DALLAS - Two days after achieving the new season’s high point, the Dallas Stars have experienced the other end of the spectrum.
Following a dominating 6-0 victory over Nashville on Wednesday, Dallas suffered their first regulation loss of 2009-10 as the Boston Bruins blanked them 3-0 Friday at the American Airlines Center.
Led by two goals from Marc Savard and a 27-save shutout from goaltender Tim Thomas, the Bruins controlled the tempo of the game all night.
Dallas falls to 2-1-3 on the season, ending the franchise’s third-longest point streak to start a season.
But while the Stars were unable to build on their outstanding performance Wednesday, they weren’t awful. Their offense was simply shut down by Boston’s stifling defense and were victimized by a couple of bad breaks for goals against.
“It was disappointing for sure. It’s tough to beat a team as good as Boston is if you don’t have everybody going,” coach Marc Crawford said. “We didn’t have everybody going tonight for whatever reason. During the course of the season, you’re going to have some highs and you’re going to have some lows. You’re going to have some games where everything goes right and you’re going to have some games where not much does. Our game tonight fell in the latter category.”
“After a big win against Nashville, you want to keep the ball rolling and we didn’t do it,” defenseman Stephane Robidas said. “They were just a better team than us today. I don’t think they did anything special, all they did is work hard. They used their speed, they used their size,
they bring a lot of pucks to the net and they went for rebounds.”
Goaltender Marty Turco, coming off his best game of the season, a 29-save shutout Wednesday, was solid again in goal, stopping 26 shots in the loss.
“Last game, things just went our way early,” Turco said. “We really thought there was much to get excited about and tonight we ran into a machine in Boston. They play a great system that rose to the occasion. We got down early and just couldn’t find a way to get some energy back in us.”
Dallas opened the game quickly, going on the power play just 18 seconds into the contest and generating their first scoring chance about 15 seconds after that, but Thomas, the NHL’s reigning Vezina Trophy winner as the league’s best goalie, denied multiple Brenden Morrow shots from point-blank range at the right post.
Turco made a big save 7:20 into the opening period when he turned aside David Krejci’s nifty deflection in front off Andrew Ference’s shot from the point.
The Bruins got on the scoreboard first when Savard notched his first of the night at 13:32 on a quirky bounce. With Mike Ribeiro sitting in the box for an ill-advised high-sticking penalty, Boston needed just 29 seconds to cash in as Savard curled out from behind the net into the lower right face-off circle and fired the puck from a sharp angle. It likely would have been a routine save, but the puck deflected off Robidas’ stick and slid between Turco’s pads.
“A bad penalty,” Ribeiro said. “They scored their first goal, they got momentum out of it. I just reacted, it’s not a penalty you should take after the whistle, and it’s not like our PK is first in the league.”
That was the only power play Boston would get, so they went 1-for-1 with the power play, leaving Dallas just 13-for-21 on the penalty kill this season, among the worst in the NHL.
Turco came up with a big save two and a half minutes later to keep Dallas within one, stopping Mark Recchi’s tricky wrist shot from the left face-off circle.
Heading into the second period down 1-0, the Stars trailed 14-7 in shots on goal.
Things would get worse for Dallas as another bad break led to another Boston goal. The sequence started when Recchi’s wrist shot from the high slot deflected up into defenseman Nicklas Grossman’s face, sending the NHL’s plus/minus leader sprawling to the ice in pain. Even though the Stars controlled the puck, the officials blew the whistle, noting the blood dripping from his face. Grossman eventually got up under his own power and went straight to the dressing room for repairs. He missed the rest of the second period but after receiving approximately 11 stitches, Grossman returned for the start of the third.
“He got hit in the face and that’s something you never like to see, but he played the third period and I thought he actually played well,” Crawford said. “He’s a warrior, he’ll be fine.”
“It’s tough luck, the puck got deflected in front,” added Robidas, who has taken his share of pucks in the face over the years. “You don’t like to see that happen, especially with it so close to the eye, so I was kind of afraid for a little bit and he was bleeding pretty bad, but I was happy to see him back on the ice.”
Play resumed after a brief delay while the Ice Girls scooped up some of the bloody ice left behind. The ensuing face-off was deep inside the Dallas zone since that is where the puck was when the whistle blew and Bergeron won it over Toby Petersen. Boston worked it back to Mark Stuart at the left point, and Bergeron ended up in front and managed to deflect Stuart’s wrist shot past the screened Turco at 3:35.
Boston made it a three-goal lead when Savard scored his second of the game and fourth of the season at 7:59. Savard wound up for a one-timer in the right circle, but off his stick came a slightly off-speed slapper that nicked Robidas’ stick and appeared to fool Turco, slipping past his glove to make it 3-0.
The Stars pushed back after that, applying sustained pressure in the Bruins’ zone for several minutes at the midway point of the period, but had a difficult time getting their shots to the net, as the Boston defense did a great job blocking shots and getting in passing lanes.
“They collapse pretty well in their defensive zone,” Ribeiro said. “They want you to go from low to high and then they try to make your defense find some lanes, but they cover those lanes pretty good and we had a hard time creating chances offensively. When you don’t create those chances, you tend to cheat, go behind the net more and we created a few turnovers that they came down the other way on odd-man rushes.”
“I thought that tonight we were guilty of going to the easy areas a little bit too much,” Crawford added. “A team like Boston will do that - they’ll spread you out, push you to the outside. They will give you the corner areas in the offensive zone, but let’s face it, the goals are scored in the high-traffic areas in front of the net.”
Turco ended up having to make several more impressive saves through the end of the period, denying Blake Wheeler from the right circle with 6:18 left and making back-to-back sparkling stops on Marco Sturm with about 30 seconds remaining.
Down by three entering the third, Dallas started on a power play with a chance to get back into it, but was unable to generate any prime opportunities. Boston, however, nearly made it a 4-0 game when Shawn Thornton stepped out of the penalty box 1:10 into the period, receiving a pass from Wheeler and heading in on a breakaway. Turco made a nice pad stop on Thornton’s wrist shot aiming for the five-hole.
Crawford shuffled the forward lines up a bit after that and it seemed to spark some more inspired play in the offensive zone for the Stars.
“It was probably to get a little more energy in our group,” Crawford said of changing up the line combos. “The other night we had everybody going up front, we didn’t have to change anything - every line, every guy had a lot of jump and tonight, to be fair, there were probably only a couple of people that looked like they had good legs tonight.”
On a late power play, Dallas buzzed around the Boston net but again, could not break through, with Thomas’ in-close stop on James Neal with 6:57 left his best save of the period. Dallas went 0-for-3 with the man-advantage.
Now the Stars will board a plane tomorrow and head up to Chicago for a date with the Blackhawks Saturday night (7:30 pm start, FSN+) before coming right back to Dallas to take on the Los Angeles Kings Monday night at the American Airlines Center.
After going 0-4-0 against Chicago last season, getting outscored 20-8 in those contests, the Stars are looking to show they can compete with the 2009 Western Conference Finalists.
“The good thing is that we play tomorrow,” Ribeiro said. “We can forget about that with a good game on the road and that’s what we’re going to focus on.”
“A lot of times, you’d like to be able to practice a little bit and reinforce the stuff you got, but we’ll be able to do it maybe with some video clips,” Crawford said of the quick turnaround. “It’s going to be in a building that has lots of energy in Chicago and maybe that’ll be good, we could use that enthusiasm.”
- Several Stars had point streaks end with the whitewashing. Brad Richards’ five-game streak, during which he collected nine points (three goals, six assists) was snapped, while Ribeiro and rookie Jamie Benn had four-game streaks end.
- Defenseman Matt Niskanen led the club in ice time, logging 25:23.
- Robidas delivered a game-high six hits.
- Rookie center Aaron Gagnon made his NHL debut after getting recalled earlier in the day from the AHL Texas Stars. In 9:06 of ice time, he played solidly, going 5-3 in the face-off circle and firing a shot from the slot just wide as the final buzzer sounded.
- After missing all of training camp, pre-season and the first three regular season outings with a hip/groin injury, veteran winger Jere Lehtinen sat out with abdominal soreness. He is listed as day-to-day.
- Center Steve Ott, who was officially placed on Injured Reserve to free up a roster slot for Gagnon, missed his second straight game with an oblique injury. Veteran center Mike Modano also sat out, for the fifth consecutive contest, with a rib injury suffered on opening night.
- Despite the loss, the Stars are now 8-4-3 in their last 15 meetings against the Bruins, including a 6-3-2 mark at home.
Wrist shot -
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