After an up-and-down three-game road trip, the Dallas Stars returned home to face the Washington Capitals, and even though they held scoring star Alexander Ovechkin scoreless, the Stars still wound up on the wrong end of the scoreboard.
Alexander Semin ripped a scorching wrist shot over goaltender Marty Turco’s shoulder from the top of the right face-off circle for 2:17 into overtime to give Washington at 6-5 victory Saturday night at the American Airlines Center.
Dallas had trailed 5-4 until, with Turco on the bench for an extra attacker, goal by Mike Modano with 56 seconds left in regulation tied it and salvaged a point.
“We hung in there and got a point out of it, but we’re not going to be too successful giving up five or six goals a night,” Modano said.
Facing their fourth consecutive Eastern Conference opponent, the Stars surrendered four-plus goals on home ice again - so far, four is the fewest they’ve allowed this season in four home games.
“The goals-against is a joke. There’s a lot of guilty parties out there,” Stars coach Dave Tippett said. “We’ve got flaws from some veteran players right now that we expect to be a lot better than they are. Our goaltending hasn’t been very good. You can’t have an .820 save percentage and survive in this league and we’ve got a young guy behind him that’s very unproven.”
“It wasn’t a good enough showing defensively and that cost us the game,” added defenseman Stephane Robidas. “We are giving up way too many goals and it’s hard to win in this league like that. We have to do the little things right, simplify our game and not try to do too much.”
Russian veteran Sergei Fedorov, the former longtime Red Wing, scored two goals for the Caps, the 474th and 475th goals of his career, moving him past Alexander Mogilny to become the NHL’s all-time leading goal scorer among Russian players.
For Dallas, Modano had a goal and two assists, and Sean Avery, Loui Eriksson and rookie B.J. Crombeen each collected a goal and an assist on the night. Turco allowed six goals on 30 shots in goal.
“We’re not really sure what is wrong,” Turco said. “For me, I feel good out there and I have a lot of energy. I’m seeing the puck well. Any time you give up goals, you wish you had them back. We are working hard and we need to realize that the little things go a long way.”
Trailing 4-3 entering the final period, the Stars tied the game just 56 seconds into the third period on Eriksson’s third goal in two games, a quick wrist shot from the slot that beat Capitals goalie Jose Theodore between the pads.
Washington answered quickly, however, as rookie Tyler Sloan, playing his third game, connected for his first NHL at 2:22. After Turco stopped Viktor Kozlov’s backhander from the slot, Sloan, all alone in front, popped the rebound over Turco’s pad to go up 5-4.
The Stars pressed for the equalizer, and Modano sprung Toby Petersen on a short-handed breakaway with four minutes left, but Theodore made a sprawling save.
Dallas pulled Turco with 1:03 remaining and worked the puck to captain Brenden Morrow behind the net. Morrow then fed a nice backhand pass out front to Modano and he slammed it home to tie the game and send it into overtime.
“I was just trying to work my way to the net and everything just seemed to open up there,” Modano explained. “Brenden made a great pass, it was a good play to get it down low to him, but no one was around me, so it was nice that it was a bang-bang play. I was able to get it off before they closed on me.”
With many of the sellout crowd of 18,532 in attendance eager to see Ovechkin, the NHL’s reigning leading scorer and Hart Trophy winner as MVP, he put on a dazzling display just 1:15 into the game. Carrying the puck down the left side, he made a sweet dipsy-doodle move to zip around Robidas before firing a wrist shot from the left circle, but Turco made a nice glove save.
The Stars got on the board first on Avery’s first goal in a Stars uniform at 10:19. After Theodore made a pad save on Crombeen’s long slap shot, the rebound ricocheted right to Avery in the left circle, and his one-timer found the open side of the net to make it 1-0.
The Capitals answered on a power play just 2:19 later, as Fedorov surpassed Alexander Mogilny to become the NHL’s all-time goal scoring leader among Russian players with his 474th career goal. Fedorov found a loose puck in the high slot and ripped a wrist shot through a screened Turco’s pads.
Washington took a 2-1 lead with 3:02 left in the first period on Tomas Fleischmann’s second goal of the season. Fleischmann stole the puck from rookie Fabian Brunnstrom at the Washington blue line and sped the other way, dishing it off to Michael Nylander inside the Dallas zone. Nylander carried into the left corner, then fed back to Fleischmann at the top of the left circle, and his wrister beat Turco on the short side.
Brunnstrom made amends for that, connecting for his team-leading fifth goal on a power play just 9.6 seconds before the first intermission. Avery, skating behind the Caps’ net, slid a slick backhand pass back to Brunnstrom in front. With Theodore leaning off the post following Avery, Brunnstrom jammed the puck into the short side to tie it 2-2.
Fedorov got his second of the night and 475th of his career at 11:23 of the second period, looking much younger than his 38 years. Semin carried into the left circle and dished off to Fedorov alone in the slot, who had a partial breakaway. Fedorov made a deke to his backhand and slid the puck between Turco’s pads to make it 3-2.
The Capitals made it a two-goal lead with 4:44 remaining in the period on Fleischmann’s second of the night. After turnovers by Turco and Brunnstrom left the Capitals in possession of the puck in the Dallas zone, Fleischmann wired a booming slap shot from the top of the right circle over Turco’s shoulder just under the crossbar.
Dallas responded just 39 seconds later when Crombeen collected his first NHL goal. Trevor Daley controlled the puck along the left boards and fed a beautiful cross-ice pass to a charging Crombeen at the far post, and even though he was blanketed by a Washington defender, Crombeen managed to get his stick free and tap it into the open net.
“I just got my stick on it and was fortunate for it to go in,” said Crombeen, skating in his 17th career regular season contest. “I would have enjoyed it a lot more if we had gotten the win. We need to clean up our play. We’re not happy with the result and that is all that matters.”
The Stars now get a few days off to re-group until facing Minnesota here at the American Airlines Center on Wednesday (7:30 pm, FSN).
“It just seems a bit of up-and-down here,” Modano said. “It comes down to defensive coverage, that ability to defend one-on-one, closing time and space off and backing up one another. We just need to continue to drill that in our heads and understand that’s always been our MO here, the way we’ve played for years. The sooner we understand that and adapt to it, and get it in our game, the better.”
“Inch by inch, you have to evaluate your personnel,” Tippett said. “You have to evaluate the situations you’re putting them in, you evaluate how your team’s playing, who’s making mistakes, who the repeat offenders are. We’re going to pound away until we find a way to do it right.”
- Morrow had two assists on the night while Mike Ribeiro also collected an assist, leaving the two tied with Modano atop the club scoring list with 10 points.
- Modano led the team with six shots on goal, while his rookie linemate James Neal delivered a team-high five hits.
- Robidas logged a team-high 27:01 of ice time.
- Despite the loss, the Stars now sport a 12-2-3 record against Washington going back to the 1996-97 season. In Dallas, they’re now 9-1-2 since the club moved here in 1993, outscoring them 45-25 in those contests. Prior to this game, the Capitals’ last win in Dallas was a 3-2 overtime triumph on Dec. 28, 2001 and their only regulation victory here came on Oct. 17, 1995 (4-3).
1 - 0 DAL