For the second straight game the Dallas Stars got off to an early lead, but this time around they couldn’t finish the deal. The Stars lost leads of 2-0 and 3-2 Wednesday night in Denver and ended up falling, 4-3, to the Colorado Avalanche.
“It’s pretty disappointing,” said Stars defenseman Trevor Daley. “We’ve got to find ways to play complete games. When you’ve got a two-goal lead you’ve got to find ways to put teams away.”
Added Stars coach Glen Gulutzan: “I think we played well enough to win and then invented a way to lose.”
Wednesday’s game was the fourth time this season the Stars have had a two-goal lead in a game and gone on to lose. Twice the loss has come in regulation.
“You have to learn it. That’s the only way you can do it. We have a lot of young guys here that have to learn through this,” said Stars forward Jaromir Jagr. “I don’t think we are realizing it’s a playoff game for us every game from now on. I don’t think we play it like a playoff game. We play it like game number four at the start of the season. We cannot do that if we want to make the playoffs. “
The loss was the fourth in the last six games (1-4-1) for the Stars, who fell to 13-13-3 and dropped to three points out of eighth place in the Western Conference.
Special teams didn’t help the Stars on this night. They were 0-6 on the power play and are now 1-20 over the last five games. They also gave up a shorthanded goal.
The Stars got off to a good start in the game, making a strong push early and then getting goals from Jagr and Daley in the first period to take a 2-0 lead.
But the Avalanche pushed back in the second. Mark Olver scored off a rebound off the end boards to cut the lead to 2-1. And then Daley turned over the puck with the Stars on the power play, and Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog scored shorthanded to tie the game at 2-2.
“You’ve got to make a play,” Daley said. “Made a bad play and it ended up in the back of the net.”
The Stars got the lead back late in the third when Ray Whitney circled out from behind the Colorado net on his backhand, skated to the slot and lifted a backhand shot over Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov to put the Stars up 3-2.
Colorado tied the game early in the third when Ryan O’Reilly busted down the left wing and beat Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen with a shot from the left faceoff dot.
Colorado got the game-winner with 3:29 left when a Matt Hunwick shot from the left wing hit Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas in the head and Chuck Kobasew got to the puck and slipped it past Lehtonen.
“When it hits somebody in the head it is just a bad sound,” Lehtonen said. “I lost the puck after that and then I saw it a little too late and they were able to bank it in.”
Colorado snapped a four-game losing streak with the win. It was just the fourth regulation win in the last 21 games for the Avalanche.
“It felt great to get a win,” said Kobasew. “The last ten days haven’t been fun around here. Now that we’ve got a win under our belt hopefully we can get our confidence back.”
The Stars won’t have a lot of time to regroup. They head to Los Angeles, where they’ll take on the Kings Thursday night.
“We’ve got to forget about this one,” said Daley, “move on, go into L.A. and get two points.”
Whitney, Robidas both leave game
Stars forward Ray Whitney and defenseman Stephane Robidas both left the game in the third period. Robidas left with 3:29 left in the period after he was hit in the head by a Matt Hunwick shot on the play that led to Colorado’s game-winning goal. Robidas needed four stiches to close a cut he suffered on the play.
Whitney left after playing two shifts in the third period with an upper body injury and did not return.
“I don’t know yet,” Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said of Whitney’s status. “We’ll need to look at where he is tomorrow.”