Stars experience déjà vu in Twin Cities
It’s very doubtful that the great Yogi Berra was taking in Saturday’s game between the Dallas Stars at Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, but one of the Hall of Fame catcher’s more memorable if not ultra confusing quotes about it being "déjà vu all over again" was exactly what the Stars experienced in a tough 3-2 overtime loss in the Twin Cities.
Much like their 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Jan. 11 at fabled Madison Square Garden, the Stars actually played well for big stretches of the game, well enough to win in fact.
However, when it came down to it, the Wild made a shot when the game was on the line and once again, the Stars came out on the short end of the stick, starting their stretch of three games in four days on a definite down note.
"We outworked them, outplayed them, didn’t give them a lot. Had a tough break on the first one, might have been their only chance on the first. Special teams were good, little bit of bad luck," Stars first-year head coach Lindy Ruff said of the disappointing loss.
Much as the story was in the tough loss to the Rangers, a game where the Blueshirts scored the game-winner late in the final period, Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen was again in top form, stopping 16 of 19 shots for Dallas.
But once again, it was the final shot by the Wild that mattered the most, a rebound that was knocked in by the Wild’s Nate Prosser after Lehtonen denied the initial effort by Nino Niederreiter in OT.
Prosser, who now has all of three goals in his NHL career, scored as Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon was playing without a stick on the play and the game ended 2:42 into the extra frame.
Lehtonen had made several big saves earlier in the game to allow the Stars to leave the Land of 10,000 Lakes with at least a point, but that was of little consolation to Ruff.
"You’ve got to get big saves at big times and that can turn the tide for you. You look at the work put into the game and you’re happy with that, but you’re not happy with just getting one point," Ruff said.
At practice on Friday, the Stars head coach had put captain Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin on separate lines. But at morning skate on Saturday, Ruff had Benn and Seguin back on Dallas’ top line alongside Rich Peverley.
However, when that group struggled, Ruff tinkered with that line yet again.
"I thought (the) Fiddler line was good. I thought (the) Horcoff line was good," Ruff said. "(The line with Cody) Eakin, OK, I thought Seguin, Benn and Peverley struggled. I broke that up and thought at least Eakin, Benn and Chiasson were better.”
Stars rookie forward Valeri Nichushkin was a healthy scratch for Dallas, a move Ruff made in light of the young Russian’s recent struggles.
One positive for Dallas was the fact that another rookie, Alex Chiasson, found the back of an opposing net for the first time in 20 games with his power-play goal in the third period that put the Stars in position to get at least a point by forcing the extra frame.
"Great to see, it was great to see," Ruff said.
Dallas returns to the ice Monday night at Nashville. The Stars will then complete the back-to-back Tuesday against the Wild at American Airlines Center, the start of a three-game homestand that will also see the Toronto Maple Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins visit the AAC for the only time this season.