By Martin Iheke
Not a particularly good week for your Dallas Stars as they try to keep their playoff hopes alive. They lose Alex Chiasson to a shoulder injury in a 5-2 loss at the Chicago Blackhawks last Monday and it is starting to show in these last few games without his presence in the lineup. They have now lost two straight even though they were in these games until the end. I will start with the good where after missing the previous three games, Kari Lehtonen returned to face the Vancouver Canucks at home last Thursday. He was brilliant stopping 31 of 32 shots as the Stars cruised to a 5-1 win. After the game, he talked about how he felt. “It was good. It took me a little bit to get comfortable,” Lehtonen said. “I had lots of energy and I was just trying to contain that and not be too excited,” as he continued. It really was a big performance for him considering lately, he had not been very good in the first games he plays after being out for an extended period of time because of an injury. Also, knowing that the Stars needed to pick up two points at home made his performance that much more impressive.
Now the bad as the Stars could not celebrate too much because they had to travel to St. Louis to play the Blues the next night in another big game. The Blues jumped to a 2-0 lead after two periods thanks to goals by Chris Stewart and Ryan Reaves before Antoine Roussel cut the lead in half with a third period goal. The Stars desperately tried to even the score up late in the third knowing full well that if they can just get the game into overtime, they would earn at least a point. They could not as they lost to the Blues, 2-1, in regulation. After the game head coach Glen Gulutzan was happy with the effort. “I thought we played hard,” Gulutzan said according to dallasnews.com. “We made a big push in the third to get some offense against a stingy team. We just fell a little short,” as he continued. It would have been better if they were able to get the game into overtime to pick up a point to stay within two points of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Instead, they left with nothing and that is something this team cannot afford at this point in the season.
The Stars put up a better performance against the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings in Los Angeles this past Sunday, by at least getting a point but could not get the full two points as they lost in overtime, 4-3. They trailed, 2-0, again before coming all the way back to take the lead in the 3rd period thanks to goals by Loui Eriksson, Antoine Roussel and Alex Goligoski. They lost the lead when Kings forward Dustin Brown scored a goal on the power play to tie the game at three apiece. The game would go into overtime and with about a minute to left, Kings forward Jeff Carter would score the game-winning goal to give the Kings the victory. After the game, Goligoski said he is more concerned about points and moving on from the loss. “Our work ethic was there, as it has been for a while now, so it’s always good to see,” Goligoski said according to dallasnews.com. “Points are huge right now. We battled to get one point, and then kind of let it slip right there, but we’ve just got to move on. If we win these next three, we feel like we have a pretty good shot here,” as he continued.
We will see if Goligoski and the Stars can do that as they take on the Sharks in San Jose and play the remaining two games at home to close out the regular season with the Columbus Blue Jackets Thursday night and the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.