It wasn’t pretty for the Dallas Stars Thursday night, but they were able to pull a point out of it. Despite a sluggish start to the game, the Stars rallied from a 2-0 deficit against the stingy New Jersey Devils before falling, 3-2, in overtime at American Airlines Center.
“We were awful,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “We came out flat. We could have dictated play on the power play in the first. We were awful. We lost one-on-one battles. We got outskated. You don’t win many games playing like that. … The point is good, but you don’t like the way you played.”
The Stars were held to a season-low 16 shots on goal, including just four in the first period, by the Devils, who allow the fewest shots per game in the league.
Still, the Stars salvaged a point, tying the game with 51.5 seconds left when Tyler Seguin scored with goaltender Kari Lehtonen pulled for an extra attacker. But Stars captain Jamie Benn took a tripping penalty 28 seconds into overtime and New Jersey’s Patrik Elias, who drew the penalty, scored off the rebound of a Jaromir Jagr shot 12 seconds later to give the Devils the extra point.
New Jersey was 2-3 on the power play, while the Stars went 0-3 on the power play and missed on a lengthy five-on-three advantage early in the game.
“We had the opportunity to create some momentum and take the lead with our special teams, but our special teams let us down,” said Ruff.
The Stars, who ended their five-game homestand with a 3-1-1 record, moved to within six points of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“We need all the points we can get. There’s not dancing around this one. We have to pick up points,” said Ruff. “The point is good, but we need more than that. I think, as a team, it was unacceptable the way we came out.”
“It was a bit of a rollercoaster for a homestand. We had some good moments and some tough moments,” said Seguin. “It’s about finding consistency as a group right now. The halfway hump is pretty much over and now it’s time for the push. We’ve got to string some together before Olympic break.”
The Devils, who snapped a two-game losing streak, pulled to within one point of third place in the Metropolitan Division and within one point of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
“I thought we played about as good a road game as we could play,” said Devils coach Peter DeBoer. “The game plan held them to 12 or 14 shots or whatever it ended up being. A little unlucky there at the end. We persevered and it was a big two points. Both teams were playing for keeps. We’re both in pretty desperate situations, so there was a lot of contact and lot of battles. I thought we really showed up well.”
The Stars got off to a sluggish start, but had a chance to turn things around when they had a 1:15 five-on-three power play five minutes into the game. But they couldn’t do anything with it, registering no shots on goal during the two-man advantage.
“I’m embarrassed,” Seguin said of the Stars’ performance on the power play. “It’s unacceptable. It’s on me as well. We had an opportunity to get things rolling five-on-three, and we didn’t generate anything. We gave them momentum.”
New Jersey scored midway through the first period to take the early lead. Jagr set up Dainius Zubrus, who scored from the right circle off the rush at the 10:58 mark.
The Devils extended the lead to 2-0 with a power play goal midway through the second period when Travis Zajac deflected a Damian Brunner shot past Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen at the 9:50 mark.
Benn answered a little more than a minute later, scoring off a close range backhand shot at the 10:52 mark to cut New Jersey’s lead to 2-1, setting the stage for the Stars to tie the game late and force overtime, where New Jersey would win it.
“We did a good job to battle back. That’s not an easy team to play against,” said Stars center Cody Eakin. “They like to trap it up when they are up and they don’t give up many opportunities. We battled for that one point, but we need to be searching for two at this time.”
The Stars now hit the road, where they play at Anaheim, Phoenix and San Jose.
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.