The Dallas Stars’ continue to struggle in Denver. The Stars squandered a 3-1 lead and lost 6-3 to the Colorado Avalanche Saturday night, running their losing streak in Denver to seven games.
“We lost too many battles. We didn’t deserve to win. Our battle was just crap,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “It’s embarrassing. It’s worse than disappointing. Our best players have to be our best players. Can’t play like that. Won’t win.”
The Stars were in control of the game late in the second period, but the Avalanche scored two power-play goals in a 2:58 span to tie the game 3-3 after the Stars were penalized for delay of game and too many men on the ice. Colorado then scored three times in the third to secure the victory.
“PP goals had some swing, but it’s still a 3-3 game with 20 minutes left. That’s not good enough,” Ruff said. “They got to pucks quicker than we did; they won the battles. Their players were their best players and ours weren’t.”
“We had 20 minutes to win a hockey game, and they wanted it more than we did, out battled us and that pretty much summed it up,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn.
Cody Eakin scored two goals for the Stars, and Mattias Janmark also scored. Antti Niemi got the start in goal and stopped 22 of 28 shots for the Stars, who are now 1-1-0 on the season.
The Avalanche, who received two goals and two assists from captain Gabriel Landeskog, improved to 1-1-0 and bounced back after a disappointing opening night loss that saw them blow a 4-1 third-period lead and lose 5-4 to Minnesota.
“We showed a lot of character,” said Colorado coach Patrick Roy. “This was a big night for our guys.”
The Stars jumped out to a 1-0 lead 20 seconds into the game on a goal by Janmark, who took a pass from Jason Demers off the rush and beat Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov with a backhand shot. Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon tied the game at 9:06 of the first, beating Niemi with a close range backhand shot. Eakin put home the rebound of a Tyler Seguin shot 1:15 later, and the Stars had a 2-1 lead. Eakin scored on the power play, tallying from the slot off the rush to make it a 3-1 game at the 8:50 mark of the second period.
But the Stars got into penalty trouble later in the second period, allowing Colorado to draw even. After Niemi took a delay of game penalty for shooting the puck over the glass, Erik Johnson scored on a blast from the point to make it a 3-2 game at the 14:53 mark. Less than a minute after the Stars were called for too many men on the ice, Jarome Iginla scored off a nice feed from Gabriel Landeskog and it was a 3-3 game at 17:51 of the second period.
“[The two power plays] were a key moment in the game,” Roy said.
The Avalanche took control of the game with two goals in a 47-second span almost midway through the third. John Mitchell snapped the tie with a goal from the left circle off a nice setup by Jack Skille at the 8:11 mark and Landeskog scored off a one-timer from the top of the left circle at the 8:58 mark to make it a 5-3 game. Landeskog scored again at the 17:34 mark to round out the scoring and send the Stars home with yet another loss in Denver.
“It’s frustrating to lose in this building again,” said Stars center Jason Spezza. “They played better in the second half of the game than we did. We didn’t deserve to win tonight.”
*The Stars have been outscored 32-16 during their seven-game losing streak at Pepsi Center.
*The Stars outshot the Avalanche 33-28.
*The Stars had a 66-57 advantage in shot attempts.
*Tyler Seguin led the Stars with six shots on goal and 16 shot attempts.
*The Stars were 1-4 on the power play and 2-4 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars won 31 of 62 faceoffs (50 percent).
*Jason Spezza won 11 of 16 draws (69 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 5 of 9 (55 percent). Cody Eakin won 7 of 15 (47 percent). Mattias Janmark won 5 of 15 (33 percent).
*John Klingberg led the Stars with 24:04 of ice time.
The Stars have Sunday off. They’ll practice Monday in Frisco and then take on Edmonton Tuesday at American Airlines Center.
Jamie Benn – Cody Eakin – Tyler Seguin
Valeri Nichushkin – Jason Spezza – Patrick Sharp
Antoine Roussel – Mattias Janmark – Ales Hemsky
Travis Moen – Vernon Fiddler – Patrick Eaves
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
Johnny Oduya – Jason Demers
Jyrki Jokipakka – Jordie Benn
Scratched: Patrik Nemeth, Jamie Oleksiak, Colton Sceviour
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.