Some thoughts and observations after the Dallas Stars lost 4-3 in a shootout to the Colorado Avalanche Saturday night at American Airlines Center.
The Stars’ play has been spotty the last two games and they’ve dug themselves into a hole in both of them, but they’ve been able to rally and come away with three out of a possible four . That shows some resiliency and mental toughness. While that’s a positive, falling behind in games on regular basis is not a formula for success. “We’ve got the firepower to be able to come back in games,” said James Neal, “But at the same time we don’t want to be down goals and always be clawing our way back into games.”
The Stars didn’t start well in this game. Colorado had the Stars on their heels a bit. All the penalties in the first didn’t help. The Stars might not have been happy with a couple of the calls, especially those on Brian Sutherby and Brenden Morrow, but they were putting themselves in a position to get questionable calls.
Turning point early in the game was the four minute penalty on Morrow late in the first. One was for tripping and one was for unsportsmanlike conduct when Morrow expressed when some displeasure with the call. The Avalanche scored about 20 seconds before the second penalty expired to make it a 2-0 game and again a couple of minutes later to make it 3-0. Stars coach Marc Crawford questioned the unsportsmanlike call on Morrow: “It’s funny, referees have different interpretations at different times. Brenden Morrow will usually get the benefit of the doubt. I don’t know how the guy could have heard him from the corner of the rink and Brenden’s got the glass in front of him. Brenden must really have a strong voice.”
The next turning point was when Adam Burish scored off the rush from the right wing late in the second. That brought some life to a nice sized crowd at the AAC and some life to the Stars, who scored just 23 seconds later to make it a 3-2 game. The Stars took control after that, tied it midway through the third period and were all over Colorado in the final minutes of the game.
Give Crawford for juggling things on the lines. The Stars were flat and he did a complete overhaul on the combinations. They worked and helped get the team back in the game. But it really took that goal by Burish to get things going.
The goal Budaj allowed to Burish was a bad one and one I am sure he’d like to have back, but Budaj was great at the end of the game. Colorado looked exhausted and they got caught on some extended shifts and Budaj made some big stops to get the game to overtime. He was sharp in the shootout too.
Kari Lehtonen had some big save too and played well. He held the Stars in the game and gave them a chance to rally. Suffered a rare shootout loss though, dropping to 23-9 in the skills competition in his NHL career.
I thought James Neal had a great game. He was probably the most notable Dallas player on the ice. Dominant at times. Relentless in the third period. He’s got three goals in the last two games.
Really liked Avs rookie defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. He had a couple of nice assists and handled himself well out there.
Stars now play four of their next five on the road, where they’ve lost three in a row and four of the last five. It will be a good test for them.