Dallas began their four-game road trip with a disappointing 4-0 loss on Tuesday night at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs jumped to an early 2-0 lead and never looked back as Dallas struggled all game long.
Stars Drop Third Straight at Crucial Time
While losing three straight is never ideal, doing so at this time with the Stars in the thick of an intense playoff race in the Western Conference, really hurts. With the losses, Dallas has dropped from the top wild card to one point out of the playoff picture entirely. Over the three losses, they have allowed 14 goals and only scored five.
Stars Offense Again Invisible
It felt as though everything was just a bit off on Tuesday. From the level of focus, intensity, and execution that it needed to be. Each time the Stars looked to have a scoring chance, the puck slipped off their stick, missed the net, or was turned over to the Leafs and heading the other way. It felt awfully similar to early in the season when scoring goals was a massive struggle for this team.
“It’s frustrating because we looked slow tonight because we kept turning the puck over,” Rick Bowness said. “We kept turning the puck over and our puck management was terrible all over the ice. Their passes were on the tape and in full stride and we were putting pucks in skates and bouncing pucks over sticks. We looked a lot slower than they did and a lot of it has to do with puck management.”
Denis Gurianov had a tough game and was a perfect representation of the team’s play overall. The young forward has struggled offensively this season, especially on the road. Against Toronto, and after being split up from Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin and replaced by Alexander Radulov, he had countless chances around the net with space and time but failed to create a single scoring chance. His frustration was obvious and seemed to be echoed up and down the bench.
“We’re going to have to look at everything right now. I mean, Seguin, Jamie, and Radulov were minus-2 right away and they should have been minus-3, they gave up a third chance. That was enough.”
The Stars power play certainly didn’t help things either. On three second-period attempts, they created very little, going 0-3 on the night and continuing a very tough run for the unit overall.
Kallgren Stones Dallas in First Career Start
Yet another backup goalie shined against the Dallas Stars. His name is Erik Kallgren. The 25-year-old goaltender made his first career start on Tuesday and answered the bell with a 35 save shutout. It was a huge boost for Toronto, who has seen Petr Mrazek and Jack Campbell struggle lately. For Dallas, it is not the first time that they were stymied by a young goaltender, and they certainly did not make things too difficult on him in this one.
“We wanted to put a lot of pucks on him, get a lot of shots, and try to make his life difficult,” Jamie Benn said. “I don’t know if we did that. We had a lot of shots but we’ve just got to find a way to put a few of those in.”
On the flip side, Jake Oettinger played well despite allowing three goals. Not only did he make 31 saves on 34 shots but the young goalie made three incredible stops including one with the glove on William Nylander that will surely be all over the highlight reels around the NHL.
With the loss, Oettinger moves to 19-9-1 on the season but has gone 4-5-1 on the road. The Stars are hopeful that Braden Holtby will be ready to return from injury soon and should be able to step in and give Oettinger a break, something he has not had much of since January.
The Stars continue on their road trip with three games in four nights to finish out the week. They travel to Montreal on Thursday and play back-to-back matinee games this weekend on Long Island Saturday and in Washington Sunday.
He Said It
“It doesn’t matter if it’s the second line, third line, fourth line, it doesn’t matter.” Bowness said. If we are not going to make plays and we’re going to turn the puck over and we’re not physical, the game comes down to that.”
Sam’s Three Stars
- Third Star: John Tavares, TOR (1 goal, 1 assist)
- Second Star: Mitch Marner, TOR (2 assists, 3 shots, 19:13 TOI)
- First Star: Erik Kallgren, TOR (35 save shutout in first NHL start)
Sam Nestler is a credentialed Dallas Stars contributor for the ‘The Hockey Writers’. Growing up in New Jersey, Sam has been playing hockey since he was 7 years old. Developing a love for writing in college, Sam uses his hockey knowledge to create analyses and articles on every aspect of the game. Sam also hosts his own podcast on Spotify, the “Slapshot Sammy’ podcast, breaking down action across the Stars, the NHL, and college hockey. Check out the podcast here, and give his latest article a read!