DALLAS - Yes, they earned another point in the standings, but they also lost one they probably should have had.
After taking a 2-1 lead into the third period, the Dallas Stars allowed the New York Rangers to tie it on a power play goal and ended up succumbing 3-2 in a shootout Friday night at the American Airlines Center.
It was the first time this season that the Stars lost a game they led after two periods, falling to 10-0-1 in that scenario.
The defeat also extended the Stars’ winless streak at home to five, (0-3-2), although oddly enough, they still have a six-game road winning streak going. Still, they earned one point in the standings and remain atop the Pacific Division and third in the Western Conference with a 14-5-4 record over their last 23 contests.
Dallas is now 4-4 in shootouts this year and 8-5 overall in games that have gone beyond regulation.
“It was a point we let get away,” Stars coach Marc Crawford said. “That was a game we should have got two, I felt. We played hard. It was a one-goal game, both goalies were pretty solid. They scored a power play goal, we scored a power play goal. But I thought we had opportunities tonight to be a little more disciplined in crucial areas. I’d want to take a few less penalties, obviously, but I thought a couple of key things for us was, we over-extended a few shifts and a couple of times that caught us.”
“It’s tough when you lose full points. We wanted the extra point and we didn’t get it,” said winger Loui Eriksson, who extended his scoring streak to six games with an assist. “It was a pretty tight game today. We had pretty good chances. Both teams had pretty good chances today but it’s always tough when you lose and don’t get the extra point.”
In the shootout, New York rookie Mats Zuccarello scored the only goal, making a couple of nifty moves before firing a wrist shot past Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen’s blocker.
At the other end, Mike Ribeiro, who scored earlier in the contest, had a chance to extend the shootout, but Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist made a glove save on his in-close backhander to clinch the win for New York.
“It would be nice to win, we were right there,” said Lehtonen, who played a strong game overall, making 29 saves and earning the contest’s third star. “It can go either way in a shootout. The last couple I have been in, I have not been happy with how I’ve done, so I need to work on that.”
Illustrating just how fine a line there is between winning and losing, on an earlier attempt, Brad Richards appeared to beat Lundqvist with a wrist shot over the shoulder but it pinged off the crossbar.
“It just touched my blocker,” said Lundqvist, the identical twin brother of former Star Joel Lundqvist, who made 28 saves and three more in the shootout. “As (Richards) stopped a little bit, I felt that side was a little open. I got a little lucky there it hit the crossbar.”
Leading 2-1 entering the final period, the Stars enjoyed an early power play and had several chances to go up by two. Their best opportunity came at 2:25 when Brenden Morrow, stationed in front, re-directed Richards’ wrist shot from the top of the right face-off circle, but Lundqvist made a nice pad save.
At the other end of the ice, Lehtonen came up with a big stop on a New York power play at 6:56 when he turned aside Brandon Dubinsky’s wrist shot off the rush from the left circle.
Later on the same power play, however, the Rangers got the equalizer when Artem Anisimov notched his 10th goal of the year at 8:04. Marc Staal led the rush into the Dallas zone, pulled up along the right sideboards and fed a pass back to the charging Anisimov, who unleashed a wrist shot from the top of the right face-off circle that sailed past Lehtonen’s blocker, clinked off the goalpost and bounced in.
“I knew there was a guy there with the puck, I tried to battle more to see,” said Lehtonen, who never saw the shot. “I kind of felt that he was shooting from that side of the screen. I got a little piece of it but was nowhere near making a good save on it. I played too deep also. That’s the way she goes.”
The Stars pressed in the late minutes, and James Neal had a golden opportunity to score with 3:22 remaining when he retrieved a rebound of Richards’ shot in front, and swatted a point-blank backhander, but Lundqvist made the save, setting the stage for overtime.
Dallas had the best chance in the five-minute extra period when rookie Philip Larsen, who was just recalled from the minors Thursday, found himself alone in the left circle and fired a high wrist shot, but Lundqvist made a sparkling sliding save to send the contest to the shootout.
“I thought he did some real good things in the game,” Crawford said of Larsen’s performance. “He’s very clever and very creative. If he improves his shot, I think he’s going to be a dangerous player. He got a number of wide open looks and if he develops a little more stronger shot, a little more overpowering, then I think that now he becomes a very dangerous power play guy. There’s no doubt he’s got some creativity and some poise. He reads the play well and has the ability to play on the power play. That’s very positive for a 21-year-old kid.”
The Stars had the contest’s first scoring chance at 2:56 of the opening period when Trevor Daley fed a nice cross-crease pass from the right face-off circle to a charging Morrow at the left post, but Lundqvist slid across and made the save.
The American Airlines Center crowd of 14,934 got amped up when Steve Ott dropped the gloves with New York’s Dale Weise at 7:25, landing several big punches and generally winning the fight.
That must have pumped up the Stars’ fourth line, who were out on the next shift, because it took them just 30 seconds to break the scoreless tie when Brian Sutherby notched his second goal of the season. Lundqvist came out of the net to play a puck behind the net and shot it into the right corner, where Brandon Segal got to it and fed Sutherby low in the circle, and Sutherby snapped it over Lundqvist’s shoulder just under the crossbar.
Lehtonen came up with a big save at 11:16 to keep the Rangers off the scoresheet when he brilliantly snagged Matt Gilroy’s wrist shot from the slot with his glove.
The Stars then dodged a bullet with 4:39 remaining in the period, after Lehtonen stopped Brian Boyle’s wrist shot from the slot and then fed the rebound across the crease to a wide open Staal. Staring at an empty net, Staal clanked a shot off the left goalpost.
Dallas generated a few more chances of their own late in the period, but Lundqvist came up with huge saves on Jamie Benn’s one-timer from the high slot with 1:40 to go and then on Ribeiro’s point-blank attempt seconds later.
Taking a 1-0 lead into the second period, the Stars went on an early power play and nearly got another one at 2:13, but Lundqvist made a nice save on Neal’s scorching wrist shot from the top of the right face-off circle.
Later in the same power play, the Stars got caught up ice and Ruslan Fedotenko scored a shorthander at 2:49 to tie it. Skating into the Stars’ zone by himself, Fedotenko fired an innocent-looking wrister from the right sideboards that somehow squeezed between Lehtonen and the near-side post.
“The shorthanded goal, that was a bad goal,” Crawford said. “It was a bad goal all around. Richie made a bad change, Daley made a real poor backcheck on it and it ends up going in the net. You can maybe give Kari a little bit there, but the guy surprised him with the shot, it bounced in and it’s kind of the bounce of the game.”
That goal shifted the momentum towards the Rangers and they poured on the pressure after that, peppering Lehtonen with shots. His best of the barrage was an outstanding pad save through a screen less than a minute later on Derek Stepan’s one-timer from the high slot.
Dallas regained the lead at 10:20 on Ribeiro’s third goal in the last two games and ninth of the season. After Eriksson’s rebound chance skittered wide of the right post, he retrieved the puck behind the net and slipped a pass out the other side to a wide open Ribeiro, who fired a wrist shot past the diving Lundqvist.
“We had a lot of good things in the game, we should probably focus in on the good things,” Crawford said. “But when you’re striving for these points, I guess it’s human nature, especially coaches’ human nature, to pick at the sores that we’ve got in our game and we’ve got to get past that. In the end, it’s a pretty important point, but we had our hearts set and our minds set on getting this thing righted at home. It’s five games now where we haven’t won at home. We have to make sure that we put that equation so much in our favor and we had opportunities to do that tonight and that’s where we need to persevere and make sure that we leave nothing to chance.”
Dallas jets right back out on the road Sunday, heading back to the franchise’s original home in Minnesota to face the Wild (5 pm, FSSW), as they attempt to push their road winning streak to seven, which would be the club’s longest since 2001.
- Ribeiro extended his scoring streak to five games, a span in which he’s totaled six points (three goals, three assists).
- Sutherby’s goal was his first since Oct. 26, although he now has two points (one goal, one assist) in his last four outings.
- With his assist on Ribeiro’s goal, Eriksson now has a six-game scoring streak and has collected 17 points (four goals, 13 assists) over the last 12 games.
- Segal’s assist on Sutherby’s goal snapped an 11-game point drought.
- Newly reacquired forward Jamie Langenbrunner didn’t make it to Dallas in time to join his new teammates on the ice, but he did arrive in the building and received a standing ovation from the American Airlines Center faithful when some old highlights of him in a Stars jersey were shown on the video board during a break in the second period.
- Defensemen Matt Niskanen (hand laceration) and Karlis Skrastins, who were injured during a freak collision during the third period warm-ups Wednesday night in Chicago, each sat out as well. In their place, Mark Fistric, who had been a healthy scratch the previous two contests, and Larsen, who was recalled from AHL Texas Thursday, performed solidly.
- Richards logged a whopping 27:47 of ice time to lead the club. His four shots on goal, which gives him 25 over the last five games, tied Ribeiro for second on the squad behind Neal’s five.
- Dallas dominated in the face-off circle, going 36-21 on draws. Ott won all seven he took, while Adam Burish was 7-2 mark and Tom Wandell was 6-1.
- The Stars were 1-for-4 on the power play, leaving them a stellar 6-for-13 over their last four contests, a span that followed three games where they went 0-for-9.
- The loss leaves the Stars 18-2-1 in games in which they score the first goal and 10-2-1 against teams from the Eastern Conference.