By Martin Iheke
If the new-look Dallas Stars wanted to make a good impression in the first game of the new season, they certainly did not accomplish that feat. They fell to the Florida Panthers, 4-2, at home after leading 2-1 early in the third period last Thursday night. The defense looked awful with poor coverage in their zone and a lot of mistakes with the puck not to mention a piss poor power play to boot. A statistic the Stars wanted to improve on is shot differential and again the Stars failed on this getting outshot, 39-27, in the game. Panthers goaltender, Tim Thomas who took all of last season off, was superb in this one with 25 saves.
Stars forward Jamie Benn was disappointed after the game. “Yeah, I think we came out strong and outshot them, 7-1. Then we sat back and they outworked us tonight being a little more determined and they got the win,” Benn said. “No lead is safe. They came out strong and came right at us with two pretty quick goals so it’s something that we have to learn from by taking care of a lead especially if you have it in the third,” as he continued. Benn could not be more right. If you want to be a playoff team, you cannot squander leads in the third period especially at home. Head coach Lindy Ruff agrees as well. “We just didn’t play well enough and we had a little miscue,” Ruff said. “For me it was just that we didn’t come out on the top end of enough battles and the one-on-one type plays. We started the game well, but I thought they took over,” as he continued.
Fortunately for the Stars, they did not have to wait long for their next game to try to bounce back from an ugly loss when they hosted the Washington Capitals last Saturday night. The Capitals have not won in Dallas since 1995 and the Stars did not want that drought to end. Capitals star forward Alexander Ovechkin opened the scoring in the game with a power play goal to put his team up, 1-0. It looked like the Stars would continue their piss poor play from the previous game before forward Erik Cole would tie it up thanks to a nice set up pass from center Tyler Seguin later in the first period. Forward Alex Chiasson would break the tie in the second period with his second goal of the young season as the Stars would go up, 2-1. After that, the Stars settled down and played more of a simplified game keeping the Capitals mostly along the corners of the ice and limiting them to five shots in the third period as the Stars would get their first win of the season, 2-1. Goaltender Kari Lehtonen was terrific with 25 saves.
After the game, Cole talked about the bounce-back performance. “We did a lot of the little things much better tonight in all three zones,” Cole said. “Our compete was in a much higher level than it was the other night so we deserved to win. It wasn’t easy, but we got some real strong efforts from a lot of different guys and we were able to keep four lines in the game for the most part. Our penalty killers did a fantastic job and Kari was great again,” as he continued. No question about it as the Stars’ performance was a complete 180 from the opener. It is now all about building off of this win and developing more chemistry amongst one another. They have yet to score on the power play, but with more practice and opportunities that issue will be rectified.
Right now, the Stars are in the midst of a five-day break between games before they head out on their first road trip of the season. It is a three-game road trip starting at the Winnipeg Jets on Friday, then at the Minnesota Wild the next night before finishing with the Colorado Avalanche next Tuesday night.
Oct. 11 @Jets 7:00 PM
Oct. 12 @Wild 7:00 PM