It’s becoming a broken record, but penalties plagued the Dallas Stars again in Saturday night’s loss at Phoenix. So did the lack of scoring on the road, as the 2-0 final score indicates.
But it’s hard to get things going offensively when you spend a lot of time killing penalties. The Stars were shorthanded seven times Saturday night. They spent almost 12 minutes, or one-fifth of the game killing penalties.
“It’s the volume of them,” said Stars center Vernon Fiddler. “I think our PK’ers are doing a great job, but our top guys are sitting on the bench and they can’t get things offensively going. Their legs are tired when they get going because they’ve been sitting there so long. It’s gone on last year, it’s gone on the beginning of this year, and it’s something that we have to figure out right away.”
The Stars had just one power play in the game and it was an abbreviated one, lasting 41 seconds. For the season the Stars have had 28 power plays and have been shorthanded 45 times. That’s a minus-17 differential of power plays versus times shorthanded.
“You can’t win when the other top two lines are getting all the power play time,” said Stars defenseman Trevor Daley. “We’ve got to get it out quickly. It’s killing us and we’re losing games because of it.”
Saturday’s loss was the fifth in the last six games (1-4-1) for the Stars, who were outshot 34-17 in the game. They fell to 1-4-0 on the road, where they have scored just four goals in five games and have been shut out twice.
Overall, they are 3-5-1 on the season. Overall, they rank 29th in the league in scoring at 1.78 goals per game, 29th in shots at 24.4 per game and 30th in shots against at 34.1 per game. The penalty problems haven’t helped those rankings.
Goaltending hasn’t been an issue this season and the Stars got a strong effort Saturday from Richard Bachman, who was making his first NHL start of the season. He stopped 32 of 34 shots in the game.
“He gave us a chance to win, gave us a chance to win,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “Our big guys need to step up, too. You can’t win with a goose egg. No matter how you slice it, you can’t win. We needed some guys to step up and bury some pucks and create some offense. We didn’t. This is a team loss.”
The Stars had some good chances in the first period, but Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith made some nice saves, including a couple on Jamie Benn to keep the Stars off the board.
Phoenix got the only goal it would need in the second period, when it outshot the Stars 12-3. Smith came out to the faceoff circle to play the puck, starting a Phoenix rush and Nick Johnson finished it off, beating Bachman with a shot from the slot at 11:57 of the second.
The Coyotes added an insurance goal early in the third by cashing in on their sixth power play of the night. Mikkel Boedker banged home the rebound of a Derek Morris point shot at 2:47 of the final period to make it a 2-0 game.
Another penalty, and this one really hurt as the Coyotes turned into a goal. And it had Gulutzan vowing to turn the problem around.
“We’re going to pay for it now. We paid for it tonight,” said Gulutzan. “We’ve had internal discussions about too many penalties, and we’ll pay for it when we get to practice.”
*Five-on-five shots were 21-17 in favor of Phoenix in the game. Power play shots were 13-0 in favor of Phoenix.
*Jamie Benn and Jaromir Jagr, who played together on the top line, combined for 9 of the Stars’ 17 shots in the game.
*The Stars are 0-3-0 in the second game of back-to-backs this season and 1-14-2 in the second game of back-to-backs over the last two seasons.
*Stars defenseman Jamie Oleksiak, playing in his second NHL game, had a game-high six hits.
Injury/roster notes: Whitney out 4-6 six weeks
*Stars forward Ray Whitney is out 4-6 six weeks with a fracture in his foot. He was placed on injured reserve Saturday.
*The Stars called up forward Reilly Smith from the Texas Stars Saturday. Smith played on the fourth line Saturday night.
*Center Derek Roy missed his fifth straight game with a groin injury. He could play Monday in Colorado.
*Goaltender Cristopher Nilstorp remains day-to-day with a groin injury.
*Jordie Benn, Philip Larsen and Tom Wandell were healthy scratches Saturday.