Some thoughts and observations from Monday’s game that saw the Dallas Stars’ four-game winning streak come to an end with a 5-4 loss at Tampa Bay.
Special teams were a disaster in this game and special teams play has a way of deciding a lot of games. It started off well with Toby Petersen scoring a shorthanded goal, but it went downhill from there. Tampa Bay was 4-5 on the power play and the Stars were 0-5 on the power play. The Stars’ special teams have struggled this season, especially the penalty kill. It is now 15-25 (60.0%) on the season and a dismal 6-14 (42.9%) on the road. It was a sore spot last season and it’s a problem again. It’s still early, but it’s a cause for concern. Both teams had five power plays. Tampa got ten shots on goal and the Stars got four. One team is doing a better job of keeping shots from getting to the net and it’s not the Stars.
The shots disparity numbers got more disparate after Monday’s game. The Stars were outshot 44-19 and have now been outshot 190-109 through the first five games. That works out to an average of 38.0 shots against per game to 21.8 shots for per game. Getting out shot by that wide of a margin regularly is going to catch up with you eventually, and it did for the Stars on Monday.
The Stars have been able to survive the shots disparity through the first four games because of the big guy in net. Kari Lehtonen was excellent again Monday, stopping 39 shots. He gave up five but he kept the Stars hanging around it and made some great saves or this game could have totally gotten out of hand. He probably would like to have the rebound that led to the Steve Stamkos goal back, but other than that he was under siege most of the night and did an admirable job.
Marc Crawford did some line juggling as the game moved along. He moved Brandon Segal to the Morrow-Ribeiro line and put together of a trio of Tom Wandell, Steve Ott and Adam Burish. He also put Stephane Robidas and Matt Niskanen together to try to generate some more offense from the blue line.
Steven Stamkos had 3 points (1 goals, 2 assists) for Tampa Bay and Dominic Moore scored a pair, but the guy who really stood out to me was defenseman Victor Hedman. He was outstanding. He and defense partner Brett Clark did a nice job on the Stars’ top line, holding James Neal, Brad Richards and Loui Eriksson without a shot on goal through the first two periods. Hedman picked up two assists as well.