Not much for Stars to say after Chicago loss

DALLAS — Considering that the Dallas Stars continue
to be a work in progress, everyone who follows the local NHL side knew
there were going to be days like this. And that’s what happened on
Tuesday night, the Stars got mauled by a Chicago team that can not only
roll four lines but who will also not let up on the gas once they get
the lead.

Maybe it was an unfavorable omen when
Michael Kostka, who was playing his first game for the Blackhawks,
scored just over two minutes in on a play that had to be reviewed.

Chicago prevailed 6-2 in a game where to the
surprise of no one, the Hawks got production from up and down their
lineup, so much in fact that it didn’t matter that No. 1 goaltender
Corey Crawford, who is expected to miss the next three weeks with a
lower-body injury suffered early in a win over Florida on Sunday, wasn’t
in net and rookie Antti Raanta, who was making just his fourth NHL
start, wasn’t tested much to speak of.

Raanta’s
counterpart in the other net, Dallas’ Kari Lehtonen, who more often than
not this season has been the Stars’ most consistent and best player,
clearly didn’t have his best stuff and was pulled after allowing a
fourth goal and stopping just 15 of 19 shots.

“We
were hanging our goalie out to dry,” Stars head coach Lindy Ruff said.
“When it hit four, I knew we’ve got a tough road ahead. I felt Danny
(Ellis) could spark us a little and Kari could get some
rest.”

And as expected, Ruff didn’t see a lot to like
about Tuesday’s resounding defeat at the hands of the reigning Stanley
Cup champions.

“That was a good old-fashioned
ass-kicking,” was how Ruff opened his postgame remarks to the media.
“There wasn’t much to like about tonight. They got a little luck early
(with the Kostka goal), but I didn’t like our preparation. We took the
early penalties and that put us in a hole.”

But one
play in particular he took special issue with was the breakaway for
Chicago’s Patrick Kane late in the first period that gave Chicago a 2-0
lead heading into the first intermission.

“When we
let go of coverage and give Kane a breakaway, that’s inexcusable,” Ruff
said.

However, it wasn’t all bad for the Stars as
Ruff did single out Antoine Roussel, who had both of Dallas’ goals as
one of the few bright spots for his club.

Ruff had
moved both Ryan Garbutt and Roussel up from the fourth line to the
second line, a move that paid off as not only Roussel had both goals,
but Garbutt assisted on both tallies by the feisty
Frenchman.

“He’s the one bright spot,” Ruff said of
Roussel. “They (Chicago) hate playing against him and he showed why. He
wasn’t afraid to get into dirty places and he got rewarded for being in
the right place. I admire the way he plays the
game.”

Now, the Stars return to a familiar place, the
road. On Wednesday afternoon, Dallas travels to Nashville in advance of
their first meeting of the year with the Predators on Thursday. Then,
it’s another trip to Winnipeg to face the Jets on Saturday afternoon
before concluding the trip on Monday night at the Pepsi Center against
Colorado.

The Stars’ next home game will be Tuesday
against those same Avalanche they faced one night prior as they will
complete their latest back-to-back but this time at home for a change.

And after ending a quick two-game homestand on a
very sour note, Ruff definitely expects to see a bounce back performance
on Thursday at Bridgestone Arena against the
Preds.

“This is a good character test, to bounce back
from a game where you were collectively a bad team,” Ruff said.