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Turnovers costly as Stars fall to Senators, 7-4

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars are off to the best start in franchise history this season, but they looked more like last year’s Dallas Stars in losing, 7-4, to the Ottawa Senators at American Airlines Center Tuesday night.

The Stars turned over pucks and Ottawa buried them in the Dallas net.

“We played last year's hockey, and got last year's results,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “Played some individual hockey and gave some pucks away, and we got what we deserved.”

The Senators’ first three goals came off Dallas turnovers. Ottawa scored twice on breakaways.

“It's pretty embarrassing,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “We gave them pretty much all their goals. Just bad turnovers.”

The Senators scored four goals on their first ten shots in the game and had six goals on 15 shots at one point. They ended the night with seven goals on 20 shots.

“There were a lot of turnovers. It was really embarrassing,” said Stars defenseman John Klingberg. “They could have scored two or three goals more, but the goalies played up on those turnovers. It’s a little embarrassing.”

The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for the Stars, who lost for just the fifth time in 22 games this season (17-5-0). The seven goals against were a season-high.

“It's a hard one. The key part for me is going to be getting this group refocused and looking past it,” Ruff said. “Sometimes, when you focus on trying to make the fancier part, you get some bad results. We got some bad results tonight. It started with the first goal. Our defense had some big mistakes. John [Klingberg] might have had his toughest night of the year. That pair (Klingberg and Alex Goligoski) might have had the toughest night of the year. We could have had two or three more goals scored against us.”

The Stars used both goaltenders in the game and lost one to injury. Kari Lehtonen, who replaced starter Antti Niemi in the second period, left the game early in the third after colliding with Klingberg in the crease. There was no update on Lehtonen after the game other than he would be evaluated on Wednesday.

The Senators (11-5-5) snapped a seven-game winless streak (0-6-1) against the Stars, defeating Dallas for the first time since December 20, 2008. Jean-Gabriel Pageau tallied two goals and one assist, Mike Hoffman scored two goals and Mark Stone registered one goal and two assists for the Senators, who won their third straight game and ran their points streak to six games (4-0-2).

“We had some good chances, and we buried them,” said Stone. “When you look at their team, they play so fast. They’re very aggressive, so if you can make some cute little plays to get them spread out, you can generate offense. When they play that quick and that aggressive, you can find simple little plays to get your chances, and I think that’s what we did tonight.”

Ottawa took a 1-0 lead at the 7:10 mark of the first period. Bobby Ryan stole a Klingberg pass deep in the Dallas zone and then scored from close range. The Senators extended the lead to 2-0 late in the first when Jyrki Jokipakka turned over the puck along the boards and Pageau set up Milan Michalek, who scored from the left circle at the 18:49 mark.

Stars forward Patrick Sharp cut the lead to 2-1 at the 7:04 mark of the second, scoring on a blast from the right circle off the rush.

But another Dallas turnover allowed the Senators to extend their lead to 3-1. Stone picked off a Patrick Eaves pass in the Dallas zone and scored off a shot from the slot to make it 3-1 at the 12:33 mark of the second period. That ended the night for Niemi, who was replaced by Lehtonen.

“I was just trying to slow things down. Maybe fuel a little spark for us. Most of those goals had nothing to do with our goaltender,” Ruff said. “It was like having a shootout in our building. Let’s just have breakaway after breakaway in alone. The goals had nothing to do with our goaltending, and that change had nothing to do with our goaltender playing poorly. It was just to try to switch the direction and get a little bit of a spark and a little bit of desperation out of the team.”

Lehtonen took over and surrendered a goal on the first shot he faced when Hoffman scored through a screen with the Senators on the power play to make it 4-1 at the 17:41 mark. Lehtonen made two saves after that and then left the game 1:05 into the third period after the collision with Klingberg.

Pageau scored on a shorthanded breakaway against Niemi 4:07 into the third to make it a 5-1 game. The Stars made it interesting when Benn scored on a shorthanded breakaway at 6:07 and Tyler Seguin scored off the rush at 8:04 to make it 5-3. But Pageau scored on another breakaway at 10:31 to put Ottawa up 6-3. Benn scored with 3:12 left to make it 6-4, but Hoffman put the puck into an empty net to finish out the scoring on the night and send the Stars to a 7-4 defeat.

“We need to turn the page as quick as we can,” said Sharp. “There's a lot we can learn from this game. It's an ugly score. We're not happy with the way we played, but we'll watch some video, we'll learn from our mistakes and gear up. It doesn't get any easier from here, games get tighter, teams get tougher to play against. We got off to a good start, but we need to improve every week.”

Lehtonen to be evaluated Wednesday, Demers expected to return Friday

There was no update after the game on Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who left early in the third period after a collision with Stars defenseman John Klingberg. Lehtonen stayed down on the ice briefly after the hit and appeared dazed.

“He’ll be evaluated tomorrow,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said.

Stars defenseman Jason Demers did not play Tuesday due to a lower-body injury, but Ruff said Demers should be ready to play Friday against Vancouver.

“He was pretty close to playing this morning, but it was my decision to keep him out,” Ruff said. “It was between him and Jordie [Benn]. I've got to give Jordie credit because he's coming off a sickness and he was low on energy, but he got through the game OK. I don't think he was himself. Demers I would anticipate playing the next game.”

*The Stars outshot the Senators 37-20 and had a 65-49 advantage in attempted shots.

*Antti Niemi stopped 11 of 16 shots in the game. Kari Lehtonen stopped 2 of 3.

*Jamie Benn, who had two goals and one assist, is tied for the NHL scoring lead with 32 points (16 goals, 16 assists). Benn’s 16 goals lead the NHL.

*The Stars were 0-2 on the power play and 2-3 on the penalty kill.

*The Stars won 32 of 65 faceoffs (49 percent).

*Jason Spezza won 9 of 16 faceoffs (57 percent). Cody Eakin won 8 of 15 (53 percent). Jamie Benn won 5 of 10 (50 percent). Tyler Seguin won 5 of 10 (50 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 4 of 12 (33 percent).

*John Klingberg and Alex Goligoski both were minus-3 in the game.

*Goligoski led the Stars with 24:02 of ice time.

The Stars wrap up their three-game homestand when they take on the Vancouver Canucks Friday night.

Jamie BennTyler SeguinPatrick Sharp

Mattias JanmarkJason SpezzaPatrick Eaves

Antoine RousselCody EakinValeri Nichushkin

Colton SceviourVernon FiddlerAles Hemsky

Alex Goligoski
John Klingberg

Johnny OduyaJordie Benn

Jyrki JokipakkaJamie Oleksiak

Antti Niemi

Kari Lehtonen

Jason Demers (lower body)

Scratched: Travis Moen

Conditioning: Patrik Nemeth

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 reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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