Four-on-four overtime hasn’t been kind to the Dallas Stars this season, and the trend continued Thursday night in Nashville. Predators defenseman Shea Weber scored 17 seconds into the extra period to hand the Stars a 3-2 loss and run their record to 0-6 in overtime games.
“It’s a big concern. It’s frustrating,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “The last two (overtime) games we had the puck, we gave it away and the other team scored.”
After John Klingberg lost the puck along the boards in the Dallas end, Colin Wilson backhanded the puck across the ice to Weber, whose shot from the right circle bounced off Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen’s shoulder and into the net.
“Last time (Sunday in Chicago) was blown coverage. This time was a tough decision. Our puck support wasn’t good leaving the zone. And it’s probably a tough goal that goes in,” said Ruff.
The Stars (18-15-7) saw their winless streak hit three games (0-1-2), but there were positives. They overcame two one-goal deficits to get to overtime and picked up one point in the game against the best home team in the NHL.
Jason Spezza and Trevor Daley scored goals. Lehtonen stopped 21 of 24 shots. The Stars power play struggled for a second straight game, going 0-3. It is 0-8 over the past two games.
“We have to be better on the power play. The power play wasn’t good again tonight,” said Spezza. “That’s on us, the top guys have to grab that. We were going the right way for a few games, but we seem to have lost our way the last two.”
Nashville pushed its points streak to seven games (5-0-2), improved to 27-9-4 on the season and currently holds the top spot in both the Western Conference and NHL.
“We have confidence right now,” said Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm. “We battle hard all 60 minutes.”
The Predators struck first, scoring 15:27 into the first period. Mike Ribeiro dropped the puck off to Weber, who beat Lehtonen with a blast from the point off the rush. Just 21 seconds later, Predators goalie Pekka Rinne stopped Stars center Cody Eakin’s point-blank chance following a Nashville turnover.
The Stars two teams combined for three goals in the second. Moments after the Stars misfired on a power play, Spezza tied the game by beating Rinne with a shot from the bottom of the right circle at 12:51 of the second. The Predators took the lead again at the 16:47 mark when Miikka Salomaki got behind the Stars defense and scored on a breakaway, knocking his own rebound past Lehtonen for his first NHL goal in his first NHL game.
“I have no words,” Salomaki said. “It was just an awesome feeling. I think you can imagine it. It has been a dream for me to play in the NHL and to have my first game, and first goal is so fun.”
But the Stars pulled even with just under two seconds left in the period. Eakin centered the puck to Jamie Benn, who directed it to Daley, and the Dallas defenseman knocked it past Rinne from close range to tie the game 2-2 heading into the third period.
Nashville thought it had broken the tie late in regulation, but a Filip Forsberg goal was waved off due to incidental contact preventing Lehtonen from being able to play his position.
“I am tangled with their player, and then I was trying to get back to the net,” said Lehtonen. “I think our guy pushed him into me, but he didn’t have to hold me that long. It was kind of a weird play. I think it turned out the right way, but I am sure they feel different.”
“Everybody’s upset,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said, “but you just move past it and you keep playing the game.”
And this game went to overtime and once again it didn’t end well for the Stars.
“We’re giving up points in overtime, and that’s obviously hurting us in the standings,” Spezza said. “When you are losing six games in overtime it is something you have to look at because there is something we are not doing right.”
*The Stars are 2-12 in four-on-four overtime dating back to last season.
*The Stars are 4-0-2 in their last six road games.
*The Stars are 2-7-5 vs. the Central Division.
*The Predators outshot the Stars 24-20.
*The 20 shots on goal tied for the second lowest total for the Stars this season.
*The Stars were 0-3 on the power play and 2-2 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars won 31 of 63 faceoffs (49 percent).
*Tyler Seguin won 5 of 8 (63 percent). Cody Eakin won 10 of 20 (50 percent). Jason Spezza won 6 of 13 (46 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 6 of 8 (43 percent).
*Trevor Daley led the Stars with 22:40 of ice time.
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Brett Ritchie
Erik Cole – Jason Spezza – Ales Hemsky
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Ryan Garbutt
Shawn Horcoff – Vernon Fiddler – Travis Moen
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
Jamie Oleksiak – Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn – Jason Demers
Scratched: Colton Sceviour, David Schlemko
Injured: Patrick Eaves (ankle), 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.