Inconsistent Stars fall at home to Jets
DALLAS---When the Dallas Stars beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 at American Airlines Center on Friday night, some wondered if that three-goal victory marked the start of a positive stretch for Lindy Ruff's club.
Never mind the fact that the Canadiens were running on fumes by the time they hit the ice at AAC three nights ago. Montreal had played in Chicago the night before and didn't arrive in Dallas until 3 AM on Saturday morning and they looked like a tired team against the Stars.
But any sort of goodwill or old-fashioned optimism Stars fans had after that win against the Habs evaporated rather quickly on Tuesday night in a 5-2 loss to Central Division rivals the Winnipeg Jets.
The Stars (10-13-5), who fell to 5-6-5 at the AAC, trailed 2-1 after one period and after tying the game early in the second, Dallas conceded three unanswered in the second and that's how it ended, in a three-goal defeat.
"It started with our defense," Ruff said. "Our puck movement started in the first period, first couple shifts. We threw a couple pucks in bad places, iced the puck, gave up a 2-on-1 on an easy neutral-zone play where it was just a simple D-to-D pass. I thought that's the worst our defense has struggled as a group tonight. That affects scoring chances, our puck movement, our transition game. I thought physically we got dominated down low -- our defense."
Dallas' Tyler Seguin did score his NHL-leading 22nd of the season in the first period to tie the game at one, a power-play goal.
But other than Seguin's top-shelf tally, the special teams were a mixed bag as the Jets scored both a power-play and a shorthanded goal in the victory.
The dagger came late in the second period when Winnipeg's Michael Frolik scored on a breakaway, winning a footrace with Dallas defenseman Alex Goligoski to make it 5-2, this coming with the Jets down a man after Ben Chiarot was called for crosschecking with 1:47 left in the middle frame.
That play was indicative of the rough night "Goose" had in the back for the Stars.
"Goligoski had a tough night," Ruff said. "He's been fighting the injuries. He's going to continue to fight; he gives me everything he's got. But he had a tough night and I think maybe some of that affected him too."
Frolik's goal, the Jets' fourth shorthanded tally of the season, was one which the AAC crowd didn't like. And as the horn sounded to officially bring the middle 20 minutes to a merciful close, the Stars were serenaded with a chorus of boos as they headed to the locker room.
Not only did the Stars allow three unanswered in the middle frame, but the second of those was a rather soft goal which Dallas color man Daryl "Razor" Reaugh aptly termed "Angora soft" which Winnipeg's Adam Lowry tapped in off Lehtonen's stick before going through his wickets.
Lowry's first of two goals for the visitors sent Lehtonen to the bench in favor of backup netminder Jussi Rynnas.
Lehtonen stopped 14 of the 17 shots he faced while Rynnas only faced four shots, stopping two.
"It (my game) wasn't at the level where it needs to be," Lehtonen said. "There were some good saves. The last goal, I was cheating on thinking that he was going to pass."
But as is usually the case in the NHL, redemption is a few days away. Well, in this case, the Stars have to wait until Saturday when the New Jersey Devils visit the AAC to finish the three-game homestand.
Still, Dallas center Jason Spezza thinks maybe having a few days of consecutive practices could be a good thing for him and his teammates to right the ship heading into Saturday's game with a Devils team that naturally likes to limit the opposition's scoring chances.
"Maybe this is what we need, three days to work on things," Spezza said. "We don't get breaks like this very much in the schedule. Maybe this is a bit of a reset for us, a little three-day mini-camp and maybe we can get back some momentum in our season and come ready to play on Saturday."
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