After picking up seven of a possible ten points on a five-game homestand, the Dallas Stars stumbled as they opened a three-game road trip in Denver Saturday night. The Stars were outshot 47-24 and outscored 5-2 in a loss to the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center.
“I thought we were embarrassed tonight. What we did with the puck, how many giveaways, how many turnovers. It was pathetic,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “Mentally we weren’t strong enough.”
“Tonight was turnover central,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “We had 13 shots after two periods. It’s not playing the right way and doing the right things. We hung our goalie out to dry. I thought he played a pretty good game. He was sharp in there, and we let him down.”
The Stars, who were playing on the second night of a back-to-back, didn’t do themselves many favors. They allowed 47 shots on goal, matching the most they’ve faced in a game this season. They put the Avalanche on seven power plays, the most the Stars have allowed in a game this season. Colorado took advantage, firing 17 shots on goal during those power plays and scoring twice. When the dust settled, the Stars had allowed five goals. It was the fourth time in the last seven games the Stars have surrendered five or more goals in a game.
“Mentally we weren’t there tonight,” said Benn. “You’ve got to be mentally ready for 82 games. Some nights you are not going to have your legs, but you can be mentally ready for games. We didn’t have that tonight.”
Despite being on their heels a good part of the game, the Stars were tied 2-2 with the Avalanche through 38 minutes. But Colorado scored late in the second to take the lead and then added two power play goals early in the third period to break the game open.
“Back-to-back is not an excuse because everybody has to do it. We just weren’t good enough tonight. That showed by the final score,” said Stars center Jason Spezza. “We managed to stay in the game. Anders [Lindback] made some big saves to keep us in the game. We give up a late one in the (second period), and they take over from there.”
Cody Eakin and Patrick Eaves scored goals for the Stars. Lindback got the start in goal and stopped 42 of 47 shots, but fell to 0-5-0 on the season with a 4.63 goals against average and .861 save percentage. He allowed a goal from a sharp angle to Daniel Briere but kept the Stars in the game with some big saves through two-thirds of the game.
“It was a tough one. The Briere goal was a tough goal. He faced a lot,” Ruff said of Lindback. “He made some good saves, but there are probably a couple in there you want back. For me, he is down the ladder when it comes to assessing people tonight.”
“I want to be a difference maker in these kinds of games,” said Lindback. “There are still some goals I know I can stop, so I just have to analyze it and get better.”
The Stars fell to 9-10-5 on the season. They are now 0-6-3 vs. the Central Division They are 0-4-0 in the second game of back-to-backs this season and have been outscored 22-10.
Alex Tanguay had one goal and two assists for Colorado, which won for the fifth time in the last seven games (5-2-0) and improved to 9-10-5 on the season. The Avalanche won their first game against a Central Division foe (1-3-2).
“Points are crucial right now as early as it is in the season,” said Tanguay. “We are a little ways back, so we have to make sure we get some wins and create some momentum and tonight we did. … It feels good. I mean, we’ve been working extremely hard, we’ve won five out of our last seven, we feel that we are playing better, but it’s nice to get points.”
The Stars and Avalanche both scored twice in the first period. Eakin bounced a backhander in off an Avalanche defender to put the Stars up 1-0 at the 10:24 mark. Briere tied the game for Colorado, beating Lindback with a shot from along the goal line at 13:13. Jarome Iginla gave Colorado a 2-1 lead, scoring from the slot on an odd-man rush at the 16:30 mark. Eaves tied the game 2-2, cashing in on an odd-man rush with 34.9 seconds left in the period.
The Avalanche outshot the Stars 17-5 in the second. Lindback was sharp in goal for the Stars, but Colorado scored late in the frame to take a 3-2 lead. Matt Duchene set up Tanguay, who blasted a puck past Lindback from the left circle with 2:00 left in the period.
Colorado started the third period on the power play and cashed in quickly. Gabriel Landeskog banged in a rebound to make it a 4-2 game at the 46 second mark. The Stars took back-to-back penalties, putting the Avalanche on a lengthy five-on-three power play, and Duchene scored from the right circle to make it a 5-2 game from at 3:45 of the third. And that score held up to the final horn, dropping the Stars back below the .500 mark.
*Colorado outshot Dallas 47-24. The -23 shot differential matched the Stars’ worst of the season (Nov. 16, 6-2 at Chicago).
*Seventeen of Colorado’s shots came on the power play.
*Jordie Benn led the Stars with four shots on goal. Erik Johnson led Colorado with seven shots on goal.
*The Stars were 0-3 on the power play and 5-7 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars won 35 of 67 faceoffs (52 percent).
*Shawn Horcoff won 8 of 13 faceoffs (62 percent). Cody Eakin won 12 of 22 (55 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 9 of 18 (50 percent).
*Alex Goligoski led the Stars with 23:20 of ice time.
*The Stars assigned LW Curtis McKenzie back to the Texas Stars of the AHL Saturday morning.
*Ryan Garbutt served the final game of his two-game suspension for kneeing Edmonton’s Taylor Hall. He will be eligible to return for Tuesday’s game in Toronto.
Jamie Benn – Cody Eakin – Tyler Seguin
Erik Cole – Jason Spezza – Colton Sceviour
Antoine Roussel – Vernon Fiddler – Patrick Eaves
Travis Moen – Shawn Horcoff – Ales Hemsky
Trevor Daley – Jason Demers
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
Jordie Benn – Jyrki Jokipakka
Scratched: Jamie Oleksiak
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.