The optimist will see a positive in the Dallas’ Stars 5-4 overtime loss to the Minnesota Wild Friday night at American Airlines Center. The Stars did get a point out of the game after being down 3-0 midway through the contest. The pessimist will see another inconsistent effort from the Stars, who squandered a third period lead and failed to win for the tenth time in 14 home games. Stars coach Lindy Ruff saw it both ways.
“I think you look at the big picture, we had five games (on the homestand), we got seven out of 10 points (3-1-1). You’d probably like to get eight. We got seven,” said Ruff. “We battled for a point, which is awesome. The bitterness of it is having the lead with 2 minutes left and giving it up again. And then we got on the wrong side of the puck on the overtime and gave up that opportunity. There’s a lot of good in the game, but we seem to throw something really bitter in there to make it hard for me to stand here and tell you I like most parts of our game.”
Dallas players weren’t taking the big picture view. They saw another up and down effort that ended with the Stars coming up on the wrong side of the final score.
“Story of the season so far. Just inconsistent hockey,” said Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski. “It’s not like we have one or two lines going, and the other two aren’t. Seems like it’s all or nothing. Kind of feel like we’re playing game to game, playing to whatever the other team’s level they’re playing to. Until we start really dedicating to playing a certain way all the time, you’re probably going to see more of those.”
The Stars dug themselves a hole Saturday night, falling behind 2-0 in the first period and then 3-0 by the midway point of the game. The Stars dominated Minnesota in the second and third periods, outshooting the Wild 36-20 and ending the night with a 45-31 advantage in regulation. Ales Hemsky, Tyler Seguin and Erik Cole scored goals in a span of 3:31 to tie the game late in the second period. Goligoski scored with 6:31 left in regulation to put the Stars ahead 4-3, but the Wild tied the game with 1:52 remaining and then Marco Scandella scored at 2:04 of overtime to give the Wild the 5-4 victory.
“More of the same,” said Cole. “It’s not enough at times. Let another two points slide by.”
The loss kept the Stars winless in the Central Division. They are 0-5-3 against their divisional foes, including 0-2-1 vs. Minnesota. They are 9-9-5 overall and 4-5-5 at home.
The Wild improved to 6-0-0 against the Central Division (3-0-0 vs. the Stars) and 13-9-0 overall. It was Minnesota’s sixth win in the past eight games (6-2-0).
“It’s an awesome feeling, especially the rollercoaster style of game that it was tonight. I feel like guys stepped up,” said Scandella. “We just showed resiliency tonight. We could have quit after they tied it up, after they scored the fourth one. We still battled hard and we got the win. It was great to get the win on the road.”
The Wild opened the scoring at the 8:41 mark of the first period. After a giveaway by Stars defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka, Wild forward Thomas Vanek set up Nino Niederreiter, who scored from the slot.
The Wild extended the lead late in the first. After Nate Prosser drove the net and put a shot on net off the rush, Jason Zucker knocked home the rebound to make it a 2-0 game at the 17:29 mark.
The Stars dominated play to start the second period, holding a 12-4 shots advantage through the 11-and-a-half minutes, but the Wild scored on their fifth shot to make it a 3-0 game. Jason Pominville set up Mikael Granlund on the rush and Granlund scored on a wrist shot from about 17 feet at 11:47 of the second.
The Stars then rattled off three goals in a three-and-a-half minute span late in the period to tie the game.
The Stars got on the board at 16:18 of the second when Hemsky scored his first goal of the season. The Dallas forward made a slick move to get around Wild defenseman Ryan Suter and roofed a shot over Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper to make it a 3-1 game.
“It was nice to score a goal finally. It’s been a long time,” said Hemsky. “I’m happy about that, but we lost the game, so it doesn’t matter.”
Two-and-a-half minutes later, the Stars pulled to within one goal. Seguin broke in on net put a shot on goal that Kuemper got a piece of, but the puck bounced off a Minnesota defender and into the net to make it a 3-2 game at the 18:50 mark.
The Stars struck again just under a minute later when Cole scored from the left circle to tie the game 3-3 with 10.2 seconds left in the period.
Both teams had chances in the third and both Kuemper and Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen came up with some big saves. The Stars took the lead with 6:31 remaining. After Niederreiter shot wide while breaking in on net, the Stars headed the other way, and Goligoski scored off a shot from the right circle.
But the Wild drew even with 1:52 remaining when during a battle in the corner the puck came out to Vanek, who scored from the right circle to make it a 4-4 game.
The Wild won it at 2:04 of overtime with a goal off an odd-man rush. Zach Parise backhanded the puck to Scandella, who tapped it into the net from close range to snap the Stars’ winning streak at three games.
“I think at times we’ve shown we can be a good team, be an effective team and be successful. And there are other times where we haven’t shown that,” said Cole. “So we need to find that level of consistency and it needs to be there all the time.”
*The Stars registered a season-high 45 shots on goal.
*Tyler Seguin led the Stars with nine shots. Erik Cole was next with six shots.
*Seguin scored his league-leading 18th goal. Seguin has 11 goals in his last 10 games.
*Ales Hemsky scored his first goal as a Dallas Star.
*Stars defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka picked up his first NHL point, assisting on Hemsky’s goal in the second period. He picked up his second point, assisting on Tyler Seguin’s goal in the second period.
*The Stars were 0-3 on the power play and 1-1 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars won 45 of 75 faceoffs (60 percent).
*Cody Eakin won 14 of 18 faceoffs (78 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 10 of 16 (63 percent). Jason Spezza won 11 of 18 (61 percent). Jamie Benn won 5 of 9 (55 percent).
*Friday’s attendance was 18,532, a sellout.
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Patrick Eaves
Erik Cole – Jason Spezza – Ales Hemsky
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Colton Sceviour
Shawn Horcoff – Vernon Fiddler – Travis Moen
Trevor Daley – Jason Demers
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
Jyrki Jokipakka – Jamie Oleksiak
Scratched: Jordie Benn, Curtis McKenzie
Suspended: Ryan Garbutt
Injured: Valeri Nichushkin (hip), Patrik Nemeth (arm)
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.