The Dallas Stars couldn’t overcome a rough start in Anaheim Wednesday night, but they did make a game of it. After falling behind 4-0, the Stars rallied to pull within one goal but couldn’t get the equalizer and fell 4-3 to the Ducks, who took a 1-0 lead in the first round Western Conference playoff series.
“We had a tough start,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “They came out hot in their building. They are really good in this rink. I thought we battled back pretty good there but it just wasn’t enough.”
“They have one win and we don’t have any,” said Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who stopped 31 of 35 shots. “It was good that we were able to score goals and play well but it still sucks to lose.”
The Ducks built a 3-0 lead in the first period, extended it to 4-0 midway through the game but the Stars rallied starting late in the second. Benn scored on a five-on-three power play and Colton Sceviour scored 1:33 later to cut the lead to 4-2. Tyler Seguin scored with just over six minutes left in the third to make it a one-goal game, but the Stars couldn’t the get that fourth goal.
“The way we finished was how we want to play the full game,” said Seguin. “I thought the first 10-12 minutes we played pretty good and didn’t capitalize on some opportunities. They did. I liked our no-quit attitude out there and performance.”
Kyle Palmieri, Ryan Getzlaf, Mathieu Perreault and Matt Beleskey scored for the Ducks. Anaheim goaltender Frederik Andersen, making his NHL playoff debut, stopped 32 of 35 shots.
“We let up a little bit in the third after our fourth goal, so this is a good lesson for us. Hopefully we can prevent that from happening again,” said Andersen. “Even though you’re up 4-0, you have to play 60 minutes. That’s probably one thing. But I’m happy about the win.”
The Ducks scored 1:53 into the game when Nick Bonino set up Palmieri off the rush and Palmieri broke in alone on net and backhanded the puck past Lehtonen to put the Ducks up 1-0.
“You don’t want your first shot to be a breakaway,” Lehtonen said, “but if you make that save you feel great and go from there. But today I wasn’t able to do that and it was a tougher go from there.”
The Stars came close to tying the game on their second power play, but a Ray Whitney shot hit the post and a good look from Jamie Benn hit traffic.
And less than a minute after the power play expired, the Ducks extended their lead to 2-0. After a Jordie Benn shot hit traffic, the Ducks went off on the rush. A Beleskey shot hit Lehtonen in the mask, Ryan Getzlaf swept in and put the rebound into the net at the 12:49 mark of the first.
The Stars had a third power play late in the period, didn’t cash in and the Ducks went on a power play less than a minute later and scored to make it a 3-0 game. Patrick Maroon set up Perreault, who scored from close range with 29.7 seconds left in the period.
The Ducks cashed in on their third power play of the night midway through the second to make it 4-0. With Ryan Garbutt in the box for unsportsmanlike conduct, a Francois Beauchemin shot from the left point deflected off Beleskey and past Lehtonen.
The Stars went on a 56-second five-on-three power play late in the second and cashed in when Jamie Benn banged home the rebound of an Alex Chiasson shot to make it a 4-1 game with 3:24 left in the period. And then just two seconds after the second power play expired, Colton Sceviour beat Andersen with a shot from the right circle to cut Anaheim’s lead to 4-2 with 1:51 left in the period.
The Stars killed off two Anaheim power plays in the third and then the Stars cut the Ducks’ lead to 4-3 when Seguin tipped a Trevor Daley shot past Andersen with 6:07 remaining in the third period.
Andersen came up big with 2:32 remaining, stopping Cody Eakin’s close range bid. The Stars’ pulled Lehtonen for the extra attacker, but couldn’t get the game-tying goal.
“They are going to be hard-fought games. You have to play a full 60 and maybe even more. We are going to learn from this one,” said Benn.
Game 2 is Friday in Anaheim.
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.