“It was a good effort,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “I thought back-to-back, especially at even strength, we did a really good job. You look at the end of the night it is a hard-fought point in a back-to-back game that might have been our best back-to-back so far.”
“As a whole, we did a lot of good things through the course of the game,” said defenseman Alex Goligoski. “I thought our energy was good and we played a pretty good game. We just found a way to lose it.”
And that’s why, despite the good effort against one of the league’s top teams, the loss still stung. The Stars had a 4-3 lead late in regulation, but the Blackhawks scored with just under two minutes left to tie the game and force overtime, where they won it on a Patrick Sharp goal.
“It’s a tough way to lose,” said Stars center Jason Spezza. “I thought we had a good second and third period. They outplayed us in the first. Unfortunate to lose that game … We felt like we should’ve won this game. When you have the lead with a little time left in the third, I think we expect to win. That shows that we’re gaining confidence as a team.”
The loss ended a four-game winning streak for the Stars and was just the second time they’ve failed to win in the past ten games (8-1-1). The point they earned in the game moved the Stars (18-14-6) to within three points of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“Tonight there was a lot of good,” Goligoski said. “It doesn’t make it feel any better. It sucks right now. I think there is still momentum that we have gained, and we can keep going with it.
The Stars, who came into Sunday with a 0-4-0 in the second game of back-to-backs this season, didn’t look like a team that had played the night before for a good part of the game. They outshot the Blackhawks 33-29 at even-strength and outscored Chicago during five-on-five play, 4-3, getting two goals from Erik Cole and one each from Jamie Benn and Jordie Benn.
“I thought the last 40 (minutes) our pace was better than theirs,” said Ruff. “I thought we went through the neutral zone a lot better. We skated them, created some odd-numbered rushes. We didn’t give them a lot of time.”
“[It was a test]. You factor in the travel and everything,” said Cole. “We did a lot of great things and put up over 30 shots.”
The Stars took four separate one-goal leads in the game, only to have Chicago bounce back to tie each time. The Stars took their final lead of the night when Cole tipped in a Goligoski point shot to make it a 4-3 game at 4:05 of the third period. The Blackhawks tied it when Brad Richards scored from a sharp angle with 1:57 left in regulation.
In overtime, both teams had great chances in the first minute. Stars defenseman John Klingberg blocked a Patrick Kane bid into the open side of the net. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford turned the puck over into the slot and then made a diving save on Cody Eakin.
But Duncan Keith set up the winner, freezing the Stars defense with a fake shot and then setting up Sharp, who put the puck through Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen from close range 1:17 into the extra period. It was the third win in the last four games for the Blackhawks (26-11-2).
“They’re a dangerous team,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said of the Stars. “They’re playing their best hockey. They won 8 out of 9. They’re as dangerous as anybody off the rush, and we tried to stress that today, but they still were effective and generated some scoring opportunities, goals and chances. At the end of the night, we got a break there tying it up and overtime both teams had a couple of adventures.”
The two teams traded goals in the first period. The Stars opened the scoring at the 3:59 mark. After Jamie Benn stole the puck in the neutral zone, Tyler Seguin put a shot on net and Benn scored on the rebound to give Dallas a 1-0 lead. Chicago answered a little more than one minute later when Jonathan Toews stole the puck deep in the Dallas zone and centered it to Brandon Saad, who tapped it into the open side of the net to tie the game at the 5:14 mark.
The teams each scored twice in the second. Cole set up Jordie Benn on an odd-man rush and the Dallas defenseman tallied from the slot 2:15 into the second. The Blackhawks answered less than two minutes later when Patrick Kane scored off an odd-man rush to make it a 2-2 game at the 3:58 mark. Just 45 seconds later Klingberg set up Cole off the rush, and the Dallas forward scored from close range to make it 3-2 at the 4:43 mark. It stayed that way until Bryan Bickell tipped in a Richards point shot with Chicago on the power play with 1:55 left in the period to send the game to the third tied 3-3.
“This game has left us in a bitter mood,” said Cole. “We’ll let it wear on us for another day or so and we’ll carry that anger and that frustration over into the next game.”
That next game will be on Tuesday, when the Stars host the Columbus Blue Jackets.
*Sunday’s loss snapped a four-game road winning streak for the Stars.
*The Stars are 0-1-2 (2 points) vs. Chicago this season.
*The Blackhawks are 3-0-0 (6 points) vs. the Stars this season.
*The Stars are 2-7-4 vs. the Central Division.
*Chicago is 10-4-0 vs. the Central.
*The Stars are 0-4-1 in the second game of back-to-backs this season.
*Chicago outshot the Stars 38-34.
*Tyler Seguin led the Stars with six shots on goal.
*The Stars were 0-0 on the power play and 2-3 on the penalty kill.
*Sunday was the first time this season that the Stars have not had a power play in a game.
*The Stars won 31 of 55 faceoffs (56 percent).
*Tyler Seguin won 8 of 10 draws (80 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 8 of 13 (62 percent). Jason Spezza won 6 of 11 (55 percent). Cody Eakin won 5 of 16 (31 percent).
*John Klingberg led the Stars with 23:11 of ice time.
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Colton Sceviour
Erik Cole – Jason Spezza – Ales Hemsky
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Ryan Garbutt
Travis Moen – Vernon Fiddler – Brett Ritchie
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
Jamie Oleksiak – Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn – Jason Demers
Scratched: Travis Morin, David Schlemko
Injured: Shawn Horcoff (illness), 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.