The Dallas Stars were hoping to make the most of their current three-game homestand, but they are off to a rocky start. They lost their second straight at American Airlines Center this week, falling 4-3 to the Vancouver Canucks at American Airlines Center.
“I thought that our work ethic was strong tonight and we improved certainly some of the things we’ve had for a couple of days in practice but it’s a result-based business and we didn’t get the result,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan.
The loss was the third in the last four games for the Stars, who dropped to 8-8-1 on the season. Over the last four games the Stars have allowed 18 goals (4.5 per game). All those goals (excluding one empty net tally) allowed by Dallas goaltenders other than Kari Lehtonen, who remains out with a groin injury. Not that everything is on the goaltending, but Lehtonen is 7-2-1 this season and Richard Bachman and Christopher Nilstorp are a combined 1-6-0.
On Thursday, Nilstorp got his third start of the season and his first since January 26. He allowed four goals on 22 shots.
“I thought he made some good saves,” said Gulutzan. “I think there was maybe one there that he would have played a little differently. But he gave us a chance and I thought he was OK.”
The Stars’ power play was less than OK in this game. It went 0-5 and is now 0-12 over the last three games.
“All successful power plays are getting the pucks to the point, getting shots to the net,” said Stars captain Brenden Morrow. “We’re just standing around looking for plays instead of shooting pucks at the net and creating things off of rebounds in my opinion.”
The two teams traded goals over the first two periods. Jamie Benn opened the scoring 35 seconds into the game, skating from the blue line to the front of the Vancouver net, gathering up the rebound after his initial shot was blocked and then roofing a shot from a sharp angle. The Canucks answered at the 8:29 mark of the first when Alex Burrows tipped home an Alex Edler shot with Vancouver on the game’s first power play.
The Stars took the lead early in the second when Michael Ryder scored off a nifty backhand shot from the left circle. The Canucks answered less than five minutes later with the two teams playing four-on-four. Dan Hamhuis set Kevin Bieksa, who split the Dallas defense and got off a one-handed backhand shot that beat Nilstorp between the legs.
“It was a bad goal, that second one. Everyone could see that,” said Nilstorp. “But you have to move on and focus on the next shot. You always try to do your best and give your team a chance to win. Today we lost, so it kind of sucks.”
The Canucks scored two quick goals early in the third period to build a 4-2 lead. Jason Garrison scored from the left point at the 2:32 mark and just 1:46 later Henrik Sedin finished off a two-on-one rush to make it a 4-2 game. The Stars made it 4-3 on a Morrow goal with 13:53 remaining, but could never get the equalizer.The took a late penalty, which gave the Canucks the opportunity to run the clock out on the power play.
“We take a penalty in there and shoot ourselves in the foot,” said Benn
The victory ended a three-game winless streak for the Canucks, who improved to 9-3-4 on the season.
“It was huge,” said Canucks center Ryan Kesler. “Especially with the tough losses we’ve had giving up a lead, and against these guys last time.”
Injury update: Lehtonen doing better
Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who missed his second straight game with a groin injury, is still listed as day-to-day. But Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said Lehtonen is showing improvement.
“He was a lot better today, but I don’t have a timeframe with him,” said Gulutzan. “He’s still day-to-day but a lot better than yesterday and that’s what we can hope for.”
Defenseman Trevor Daley, who missed Thursday’s game with a neck injury, is also day-to-day. Gulutzan said Daley is “50-50” for Saturday.
*The Stars have scored three goals or more in eight straight games and nine of their last ten.
*The Stars outshot the Canucks 25-22. The Stars have outshot their opposition in five of the last six games.
*Matt Fraser was a healthy scratch for Dallas.
*Attendance for Thursday’s game was 17,393