Stars home, ready for return of playoffs to Dallas
Tyler Seguin’s week away from Dallas felt a little longer, probably because it included a pair of one-goal losses at Anaheim to start a first-round playoff series.
The Dallas Stars headed west last weekend celebrating their first postseason berth since 2008 before a meaningless regular-season finale in Phoenix.
They came home subdued but resolute, ready to see how fans who used to think playoff hockey was as regular as Easter on their calendar will react to 2,162 days without it. Game 3 is Monday night.
"Be interesting to see the atmosphere, especially with these fans not seeing playoff hockey in a while," said Seguin, the team’s leading scorer in the regular season. "Pretty long trip. Feels like we haven’t been home in a while."
Seguin has seen his share of the postseason, even though he’s just 22. But about half the Dallas roster hasn’t, including linemate Jamie Benn, who was second to Seguin in points during the regular season.
The inexperience showed in the playoff opener, when the Stars fell behind 3-0 in the first period of a 4-3 loss.
"Other than that I think once the guys got their feet wet everyone stepped up and did a pretty good job," said Seguin, who won the 2011 Stanley Cup with Boston and already has 44 career playoff games. "There’s going be Game 7s and a lot of things you can’t really teach. You’ve just got to be there. But we have a lot of experience in this locker room."
All those playoff newcomers still don’t know what a win feels like either. Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf led a 3-2 victory Friday, getting a goal and an assist playing with a mask after he took a slapshot to the jaw in the series opener.
Ryan Perry also had a goal for the Ducks, who are looking for their first playoff series win since 2009 a year after losing to Detroit in the first round as the No. 2 seed. Anaheim is the top seed in the West this season against the wild-card Stars.
"If you look at it, both goals were unassisted," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "So it wasn’t like they had to make great plays. We handed both those players those opportunities."
And the Stars didn’t take advantage of their own chances. They outshot the Ducks 36-19, but couldn’t pull even after Ryan Garbutt got them within a goal in the third period.
Dallas pulled goalie Kari Lehtonen on a power play for a 6-on-4 advantage in the last 3 minutes, creating plenty of havoc but never getting one past Anaheim rookie Frederik Andersen, who has outplayed Lehtonen by stopping 66 of 71 shots.
"We’ve got to find a way to get a little bit more traffic on him, make life tough for him," said Benn, who had a goal on five shots in his playoff debut but just one shot Friday. "He’s been making some pretty big saves and we’ve got to find a way to bury our chances."
If the Stars are going to get back in the series, home ice is the likely place to do it. They were 23-11-7 during the regular season, including 8-1-1 in their last 10. The home finale was a dominating 3-0 win over St. Louis to clinch a playoff spot.
"It’s pretty hard to go on the road," Seguin said. "It’s an opportunity here at home to do the same thing they did to us."