Just when you think the Dallas Stars were hitting their stride, it hits the fan.
Before Sunday, the Stars were riding high with a five game win streak, comfortable lead in the Wild Card and a chance to move up in the division. With the Blues losing that same day, a win would have put the Stars third in the division and a point away from top spot in the Central.
It seemed simple on paper. Beat the Vancouver Canucks, who sit second from the bottom in the conference, and the Stars will have their highest position in the standings since November.
Instead the Stars played one of their worst games of the season. They allowed six for the second time this season and where shutout at home. That was the second time the Stars were held scoreless at home this season. In fact, their last loss just 12 days prior was their first scoreless frame at home.
Luckily for the Stars, redemption comes immediately. After a five-day layoff, the Stars play the team just above them in the division. The Blues head into town on Friday just two points clear of the Stars for third in the Central. It will be interesting to see how the Stars respond after nearly a week of training.
The Stars tallied two valuable wins last week prior to the Canucks loss.
In Chicago, the Stars took on a disappointing Blackhawks team who find themselves on the outside looking in for their 10th consecutive playoff season.
Jonathan Toews opened the scoring in the first to give the Blackhawks an early lead. But another overpowering second period gave the Stars the lead. Tyler Seguin, Stephen Johns and Tyler Pitlick scored the three goals in the second. An early third period goal by Seguin gave the Stars a two-goal lead they would not surrender, 4-2 win.
It was going to be a challenge on and off the ice to continue their win streak. Off the ice, the team was fighting some rough travel scheduling. There were some delays in Chicago that meant the team was going to land in Dallas at 3 a.m. Meanwhile, the hot Pittsburgh Penguins were coming into town that same night.
With that, the result was pleasantly surprising. The Stars were down two goals early in the first period and it looked like the long day of travel would catch up to the Stars. But Seguin’s goal on a no-look pass by Jamie Benn stopped the Penguins momentum. A scoreless second period lead to an action packed third.
A pair of Stars defensemen goals (Klingberg and Hamhius) put the Stars up a goal early in the period. But Penguin’s Justin Schultz scored with nearly a minute left sending the game into overtime. A couple breakaway chances by the Stars were shutdown by Penguins goaltender Matt Murray, to shootout they went. Seguin’s goal on the second shootout attempt would be plenty for Kari Lehtonen as the Penguins failed to score, 4-3 win in shootout.
The Stars fell into the hands of the trap game two days later against the Canucks. The only drama on Sunday came in the first period. Down a goal, Jason Spezza thought he tied the game. And he was right. Spezza’s wrap-around chance seemed to be spoiled by the Canucks goaltender, but upon further review it looks as if the puck crossed the goal line. However, no camera angle showed concrete evidence of the puck crossing the line and the goal was disallowed. Five goals later, the Stars lost by their worst margin of the season, 6-0.
Upcoming Schedule – All Times Central
2/16 vs Blues 7:30 p.m.
2/18 @ Sharks 7:00 p.m.