The Dallas Stars received superb goaltending but struggled on both offense and defense in a 2-0 shutout against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night.
The inconsistencies continue to roll. At least they’re consistent in that fact.
After finally finding a road win against the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night, the Stars floundered on offense Tuesday night as they wrapped up a three-game road trip with a 2-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks.
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The first period was relatively quiet with neither team finding the back of the net. Some good chances came up for both sides, but the goaltenders stood tall to take a 0-0 tie into first intermission.
The second period was much of the same until the 5:27 mark when Jakob Silfverberg scored on the power play to finally put a goal on the board. The Ducks carried a 1-0 lead into the second intermission.
The final period saw Antti Niemi shine for the Stars and shut down multiple chances with dazzling saves. But Andrew Cogliano scored late in the third to seal the deal with a laser shot.
The Dallas Stars have taken a drastic dip in offensive production since last season. But why has that happened? The Stars still have all of their prime contributors from last year. Yet they still cannot find the goals they need.
Last season, the Stars finished at the top of the pack in the NHL scoring an average of 3.23 goals per game. Now Dallas has dipped to 20th with an average of 2.60. The shutout tonight just made things that much worse.
Without consistent offensive pressure, the Stars will not be getting anywhere anytime soon. And as we have already noted on multiple occasions, Dallas has no time to dwell without consistency.
Niemi played his heart out
While the offense stalled and the defense gave away numerous chances down the stretch, Antti Niemi held down the fort. He made a few show-stopping saves to keep Dallas in the game late and within reach, but their offense just could not find the twine.
He finished the game with a .947 save percentage and did not deserve the loss through his performance. If Niemi can keep it up and the Stars can turn their offensive misfortunes around, they will be hitting a winning stride in no time.
Special teams are not special anymore
The Stars are on the downturn both in terms of the power play and the penalty kill so far in 2017. They have allowed seven power play goals on 13 opportunities so far this year, including one tonight in Anaheim on four chances.
Meanwhile, Dallas has scored two goals on 10 power play opportunities, and went dry against Anaheim on three chances.
The play of the special teams continues to hurt Dallas this year, as they sit 20th in the league in PP percentage (16.8 percent) and 29th on the PK (74.3 percent). These missed chances are starting to put the Stars in a chokehold, and that will most assuredly lead to an early offseason.
The Stars lost a few players tonight as the game progressed along. D Jamie Oleksiak left the game and is expected to miss “a little bit of time,” according to head coach Lindy Ruff. RW Patrick Eaves also left the game after colliding with a Ducks player, but Ruff said that Eaves should be okay.
The standings are starting to tighten
With tonight’s loss and Nashville’s win, the Dallas Stars continue to put themselves in a tighter position in the standings. With 42 points in 42 games, Dallas sits in 12th in the West. They are only two points out of the final wild card spot, but have a game out of hand.
If the Stars cannot capitalize on these chances now, they won’t keep getting them. The Stars are in a tight spot as it is. Without picking up these critical wins, they will continue a slow and steady descent.
The Stars will be back in action on Thursday evening when they take on the Detroit Red Wings at home. Hopefully the warm confines of the American Airlines Center will be enough to push them back into the win column.