Special teams, goaltending struggle in loss to Blues

Games can often turn on goaltending and special teams, and both areas were lackluster for the Dallas Stars Monday night in a 5-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center.

Dallas goaltender Richard Bachman let in two soft goals and the Stars were 0-2 on the power play in the game and 0-2 on the penalty kill. It didn’t help that the Stars were outshot 38-23 in the game.

“Coming on the road against a good defensive club we needed to put more pucks on the net. Our specialty teams need to be better,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “Our power play needs to be better. Their PK generated more shots than our power play and they scored two power play goals. It’s hard to win on the road, especially against this type of club, if your specialty teams aren’t good. “

Bachman, making his eighth straight start, gave up three goals on 25 shots through the first two periods and was replaced by Andrew Raycroft at the beginning of the third period.

“There’s no question a couple of those goals he wishes he had back,” Gulutzan said of Bachman. “Some nights when your goalie maybe isn’t as good you’ve got to get it from somewhere else and we didn’t get it from those other areas.”

The Stars, coming off the break and having to travel on a game day, looked sluggish at times. The Blues put a total of 69 shots towards the Dallas net, including shots on goals, shots that were blocked and those that missed the net. The Stars had 42 shots towards the St. Louis net.

“I think we got outbattled a little bit tonight. They seemed to have an extra step all night,” said Dallas defenseman Alex Goligoski. “That’s pretty much it. They came pretty hard and were able to establish their game better than we were ours.”

With the Blues on their first power play, Chris Stewart beat Bachman with a sharp angle shot from the bottom of the right circle to give the Blues a 1-0 lead 8:24 into the game.

The Stars drew even at 4:22 of the second period when Goligoski set up Mike Ribeiro, who beat Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak with a shot from the right circle.

But the Blues had the lead again less than two minutes later. After a Stars turnover in the neutral zone, an Adam Cracknell shot from the right circle slipped through Bachman and the Blues were up 2-1.

St. Louis made it a 3-1 game with 1.1 seconds left in the second when Jason Arnott scored a power play goal, beating Bachman with a one-timer from the top of the left circle. It was the second power play goal against the Stars in the game and the eighth they’ve allowed over the last four games.

“It’s small details, it’s little things that make a big difference in the game,” Stars forward Eric Nystrom said of the penalty kill woes. “It’s an inch. You put your stick in one lane and it should be in the other, and that’s where they get the puck moving from side to side. It’s little things like that. Sometimes you are rock solid and kill 25 in a row, and then sometimes you feel like you can’t stop it from going into the net. That’s why it’s a long season. But that’s why we got to have a little more desperation.”

The Blues made it 4-1 early in the third when Evgeny Grachev put the rebound of a David Perron shot past Raycroft. That was the only goal that would get by Raycroft, who stopped 11 of 12 shots in the third period.

The Stars made it close, getting goals from Nystrom and Michael Ryder to cut the St. Louis lead to 4-3, but Stewart’s empty net goal with 50.6 seconds left sealed the Stars’ fate on this night.

The win was the seven in the last nine games for the Blues, who improved to 15-3-4 since Ken Hitchcock took over as head coach.

"We played really hard tonight. We did a lot of really good things and probably got a little too revved up towards the end there,” Hitchcock said. "When it's 4-1, we're trying to make it 5-1 or when it's 4-2, we're trying to make it 5-2. It’s little things. Love our effort tonight. Loved our compete. It’s just little things if we can pick it up moving forward that will help us down the line.”


*The Stars were 0-2 on the penalty kill and have now given up eight power play goals over their last four games. They are 7-15 (46.7%) on the penalty kill during that stretch.

*The Stars are 0-8 on the power play over the last three games.

*Michael Ryder ran his goal scoring streak to five games.

*Eric Nystrom’s goal was this 12th of the season, topping his career-high of 11 set in 2009-10 with Calgary.

*Stars Defenseman Stephane Robidas missed his third straight game with a bruised bone in his foot.

*Stars defenseman Sheldon Souray missed the game with a sprained ankle.

*Right wing Tomas Vincour (knee) and goaltender Kari Lehtonen (groin) are on injured reserve.

*Forward Jake Dowell was the lone healthy scratch for Dallas.