The Stars followed their “best game of the season” with probably their worst outcome.
They blew a 3-1 lead in the third period Tuesday and lost 4-3 in regulation to the very same Calgary Flames they’re chasing in the standings. It was a four-point swing that very well could be crucial at the end of the season when the playoff invitations are sent out.
That kind of takes the gloss off a 6-1 win over Boston on Sunday.
“It’s really disappointing,” said defenseman Joel Hanley. “We’re obviously going to be battling with this team all year and it would’ve been huge for us to come away with two points. I think we just have to move past this and look to the future. If we play like we did versus Boston and kind of in the first two periods [tonight], we’re going to be fine. I think we just stopped playing.”
The Flames move to 22-13-6, good for 50 points. Dallas falls to 23-18-2 (48 points). Calgary plays at Arizona Wednesday and can expand its lead further. The Stars, meanwhile, will get a chance to sit around for a week to think about a crippling defeat.
“It’s one of those games where you piss it away,” said Jason Robertson. “Going into this break it’s definitely going to be in our minds. We’ve got to learn from it.”
Dallas looked pretty good for parts of the game, even after giving up the first goal 1:54 into the opening frame. The Stars bounced back with some hard-working shifts that resulted in the first ever regular-season goal for Hanley. The puck deflected in, and that really helped the Stars take control.
Robertson followed 14 minutes later with a beautiful snipe, and Jamie Benn camped out on the doorstep for a second period goal that made it 3-1. But even then, coach Rick Bowness said he wasn’t really happy with the team’s performance.
“It wasn’t just the last six minutes, it started a lot earlier than that,” Bowness said. “I thought we were lucky to be up 3-1. It just carried over the entire third period, everything we did so well against Boston in terms of managing the puck and getting above and crowding them, we did the exact opposite tonight. We let them come at us in waves. We kept turning the puck over at the wrong time, so we beat ourselves tonight.”
The Stars registered 20 giveaways by the stat-keepers and didn’t take care of the puck. Still, they were in control of the game and should’ve been able to close things out. But they sat back in the third period and allowed Calgary to fire away at Jake Oettinger. Calgary had a 17-5 advantage in shots on goal in the third period, and it was worse than that before Dallas gained a late power-play opportunity.
That just made things worse, as the game was tied 3-3 and the Stars had a chance to make a statement. Instead, they fumbled the man advantage and then gave up the game-winning goal in the final two minutes. It was a meltdown of historic proportions.
“I think we got what we deserved,” Robertson said. “We stepped off the gas pedal and they took it to us.”
Given the opportunity to see some potential good in having to sit with the loss, Bowness declined to be positive. Maybe the Stars can come back from this and use it as motivation when play begins after the All-Star break. Maybe this can ignite a fire in the second half.
Or maybe not.
“It’s a bad thing,” Bowness said. “You lose a game like that, that’s bad. I hate beating ourselves. If a team comes in here and we play well and they beat us, we live with that. But when we beat ourselves like we did tonight, that’s very frustrating.”
On this night, the Stars wasted a huge opportunity.
Courtesy Mike Heika