Bruins 5, Stars 1
It may have been the day after Halloween, but this night was downright scary.
For the second straight night, the Dallas Stars surrendered five goals on the road, dropping a 5-1 decision to the Boston Bruins Saturday night at the TD Banknorth Garden.
In a rough-and-tumble contest that saw several big hits, several fights and plenty of 10-minute misconduct penalties handed out, the Stars set a season-high with 71 penalty minutes. But the heightened physical intensity did not result in a better defensive performance, as a three-goal Boston third period blew open a close 2-1 contest in which Dallas held the territorial advantage after two.
“You get opportunities but then make one mistake and it ends up in our net,” Stars coach Dave Tippett said. “It’s a group effort, you win as a team and you lose as a team. We’re giving away too many opportunities and we have to look at our lineup and evaluate it right through.”
After sitting out the last two games, goaltender Marty Turco, who entered the day with the NHL’s worst goals-against average and worst save percentage, returned to the Dallas crease. While he surrendered a goal on the very first shot he faced, one he’d undoubtedly like to have back, he rebounded to play quite well, at least until things got out of hand in the third period.
“For my perspective, it’s getting old and its disheartening,” said Turco, who finished the night with 20 saves. “You need to feel like you did everything you could and we’re just not playing well as a team. After last night, you think guys will come out of their shell. It’s embarrassing, we are in a rut that is going to take a lot to get out of. Everyone is going to need to be on board and I wish we could say we were close but we are really not, sadly.”
Sean Avery scored the only goal for Dallas (4-6-2), which lost for the second straight game.
At the other end of the ice, Boston netminder Tim Thomas, who fashioned back-to-back 1-0 shutouts earlier in the week, made 35 saves.
“Tonight, we were just stupid and it was one of the more embarrassing things I’ve seen, on the ice and with the fans,” said veteran Mike Modano, who was held off the scoresheet for the third straight game. “It got out of hand later, we blew it again and got ourselves into trouble. We took some dumb penalties and we are lacking mental toughness. We are spending more energy on the refs than on winning the game. You allow quality chances like we are and it doesn’t matter who is in net.”
With the score tied 1-1 after one, a gift of a goal gave Boston a 2-1 lead just 1:52 into the second period. With the clubs skating four-on-four, captain Brenden Morrow
turned the puck over behind the Dallas net, where Patrice Bergeron collected it, stepped out front and stuffed it inside the left post before Turco could get over.
Dallas enjoyed a 45-second 5-on-3 power play late in the period, but for the second night in a row, they were unable to capitalize on a lengthy two-man advantage.
“We needed a difference-maker in our game,” Tippett said. “The 5-on-3 could have been a difference-maker and it wasn’t.”
“We had a lot of opportunities on the power play, so we just have to get one in,” said winger Loui Eriksson
, whose four-game point streak was snapped. “We have to shoot it more and get traffic in front.”
After Thomas thwarted the Stars on no less than five power plays in the second period, Avery almost squeezed another one past him five-on-five with 50 seconds left in the frame. Immediately following a face-off in the Boston zone, Avery pounced on a loose puck in the circle and swatted it towards the net. The puck pinballed off Zdeno Chara’s skate and slid through Thomas’ pads before skittering just past the far goalpost.
So despite outshooting the Bruins 21-5 over the course of the period, with each club also hitting a post (Stephane Robidas
for Dallas, Shawn Thornton for Boston), Dallas still gave up the only goal of the frame and trailed by one going into the third.
Perhaps after such an expense of effort that resulted in nothing tangible on the scoreboard caused them to sag just a bit, or maybe Boston got re-energized from surviving the onslaught, but heading into the final period, the Bruins came out with much more jump.
Turco had to make big saves on Marc Savard and then Marco Sturm in the first two and a half minutes of the third, but then the Bruins scored again at 4:07 to go up 3-1. Off the rush, Phil Kessell carried into the Dallas zone, made the patented toe-drag move at the top of the right circle to back off Dallas defender Mark Fistric
and then fired a scorching wrist shot that beat Turco between the pads.
Some of the ongoing rough stuff boiled over less than a minute later, after a series of big hits, including a devastating hit by Boston defenseman Andrew Ference at center ice that leveled Steve Ott
, eventually resulting in a fight between Avery and Ference.
Another heavyweight battle came at 9:31 when Krys Barch squared off with Thornton, with Thornton getting a bit of the edge in that one.
The Bruins then brought the hammer down with 8:55 remaining when defenseman Mark Stuart scored his first goal of the season and sixth NHL goal in his 126th career game. On a 3-on-2 rush into the Dallas zone, Stephane Yelle carried into the right circle before feeding Stuart in the high slot, and Stuart’s fierce wrist shot through a screen beat Turco over the shoulder.
The thuggish Bruins struck again at 11:44 when, after Avery leveled Milan Lucic with a clean hit, Savard jumped in with punches flying at Avery and then, as mild-mannered Matt Niskanen
approached the group to give support to his teammates, Boston defenseman Shane Hnidy greeted him with a flurry of punches as well before either player had a chance to get set for fisticuffs.
Adding further insult, Sturm notched his second of the night on a power play with 5:43 still on the clock. In a nice tic-tac-toe passing play, P.J. Axelsson found Sturm alone at the right post for a tap-in into the open net to give Boston an unsightly 5-1 lead.
Dallas has now surrendered at least five goals in three of their last four outings and six of the last nine.
“It’s been frustrating like this all year and we are just taking one step forward and one step back,” Robidas said. “Until we play together defensively, it’s going to be tough to snap out of this. We need to make sure we play consistently for 60 minutes every night, that’s all we can do. You lose games, you give goals and you get frustrated. Right now, we are not playing well enough for this organization.”
Center Brad Richards
, after sitting out Friday night’s loss in Chicago with a lower body injury, was back in the lineup and had the game’s first scoring chance, just 1:40 into the game. Ott fed a short pass from behind the net to Richards in front, but Thomas made a nice pad save on Richards’ resulting one-timer.
About a minute later, though, the Bruins struck for the game’s first goal. Sturm, stationed at the top of the left face-off circle, received a pass out of the left corner from Blake Wheeler and ripped a one-timer that somehow squeezed through Turco at 2:41.
The Stars tied it at 7:55 on Avery’s second goal of the season. Avery intercepted a Boston pass inside the Dallas zone, then sped up ice on the rush. Dealing with a rolling puck and a defender closing in, Avery snapped a shot from the right circle that fluttered over Thomas’ shoulder and just under the crossbar to make it 1-1.
Dallas dodged a bullet with 5:37 remaining in the opening period when, killing a four-minute power play, Turco made perhaps his best save of the night. After a shot from the point was blocked in front, David Krejci scooped the loose puck out of a few skates and lifted a backhander towards a seemingly open net, but Turco, sitting on the ice, lunged out and snagged it in his glove.
Turco then made another outstanding stop with 24 seconds remaining in the first when Wheeler fed a wide open Yelle in front. Yelle fired a wrist shot that appeared headed for the open side of the net, but a diving Turco got his glove on it again to keep the game tied 1-1 going into the second.
While this was technically the second installment of a five-game road trip, the Stars actually have plenty of time to return home and practice this week before traveling again for their next contest in Anaheim next Friday, Nov. 7 (9 pm start, my27).
“We’re finding ourselves on the short end of too many games like this,” Tippett said, “and when that happens, you have to evaluate where you’re at, your personnel, and this week, with a long week, there will be lots of evaluation going on. You can take that however you want it.”
- Ott was one of the focal points of the night, playing a solid feisty game. He delivered five hits, one shy of Robidas’ team lead, and after logging 14:38 of ice time, somehow ended up with 18 minutes in penalties before he exited with a 10-minute misconduct at 10:37 of the third period. He also had a shot on goal and went 5-0 on face-offs.
- In addition to his goal, Avery ended up with 21 penalty minutes before leaving with a 10-minute misconduct of his own just after the midway point of the third period. He also fired four shots on goal and doled out four hits, in 10:50 of ice time.
- Philippe Boucher led the club in ice time with 26:43 and also blocked a game-high four shots.
- The Dallas power play was 0-for-6 against the NHL’s worst penalty killing unit, leaving them 0-for-11 on the weekend. The Stars came into the night with the NHL’s 23rd-ranked PP unit, and are now 8-for-58 overall this season.
- After Chris Conner made his season debut Friday in Chicago following his recall from AHL Peoria earlier that day, he sat as a healthy scratch with Richards’ return to the lineup.
- Winger Jere Lehtinen (undisclosed injury) and defenseman Doug Janik (eye) also sat out once again for medical reasons and are each listed as day-to-day, as is Sergei Zubov (hip). All three could be back for next Friday night’s game.
- Despite the loss, the Stars still boast a 8-3-3 record in their last 14 contests against the Bruins, outscoring them 40-30 over that span. The club is 10-6-4 against Boston since moving to Dallas in 1993.
- Turco came into the game sporting an impressive career record against the Bruins, owning a 4-1-0 mark with one shutout and a microscopic 0.79 goals-against average in five meetings.
|Three star selections