DALLAS - The Dallas Stars played their third straight solid game, but this time they could only get one point out of it, not two. The Stars overcame 2-1 and 3-2 deficits and got the game to overtime, but fell 4-3 in a shootout to the Toronto Maple Leafs before a sellout crowd of 18,532 at American Airlines Center Friday night.
"It was a great atmosphere. Those Leafs fans brought energy in the building, battling against our fans. It was a lot of fun,” said Stars forward Eric Nystrom, who scored two goals. “But when it comes down to a shootout, it comes down to chance. It’s not about the team, it’s about individuals. You take those with a grain of salt, but we played really hard tonight and did a lot of good things. We’ve got to continue to do that.”
Toronto’s Joffrey Lupul scored the only goal of the shootout, beating Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen with a wrist shot. Loui Eriksson, Jamie Benn and Mike Ribeiro could not crack Toronto goalie Jonas Gustavsson in the skills competition.
“I thought that we played very well, but I felt I didn’t have a really good night. I let in too many goals with only about 20 shots,” said Lehtonen, who stopped 20 of 23 shots in the game. “We had the better chances, but their goalie played very well. When you go to the shootout you never know what’s going to happen - they have good shooters, we have good shooters. It’s good that we got one point, but I wasn’t happy with the way I played.”
It was the first time the Stars, who have points in three straight games (2-0-1) have lost in a game that has gone beyond regulation this season. They are now 4-1 in those games with a 2-1 record in the shootout and a 2-0 mark in overtime.
“We worked hard,” said Stars forward Radek Dvorak, who scored the game-tying goal for the Stars. “It’s too bad we came up with just one point, but it shows that we can play the whole 60 minutes. If you want to keep putting points on the board and if you want to play our game, you have to work hard and we did that.”
The Stars opened the scoring at the 4:03 mark of the game when Nystrom took a pass from Michael Ryder and beat Gustavsson with a shot from the slot.
Just under four minutes later, Phaneuf gave Toronto the lead when he scored off a point shot with the Leafs on the power play.
The Stars tied the game on Nystrom’s second goal of the night early in the second period. Jamie Benn sent a pass to Radek Dvorak on the rush and Dvorak set up Nystrom, who slipped the puck past Gustavsson at the 4:38 mark of the second.
The Stars drew even with 7:13 remaining when Mike Ribeiro set up Dvorak, who scored from the right circle.
“I was on a change and I saw Ribby behind the net and all five guys were focusing on him,” Dvorak said. “He’s a playmaker and you know he’ll always find you, so I just tried to get open for him and the puck ended up on my stick. I just tried shooting high and it went in.”
Both teams had late power play chances, couldn’t cash in. The Stars were 0-4 on the power play in the game and are now 0-15 on the PP over the last six games.
“That is probably the key, we needed a power play goal,” said Gulutzan. “We have had that game maybe in the third with the late power play.”
The Maple Leafs won for the third time in the last four games.
“It’s a big two points for our team coming in here,” said Phaneuf. “I thought they played really well. They’re a real hard-working team. They’re where they’re at in the standings in the West for a reason, so we knew it would be a big test for us. I thought we really stuck to it for the full 65 minutes and the shootout to pull out two really big points.”
*Friday night’s sellout was the first of the season for the Stars.
*Stars forward Tomas Vincour left the game briefly in the third period after being hit into the boards by Leafs defenseman Luke Schenn. Vincour returned and finished the game, and Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said Vincour was fine.