ANAHEIM - This one just might come back to haunt them later on.
Despite carrying a 3-1 lead into the third period, the Dallas Stars surrendered the tying goal with 1:03 remaining in regulation and then watched Lubomir Visnovsky complete a hat trick by scoring a power play goal with just 3.8 seconds left in overtime, as the Anaheim Ducks downed the Stars 4-3 Friday night at the Honda Center.
The heart-breaking loss snapped a three-game Dallas winning streak and although they did gain a point in the standings for making it to OT, they missed a chance to climb into sixth place in the super-tight Western Conference standings, and also allowed the Ducks to tie them at 75 points. The two clubs, tied with Nashville in spots 8-10 in the West, are two points back of fifth-place Calgary and one up on 11th-place Minnesota.
It was the second straight contest the Stars squandered a two-goal third period lead by giving up the tying goal with the opponent’s goalie pulled, but Tuesday night in Phoenix, they were able to salvage a dramatic victory on Jamie Benn’s power play goal with five seconds left. Obviously, this one feels much worse, especially for a club that had reversed a 1-8-1 slide with three straight wins.
“It’s always tough to lose a game like that - we’re up 3-1 going into the third period and they tied it up at the end,” said winger Loui Eriksson, whose power play goal late in the second period gave Dallas the two-goal lead. “It’s always a bad feeling when you lose, especially when you lose like this. Every point is so big right now, in the conference right now, it’s so tight.”
“We made a couple of mistakes that we just have to correct,” coach Marc Crawford said. “That’s twice now that we’ve gotten scored on with the goaltender pulled and both have been errors on our part, as opposed to good plays by the opposition. I’m not trying to take anything away from the Ducks, obviously they battled hard and got the puck to the net, but that’s definitely something we’re going to have to clear up.”
Dallas had a prime opportunity to win it with 1:31 left in OT when Mike Ribeiro and Trevor Daley sped into the Anaheim zone on a 2-on-1, but Ducks goaltender Dan Ellis made a spectacular, flailing glove save on Daley’s one-timer from the right face-off circle.
The seeds of the game-winner were sown just over a minute later when Tom Wandell was called for hooking at 4:35, as he took down Ryan Getzlaf. On the dangerous 4-on-3 power play that followed, Getzlaf beat Adam Burish on a face-off in the Dallas zone with eight seconds to go, pulling the puck back to Visnovsky at the point, and the Slovakian defenseman boomed a slap shot past a screened Kari Lehtonen with just 3.8 seconds on the clock.
In addition to Eriksson, Burish and Jamie Benn scored goals for Dallas, while Lehtonen, making his 10th start in the last 12 games, was strong in goal, making 25 saves, 11 of them in the first period alone.
While there had been some speculation that leading scorer Brad Richards (concussion-like symptoms) and/or top-pair defenseman Nicklas Grossman (hip pointer) would return following an eight-game absence, in the end, neither did. Each is listed as day-to-day and might possibly return Saturday night in San Jose, but the guys in the lineup still have to continue as if they won’t be available.
And while the one point they got was important, it was hard to see this night as anything other than letting one slip away.
“That’s a big point for us, even though we gave up a point - it’s a big point for us,” Crawford said. “Right now, we’re in the playoffs and we just have to keep moving forward.”
“If you want to look at it in a positive way, we got a point on the road,” Burish added. “You can look at it that way. Out of four points so far on this road trip, we’ve gotten three of them, but when you’re up 3-1, especially this time of year, you’ve got to fight, you’ve got to claw and make sure you don’t give up the lead like that and you make sure you get the two points when you can.”
Probably a bit fortunate to escape the opening period down just 1-0 despite being outshot 12-6, the Stars burst out of the gates in the second, generating their first big scoring chance at 1:52. A nice set-up by Ribeiro found Brenden Morrow alone in front, but Ellis made a nice pad save.
Dallas kept up the pressure, though, and wound up tying the contest on Benn’s 15th of the year at 2:23. On the rush into the Anaheim zone, Benn left a drop pass for Alex Goligoski, who carried into the right face-off circle before feeding the puck into the slot, where Benn re-directed it past a screened Ellis and in.
The Ducks had a good chance at 7:40 when Dan Sexton sped into the Dallas zone on a partial breakaway, winding up for a slap shot from the right circle that Lehtonen turned aside.
The Stars went ahead 2-1 on Burish’s eighth goal of the season at 10:35. After Burish won a face-off in his own zone, the Stars went on the rush the other way, with Jason Williams crossing the blue line with the puck before chipping it ahead to Burish, who fired a quick snap shot just inside the far post.
Later in the period on a power play, Morrow had a golden opportunity to extend the lead to two when a rebound spit out to him in front, but Ellis somehow stopped his wrist shot with 3:04 left.
Another Anaheim penalty was called on that play, though, and while their two-second 5-on-3 advantage expired, the Stars did get another one on the second advantage, as Eriksson’s 22nd goal with 1:23 remaining in the period put Dallas up 3-1. Stephane Robidas boomed a one-timer from the point that Eriksson, stationed in the slot, managed to deflect past Ellis’ glove.
Heading into the final period with a 3-1 lead, the Stars found themselves short-handed when Robidas was whistled for holding at 4:28, and the Ducks capitalized at 5:24 on longtime Dallas nemesis Visnovsky’s second goal of the night. After the Ducks won a battle along the boards, Teemu Selanne fed a cross-ice pass to Visnovsky for a booming one-timer from the top of the right face-off circle that beat Lehtonen over the glove.
The Stars then had a power play chance of their own minutes later, but were unable to cash in.
Things turned a little chippy after Anaheim’s Brad Winchester, a former Star, drilled Jamie Langenbrunner with a high hit at 9:30 and no penalty was called.
“We had some things go against us tonight,” Crawford said. “They missed a couple of calls there, the head hit on Langenbrunner for sure. That was mystifying, because that’s the one that they’re looking for and they also have the opportunity to ask the linesmen. Those are bad breaks.”
Anaheim kept the pressure on as the third period wore on, although the Stars had a great scoring chance on the tail end of a shift that featured the Ducks buzzing around the Dallas zone. Benn made a spectacular rush on the counter-attack with 3:47 left in regulation, powering his way through the Ducks’ defense, bulling his way in on Ellis, but he was unable to complete his backhand-to-forehand move, with the puck sliding just wide.
About 20 seconds after the Ducks pulled Ellis for an extra attacker, they got the equalizer with 1:03 remaining on Selanne’s 21st goal of the season and 400th in an Anaheim sweater. After receiving a pass from the left circle by Getzlaf, Selanne chipped a nifty re-direct from the high slot past Lehtonen’s glove to set the stage for overtime.
The Ducks jumped on top 1-0 on Visnovsky’s first of the game at 9:22 of the opening period. With the teams skating 4-on-4, Visnovsky unleashed a quick snap shot from the high slot, beating a screened Lehtonen over the blocker.
As Anaheim outshot Dallas 8-2 through the first 14 minutes of the period, Lehtonen held the Stars in it, making a nice save on Cam Fowler at 10:22 and on Andreas Lilja at 13:37.
Lehtonen made another big stop, denying Bobby Ryan’s point-blank chance inside the crease with 1:43 left in the period.
“They came out really hard, kind of threw us on our heels, but Kari was great, only being down 1-0 after the first,” Goligoski said.
The Stars continue their four-game tour of the Pacific Division by jetting up the coast and facing division-leading San Jose Saturday night (9:30 pm, TXA-21), so the Stars will have to let this one go quickly and prepare for the Sharks, with another opportunity to move up in the standings.
“The nice thing about our game is that we have a chance to come right back tomorrow night to make up for it, or redeem ourselves or just get it out of your mind,” Burish said. “You’re going to be upset about it, but then part of being a good pro is forgetting about it and moving on to the next one.”
- Eriksson extended his scoring streak to four games, a span in which he’s scored three goals and one assist, including two game-winning goals.
- Burish’s eighth goal of the year marks a career-high for the gritty winger, whose previous best was six in 2008-09.
- Benn now has goals in back-to-back games and three points (two goals, one assist) in the last four outings.
- Robidas snapped an eight-game point drought, and also led the club with three hits.
- Goligoski’s assist on Benn’s goal gives him four points (one goal, three assists) in the last four contests. His 27:13 of ice time topped the squad, just 10 seconds more than Robidas.
- With an assist on Benn’s goal, Morrow now has four assists in his last four games. He also fired a game-high six shots on goal.
- Trevor Daley snapped a five-game point drought with an assist on Burish’s goal.
- Ribeiro extended his point streak to four and he now has six points (two goals, four assists) in the last seven games, a span that followed one assist over the previous seven.
- Forward Brian Sutherby sat out as a healthy scratch for the fourth straight contest.
- The Stars went 1-for-3 on the power play, marking the third straight game they’ve converted on the man-advantage. They are now 3-for-13 in the last three games after going 0-for-12 in previous four.