Penalty kill fails Stars in loss to Canucks

The Dallas Stars did a lot of things right Friday night against the Vancouver Canucks. Penalty killing wasn’t one of them and it was costly. The Canucks scored three times on the power play in a 4-1 victory over the Stars, who have now lost four of their last five games (1-3-1).

“We did a lot of good things. We had 45 shots and hit a bunch of posts,” said forward Steve Ott. “Our penalty kill was awful. If our penalty kill plays well we have a chance to win that game, obviously.”

The Stars outshot the Canucks 45-22 in the game and had a lot of great chances in the game, including a penalty shot. But Vancouver made the most of its chances, especially with the man-advantage. Vancouver scored on its first two chances on the power play and three of its three of its first four in the game.

"I think tonight we played a pretty strong game, but we had some adversity and tonight it came in the form of penalties that were self-inflicted for the most part and we didn’t have any confidence in our penalty kill,” Stars coach Marc Crawford said. “I thought that maybe we were busy reading their press clippings about how good their power play is, and it seemed to me, we were back on our heels."

The Stars’ penalty kill, a strength during the team’s run over the last month, has been a sore spot recently. It’s given up seven goals over the last five games

The Canucks got their first power play late in the first period and they scored 40 seconds into it when Daniel Sedin partially fanned on a one-time pass but it still ended up on the stick of Henrik Sedin, who scored from the slot.

Just 47 seconds later Raffi Torres took a pass from Jannik Hansen, split the Dallas defense and scored on a breakaway.

The Stars made a big push in the first half of the second period, outshooting the Canucks 11-2 over the first 9:40 of the period, but the Canucks got their second power play of the game and scored just 12 seconds into it when Henrik Sedin scored from the right circle to make it a 3-0 game.

The Stars had a power play chance later in the period and with 1:23 left in it James Neal was awarded a penalty shot, but his bid was turned away by Canucks goalie Cory Schneider. The Stars couldn’t cash in on the rest of the power play and it was representative of how things went for the Stars on this night, lots of chances but few results.

“We had 40-something shots, some pretty chances and we were an inch away from of it most of the night,” said Stars captain Brenden Morrow.

The Canucks added another power play goal later in the second to make it a 4-0 game, ending the night for Stars starter Kari Lehtonen. Morrow tallied on Dallas’ third power play of the night to round out the scoring in the game.

“I give our guys full credit. Nobody quit,” said Crawford. “They kept battling throughout the entire match and we did most of the things we wanted to. We got lots of chances, we hit a number of posts and we battled. … We can’t look at this game and say we can throw it all out. There was a lot of good stuff in it.”

A bump in the road for Lehtonen

Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen was pulled with 3:10 left in the second period after giving up his fourth goal on 14 shots Friday. Lehtonen, who surrendered 6 goals on Wednesday, has given up 10 goals on 39 shots in the last two games.

Stars coach Marc Crawford said he expects Lehtonen to bounce back.

“We know that he’s a great goalie. We know that he’s got it in him,” said Crawford. “I don’t think there is any player or anybody on this team that doesn’t believe he is going to work his way through it. Players have droughts in their seasons. … but it’s not as up front and center when it’s a goalie.

“You look at the goals tonight, one got tipped, two were on the power play where he really didn’t have much of a chance and the other was a breakaway. We’ve got to eliminate those Grade 1 chances.”