Cutting down on penalties was a big emphasis for the Dallas Stars this season. So, far, that goal has yet to be met. A series of Dallas penalties in the second period changed momentum in the game Monday night, allowing the Columbus Blue Jackets to rally for a 2-1 victory over the Stars at Nationwide Arena.
The loss extended the Stars’ winless streak to three games (0-2-1) and dropped them to 2-3-1 on the season.
“If you are going to take eight minors in a game, or nine minors in a game you are probably not going to win. That’s what happened today,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “We’ve got to be careful with our sticks, we can’t be reaching in the offensive zone. We’re killing ourselves. You can do whatever you want system-wise and play as hard as you want, but if you are going to take that many penalties this is the result.”
The Stars survived three penalties in the first, but the big turning point came eight minutes into the second period. With the Stars leading 1-0 on a Philip Larsen power play goal, Vernon Fiddler took a hooking minor and high sticking minor on the same play, giving Columbus a 4:00 power play. Just 42 seconds later Tom Wandell was called for closing his hand on the puck during a faceoff. That gave the Blue Jackets a full two minutes of five-on-three time. Goaltender Kari Lehtonen and the Stars penalty killing unit were able to kill it off, but the Blue Jackets kept coming.
“I thought our killers did a fantastic job of killing those penalties off, but then we get away from the game plan,” said Gulutzan. “We start turning pucks over and instead of them losing momentum from the kills, they gain momentum because we give it to them.”
With 2:13 left in the second period, the Stars turned the puck over in the offensive zone, got caught in a line change and Derek Dorsett scored on an odd-man rush to tie the game at 1-1.
Just 2:24 into the third period, Vinny Prospal put the Blue Jackets ahead for good when he beat a screened Lehtonen with a shot from behind the goal line.
The Stars had some chances after that, but weren’t able to get another puck by Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who stopped 24 of 25 shots on the night.
The loss spoiled the debut of Stars forward Jamie Benn, who signed a five-year, $26.25 million contract with the team last week and played his first game of the season. He picked up an assist and won 12 of 22 faceoffs in 20:47 of playing time.
“We need to stay out of the box, it kind of turned momentum around tonight,” said Benn. “That’s probably the biggest thing.”
Through the first six games, the Stars have been shorthanded 29 times and have been on the power play 20 times. That’s a minus-9 when it comes to power plays versus times shorthanded. Not exactly what the Stars were looking for this season after being a minus-59 in that category in 82 games last season.
“We took a lot of penalties last year,” Fiddler said,” and we have to get a hold of it right now.”
*All six of the Stars’ games this season have been decided by one goal.
*C Derek Roy (groin) was placed on injured reserve Monday retroactive to January 24. He’ll miss the Detroit game.
*D Aaron Rome (flu) missed Monday’s game and is not expected to play Tuesday in Detroit.
*Gulutzan said he has not decided on a goaltender for Tuesday’s game in Detroit.