DALLAS – Shootouts continue to haunt the Dallas Stars this season.
After rallying from a three-goal first period deficit, the Stars once again fell victim in the shootout as the Florida Panthers escaped with a 6-5 victory Friday night at the American Airlines Center.
In coach Marc Crawford’s 1000th career game, the Stars demonstrated impressive resiliency in climbing out of a deep hole to gain a point in the standings, but were still disappointed they could not finish off the comeback.
“I thought coming back from a 3-0 deficit shows a lot of character and a lot of perseverance on our side,” Crawford said. “At the same time, we don’t want to give up those same kind of high-quality chances in the slot. Those are the result of making sure you get back and really do a decent job defending in the defensive zone.”
On the night before Halloween, with many fans dressed up in costumes, things started out pretty scary as Dallas allowed Florida’s Steven Reinprecht to score a first period hat trick. The Panthers’ Rostislav Olesz scored the only goal in the shootout, and Florida goaltender Scott Clemmensen made a pad save on Brad Richards to win it.
The loss left the Stars winless in four shootouts this season, having only scored one goal in shootouts on 13 attempts. Only once in six games that progressed past regulation have the Stars come out with the extra point, and that was their 4-3 overtime win over Toronto on Wednesday.
Still, Dallas is now 6-2-5 on the season and 3-0-2 in their last five.
Like that game against the last-place Maple Leafs Wednesday night, this was another ‘trap’ game, as the Panthers entered the day second-last in the NHL with a 2-7-1 record, but came out with a strong effort.
“That’s two games now that it’s happened at home,” defenseman Stephane Robidas said. “We got lucky and got a point again tonight. We got lucky and got two points the other night. We’ve got to figure it out and try to get a much better start and a stronger effort.”
With Marty Turco in solitary confinement experiencing flu-like symptoms, Alex Auld got the call in net and perhaps wished he’d stayed home in bed himself. After surrendering four goals on 16 shots through two periods, Auld stabilized a bit and stopped 12 of 13 shots in the third period and overtime.
“We have to tighten up, obviously,” Richards said. “We can’t be playing those type of games. It’s tough when you have to try to score five goals. We did that tonight, but that’s not going to happen every night. We’ve got to tighten up, help Auld out.”
Trailing 3-2 entering the second period, the Stars fell behind by two again 2:38 in when Jordon Leopold scored his first goal of the season. Just seconds after a hooking penalty to Brunnstrom expired, Reinprecht carried the puck into the Dallas zone along the right sideboards and slid a cross-ice pass to a charging Leopold, who drilled it past Auld to make it 4-2.
The Stars responded less than a minute later with Ribeiro’s fifth of the year to make it a one-goal game again. Rookie Jamie Benn made the play, carrying into the Florida zone on a 2-on-1 and freezing Clemmensen by faking a shot before sliding a slick pass across to Ribeiro for the one-timer.
Dallas then made it all the way back, getting the equalizer at 11:17 of the second on a spectacular individual effort by Neal. After receiving a long pass from Matt Niskanen, Neal burst into the Florida zone and into the right circle before cutting across the slot to the left side and, with Clemmensen already going down, Neal fired a wrist shot into the open side of the net for his team-leading eighth goal of the season.
The Stars had a golden opportunity to take the lead with a late power play, but even though they peppered Clemmensen with shots and buzzed the Florida zone the entire advantage, they were unable to pull ahead.
Tied 4-4 entering the final period, Dallas fell behind again just 1:42 into the third when Olesz poked the puck past defenseman Karlis Skrastins at center ice and raced in on a semi-breakaway before lifting a point-blank backhander up and over Auld’s shoulder.
Once again, the Stars responded quickly, needing just 1:11 to tie it 5-5 on their second goal of the night immediately following an offensive zone face-off. This time, Wandell won it and Brunnstrom pounced on the loose puck, beating a surprised Clemmensen between the pads for his first goal of the season at 2:53.
Dallas nearly grabbed their first lead of the night 33 seconds later when Brunnstrom fed a pass out from behind the net to Wandell in front, but Wandell’s quick wrist shot clanked off the near-side post.
The Panthers just missed going ahead with 5:45 left in regulation when Stephen Weiss jumped on a rebound in front and backhanded a shot just wide of the upper left corner, then retrieved the puck off the end boards and tried to stuff a short-side wrister that Auld denied.
Auld also made a nice stop on Keith Ballard’s deflection in front with 3:50 to go, with a nice assist from Trevor Daley, who stopped the puck on the goal line after it trickled through and shoved it back under Auld.
“I thought in the third period again we came back, which was real positive as well when we came back from down 5-4,” Crawford said. “I didn’t think we played particularly well the last ten minutes of the game. I thought we let them come at us rather than be the team that initiated the forecheck and initiated the play.”
In overtime, Auld denied Ballard again, snagging his long slap shot with the glove. About 20 seconds after that, with Dallas on the rush into Florida territory, Loui Eriksson nearly ended it when his one-timer from the right circle, after receiving a nice cross-ice pass from Daley, squeezed through Clemmensen and then off the post, setting the stage for the shootout.
While the Stars had the territorial advantage over the first 10 minutes of the opening period, Florida got on the scoreboard first on Reinprecht’s first of the night at 10:38. Seconds after Clemmensen made a sparkling save on Morrow’s one-timer from the slot, the Panthers sped the other way on the counter-attack. Auld stopped Ballard’s backhander from the right face-off circle and the rebound that pinballed off Dallas defenseman Jeff Woywitka’s skate, but Reinprecht got to the second rebound and chipped it over Auld’s shoulder.
The Stars nearly tied it on a fluky play with seven minutes left in the period, as Benn’s dump-in from the neutral zone took a crazy bounce off the glass. As Clemmensen went behind the Florida net to retrieve it, the puck rolled right through the crease and just wide of the far post.
Florida then took control of the contest with two goals in a span of just 29 seconds to go up 3-0. First, Dennis Seidenberg ripped a slap shot from the right point that Auld stopped, but Reinprecht was right on top of him and quickly banged home the loose rebound at 15:20.
“I thought in front of our net, all three goals that were allowed, there were Florida Panthers that didn’t get contested the way they needed to get contested,” Crawford said. “You’ve either got to knock people on their butts or you’ve got to make sure you tie up sticks. Those are the options you’ve got as defenders back there. We have to make sure we’re better in that regard.”
Then Nathan Horton, who earned assists on each of Reinprecht’s goals, fired a seemingly innocent long wrist shot on goal that Auld stopped through a screen, but once again, he left a rebound and Reinprecht popped it past him for the hat trick.
Dallas responded positively, though, by getting two back before the end of the period. Sutherby notched his third goal of the year with 2:09 left as he drilled a one-timer from the slot past Clemmensen after receiving a nice pass from behind the net from Wandell.
“Wandy and Brunner were controlling the play and I was just trying to find a spot,” Sutherby said of the play. “Wandy made a great pass and it found a way in the net.”
The Stars then pulled to within 3-2 with just 17.2 seconds remaining in the first on a power play. Immediately after Ribeiro won a face-off deep in the Florida zone, Robidas blasted a one-timer from the top of the left circle for his third goal of the season.
“Even though we played pretty bad in the first, it was a 3-2 game and we were still in it,” Robidas said. “If you play with fire, you’re going to get burned. There was a big two points out there for us and we didn’t grab it.”
The Stars jump right on the plane and head to Nashville for a matchup with the Predators Saturday night (7 pm, my27) for their third meeting of the season. The Stars have not yet lost in regulation on the road this year, sporting a 4-0-3 mark away from the friendly confines of American Airlines Center.
“We’re going into another team’s building, so we’ve got to play a really simple game and try to do the right things defensively,” Richards said.
-- Brunnstrom had registered one assist in the previous five games before posting his first multi-point outing of the season. He now has three points (all assists) in the last three games.
-- Wandell also put up his first multi-point contest this year and also has three points (one goal, two assists) in the last three games.
-- Neal extended his career-high point streak to five games (five goals, three assists) and his career-high goal streak to four games (five goals). He also delivered a game-high six hits.
-- Sutherby’s goal was his second in the last three games after he had registered just one in his first nine outings.
-- Robidas had gone five games without a goal before connecting in the second period, although he had two assists in that span. He also led the team in ice time with 26:48, while tying Eriksson for the team lead in shots on goal, with five.
-- With his assist on Robidas’ goal, Richards extended his scoring streak to four games, during which he’s compiled seven points (two goals, five assists).
-- Niskanen’s assist on Neal’s goal gives him three helpers in the last two contests.
-- Steve Ott served the second game of his two-game suspension, so he should be back in the lineup against Nashville.
-- Crawford’s record through 1000 games is 476-363-161 to tie the late Roger Neilson for 14th on the NHL’s all-time list for games coached. He should pass four more men above him during the course of the season.
In a nice ceremony before the opening face-off, General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk presented Crawford with a special Breitling watch, while Morrow and Richards, on behalf of the players, gave Crawford two golf clubs (a driver and a putter), as well as an autographed 3-liter bottle of wine.
“It’s impressive, he’s only the 15th coach in history to do it,” Nieuwendyk said of the accomplishment. “He’s had a lot of success as a coach, I think it’s a credit to him. He’s won a Cup and been an Olympic coach. Longevity is something that’s pretty impressive for him. He’s only 13 games into it for us, but any time someone reaches a milestone like that, you’ve got to recognize it.”
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