DALLAS – Much like in soccer, a two-goal lead can often be the worst thing to have in hockey. That’s exactly where the Dallas Stars stood after two periods, ahead 4-2, against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night at American Airlines Center.
But by the time the final horn sounded with 2:11 left in overtime, Dallas had been outscored 4-1 the final 22:11 and lost 6-5 thanks to the game-winner by Flyers captain Claude Giroux 2:49 into the extra frame.
Naturally, it was an outcome that didn’t sit too well with second-year Stars head coach Lindy Ruff.
"We made some great plays in the game. We had some guys who had trouble defending early. I thought we came around," Ruff said. "But when you have a two-goal lead, and even on the fifth goal, we lost two guys in the forecheck, let them come all the way up ice. That to me is just a lack of focus. Garbage hockey."
Dallas got two power-play goals from longtime defenseman Trevor Daley, who also added an assist. The Stars also wasted four-point nights from Jason Spezza, who scored his first goal for Dallas to accompany three assists and Tyler Seguin, who had four assists.
As if blowing a two-goal lead wasn’t insulting enough, the Stars also lost young defenseman Patrik Nemeth to a lacerated right arm 58 seconds into the game. Nemeth, who did not return to the ice, was caught by the left skate of Philadelphia’s R.J. Umberger and the prognosis is far from favorable.
"He’s going to be out for a good period of time," Ruff said.
So, the Dallas win streak ends at two and the Stars are still searching for their first win on home ice with their next opportunity coming Tuesday against the Vancouver Canucks.
And for what is still a pretty young team, this was a game that was full of teachable moments.
"We lose that game by not protecting the two-goal lead. If you want be an elite team in the league and you get a two-goal lead in the third, you’ve got to lock those down," Spezza said.
But it still is only one game and if there was one plus to take away from Saturday’s OT loss it was that the Dallas power play was 2-for-3.
"We got it going and got some good passes," Daley said of the power play. "The power play wasn’t the issue. It was pretty good tonight but the penalty kill’s got to be better. Our five-on-five play has to be a lot better in our own end, just unacceptable."
Another positive for Dallas was the solid performance from young winger Curtis McKenzie, who made his NHL debut on the Stars’ fourth line.
"I thought he played well. He was great on the walls, did a lot of good things," Ruff said. "He was a bright spot for me. He did the things he needed to do; he played the game smart; he was great on one great scoring opportunity. I like him – it was a good first game."