good effort and respond with some good hockey. Good win, everyone contributed in a big way."
The Islanders scored the only goal of the first period when Tavares made a slick move to slip around Stars defenseman John Klingberg and beat Lehtonen from close range at the 13:31 mark.
The Islanders dominated play in the second period, outshooting the Stars 16-5, but Lehtonen kept the Stars in the game with some big saves. He stopped Shane Prince on a breakaway, denied Josh Bailey after a Dallas turnover and turned away a point-blank rebound bid by Tavares with the Islanders on one of their three power plays in the period. The Stars came close to tying the game in the final seconds of the second, but Jamie Benn shot wide after a great setup by Tyler Seguin.
The Stars had two power play chances in the third period, but the first one was cut short when Benn took a double minor for high sticking. The Stars went on their third power play with 5:01 remaining and after the two teams traded chances off the rush, Tavares got a shorthanded breakaway and scored on a wrist shot to make it 2-0 with 3:06 left. Calvin de Haan scored into an empty net with four seconds left to make it a 3-0 final.
Notes: Oduya expected to miss 2-4 weeks
*Stars defenseman Johnny Oduya is expected to miss 2-4 weeks with the lower-body injury that forced him out of Tuesday's game against the New York Rangers.
*The Stars have been shut out 5 times this season.
*The Stars are 3-12-4 following a win.
*The Stars are 3-8-3 vs. the Eastern Conference.
*The Islanders outshot the Stars 36-23 and had a 59-51 advantage in shot attempts.
*Of the Islanders 36 shots on goal, 18 came on the power play.
*Tyler Seguin led the Stars with 5 shots on goal. John Klingberg was tops with 10 shot attempts.
*The Stars were 0-3 on the power play and 7-7 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars won 26 of 53 faceoffs (49 percent). New York's John Tavares won 14 of 21 (67 percent).
*Esa Lindell led the Stars with 22:56 of ice time. Klingberg was next with 22:36.
The Stars head home where they will play their next six straight games, taking on Washington, Minnesota, Buffalo, Toronto, Winnipeg, and Chicago.
Jamie Benn - Cody Eakin - Patrick Eaves
Antoine Roussel - Jason Spezza - Tyler Seguin
Devin Shore - Radek Faksa - Patrick Sharp
Lauri Korpikoski - Adam Cracknell - Jiri Hudler
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Patrik Nemeth
Jordie Benn - Stephen Johns
Scratched: Brett Ritchie, Curtis McKenzie
Injured: Johnny Oduya (lower body), Jamie Oleksiak (hand), Ales Hemsky (hip), Mattias Janmark (knee)
This story was not subject to 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.