On paper, it was the worst possible scenario for the Dallas Stars: limp into Denver to face the undefeated Avs after a poor showing against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday with news that Kari Lehtonen would miss at least 2 games with a lower body injury. However, like the old cliché, “that’s why you play the game.”
The Stars definitely came to play tonight, and with the exception of some sloppy play in the first period and Sergei Gonchar (for the whole game), the Stars were able to take the Avs to a full 60 minutes, but still fell short by a score of 3-2.
“We played hard tonight,” head coach, Lindy Ruff said after the game. “The penalties we created by skating gave us our best shot. This was probably our best skating game thus far. Biggest mistakes were the first period. Those mistakes can’t be made, they’re unacceptable.”
The game started as if it was going to be one of those nights where Saturday would provide a hangover into Denver as the Avalanche drew the first power play when Brenden Dillon got tied up and ended up pulling down the Avs forward. On the man advantage, Colorado just skated and put the puck where they wanted at will. The Stars were chasing the Avs for the first four minutes of the game.
Despite the first period turnovers that would ultimately sink them, the Stars were able to recover from one turn over when Jamie Benn jumped on a loose puck and slid it over to Tyler Seguin who advanced the puck out of the zone and hit a streaking Rich Peverley at center ice. Peverley split the defenseman and put the puck low, glove side on Semyon Varlamov at the 4:18 mark.
At 11:43, one of Gonchar’s many turnovers would spark the Avs to Matt Duchene’s first goal of the night. Gonchar and Cody Eakin were tied up on top of the crease in front of Dan Ellis and neither player took control of the puck. Gonchar nonchalantly swept the puck toward the low faceoff circle, apparently thinking Eakin would jump on the loose puck and move it forward. Instead, Duchene was there to whip the puck past Ellis.
Dallas would have several good chances to take the lead back, but none better than after killing a Trevor Daley penalty, Daley would take the pass right out of the box at center ice and was all alone but Varlamov would make the pad save to keep the game tied until there were 7 seconds remaining in the first period when Jan Hedja fired the puck from the right point and the puck bounced around and found the space between Ellis’ pads after caroming off Dillon’s skate.
The remaining two periods would be dominated by the Stars, outshooting the Avs by a 35-16 clip, but the result was the two teams trading goals. Cody Eakin would finally get rewarded for being sandwiched all night when he took a feed from Ray Whitney and buried the one-timer with one second remaining on the power play. Less than five minutes later, the Avs were about to go on the power play when Colorado was getting an extra attacker play set up, the Stars were caught on an extremely long shift and Duchene skated to the right circle and wristed a powerful shot that proved to be the game winner.
The Stars return home to face the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night. The Sharks remain undefeated as well as they beat an unbeaten St. Louis team this evening.
Rich Peverley’s goal in the first period gave the Stars the lead for 7:25 before Colorado would tie the score. Prior to tonight’s game, the Avalanche trailed for a total of 3:27.
The Stars continue to heed the call from Coach Ruff to reduce the amounts of shots the goalies are looking at. Tonight, Dan Ellis only faced 26 shots while Semyon Varlamov faced 41.
Tonight was the first loss for the Stars in the young season when scoring first. Only other game they scored first was their victory against Winnipeg.
Cody Eakin’s 2nd period power play goal was the first power play goal allowed by Colorado in their 6-game win streak.