The road woes continued for the Stars as they fell to the eastern conference-leading New Jersey Devils 4-0 and moved to 1-5-3 in their last nine contests away from AAC.
Martin Brodeur, arguably the best goaltender in league history, was the difference-maker tonight, stopping all of Dallas’ 29 shots for his 106th career shutout.
“Brodeur was really good tonight,” Stars coach Marc Crawford said. “He stopped every chance we had and was solid. “
This is not how the Stars wanted to start the second half of their season. After an inconsistent run during the first 41 games, the Stars were in 10th place in the Western Conference, four points out of a playoff spot.
“That's a good team we played tonight and we need to play better,” Brenden Morrow said. “Points are at a premium. We’re only 42 games in, but other teams are
getting points and we need to get ours.”
Alex Auld was good early on in the first, but it wasn’t enough for Dallas. The Stars couldn’t get anything going offensively and gave up too much in the defensive end as they struggled to exit their own zone cleanly.
New Jersey opened the scoring with a Patrick Elias tip on a Brian Rolston shot from the point at 18:02 of the first period. Rolston grabbed the puck after Dallas failed to clear the zone and sent it on net.
“You can't give a team like this any opportunities,” Auld said. “Mistakes end up in the back of your net. On the other end, they have the best goaltender in the world. They capitalized on our mistakes tonight. It's what they do.”
It looked like the Devils were going to add to their lead about a minute later when the puck took an odd bounce, eluded defender Karlis Skrastins and wound up on the stick of Jay Pandolfo. Auld came up big for the Stars though, making the save to keep the deficit at one after one.
Steve Ott was the best player for the Stars; he was all over the ice, creating chances and agitating Devils players. He drew a penalty after saying something to Patrik Elias before a faceoff. Once the puck was dropped, Elias immediately crosschecked Ott in the side of the face and was sent to the box.
On the ensuing power play, Eriksson broke in to the zone with a nice little move but was denied by Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur.
Unfortunately for the Stars, the power play could not solve their scoring problems and Elias responded with his 10th goal of the season. After jumping out of the penalty box, he picked up the puck in the Stars’ zone and notched his second goal of the evening by burying the puck in the top left corner off a wrist shot from the right side.
“We have to have more patience and we did show patience very well at times tonight,” Crawford said. “They are a very good countering team and that is what they are good at. We got off our game in the second and that was disappointing.”
The Stars were unable to shut down the Devil’s top line of Travis Zajac, Zach Parise and former Star Jamie Langenbrunner, who combined for five points (2g, 3a) and 15 shots.
New Jersey added a power play goal with Krystofer Barch in the box for slashing. Zajac beat Auld five-hole with a shot from the top of the left circle after trading passes with Langenbrunner at the point.
The best chances came from Devils Olympian Zach Parise who broke through with his team leading 18th goal, a wrister from the slot at 15:07 of the second. Parise burst in the zone off a pass from Langenbrunner and fired a shot from the slot.
The Stars tried to get on the board but were again denied as Brodeur stacked his pads to stop Mike Ribeiro. With about seven minutes remaining in the game the Devils had a turnover in their own zone, Richards recovered and passed to Eriksson who sent it into Brodeur’s right pad for the save.
The Stars continue their road trip tomorrow against the New York Rangers at 6 pm on FSN.