The Stars went into Florida this weekend with one goal in mind. Show up, compete, and try to leave with at least two of a possible four points against the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning on back-to-back nights. In the end, that goal was not accomplished. After a 7-1 stomping by the Panthers, Dallas left empty-handed once again, finishing with a 3-1 loss to the Lightning at Amalie Arena and a seven-game losing streak away from home.
Stars Had No Compete Against Panthers
On Friday, Dallas was never into the game against the Panthers. Within six minutes, they were trailing 2-0, being outplayed, and showing no signs of competing with one of the best teams in the league. The dynamic top line for Dallas went minus-2 in the first period before being split up for the first time in months.
“I did [split them up] after the first period,” Rick Bowness said. “They were minus-2, they were getting outplayed. I put Jamie Benn in the middle between Pavelski and Robertson. They were dashed two, they could have been dashed three or four and they were just getting outplayed.”
The rest of the game played out the same as the Panthers struck seven times on both Jake Oettinger and Anton Khudobin, while Dallas mustered very little offensively. While the Panthers are the best team in the league at home, the gap between the two teams on Friday was that of a playoff team and a non-playoff team, it was as simple as that.
“There was a lot [when asked what he did not like about the Stars game]. A lot,” Rick Bowness said. “It starts with just not being willing to compete. Starts with that. If you don’t want to work, you don’t want to compete, you get that.”
Stars Leave Tampa Bay With Yet Another Loss
The task only got taller on Saturday, as Dallas looked to rebound from the embarrassing loss with a better performance in Tampa Bay. However, they were playing another hot team, one who they have struggled mightily against over the past few seasons, and were playing on the second night of a back-to-back with multiple players dealing with illness and injuries.
The game began with Dallas flying out of the gates, outshooting the Lightning heavily early, and taking a 1-0 lead on an Esa Lindell shot. They were skating well, putting pressure on Tampa, and playing the type of road game that they put forth in St. Louis last weekend. However, as the period went along and headed into the second, things began to fade.
The Stars were held to two shots across nearly 30 minutes of the game while the Lightning controlled play and flipped the ice, eventually tying the game at one. While the score remained the same midway through the third period, Dallas was clearly working hard to maintain and not pushing to control the game.
“I think they outshot us quite badly,” Esa Lindell said about the second period. “We didn’t get the pucks deep and turnovers fed the game the way they play really well. That cost us longer shifts in the d-zone so we didn’t have the energy to play o-zone. We kinda just chipped it out and changed, and the next line had to play defense again. That was kind of the snowball effect.”
Eventually, they broke down and allowed a breakaway to Ross Colton, who put the puck past Khudobin for the eventual game-winner. The story was all too familiar for Dallas, as they struggled to create offense, were hemmed in their own end, and once again ended the game with just a single goal.
“We are not going to win anything on the road until we get more than one goal,” Rick Bowness said.
Stars Road Record Remains Among NHL Worst
With the two losses on the weekend, the Stars road record drops to 4-12-1 this season. As expected, this puts them near the league’s worst in this category, sitting among the Seattle Kraken, Montreal Canadiens, and Arizona Coyotes, three teams that are well out of a possible playoff spot. Although we just turned the calendars to 2022, it feels that Dallas is in real trouble on the road. They have shown very little signs of improvement, have been consistently inconsistent, and have not won a road game since Nov. 27.
“We have got to get to the point that we are making the plays on the road that we make at home,” Rick Bowness said. “We are very confident with the puck at home. For whatever reason, we’re getting on the road, and we’re not confident with the puck and we’re not making plays.”
With nearly half of their road schedule left to play, the Stars need to figure things out in a hurry. There is no doubt that the situation is unique. Dallas holds one of the best records at home, where they score a ton of goals, defend extremely well, and play a style of hockey that wins games deep into the playoffs. Yet, when they head out on the road, they fade away from all of those things and look timid all over the ice.
To put it into perspective, here are a few alarming stats for the Stars when they are on the road versus at home.
- When the opponent scores first: Home: 3-2-0, Road: 0-7-1
- When outshooting opponent: Home: 6-3-1, Road: 2-4-0
- When being outshot by opponent: Home: 6-0-0, Road: 2-8-1
- One-goal games: Home: 2-0, Road: 1-4
- When leading after two periods: Home: 10-0-1, Road: 1-2-0
- When trailing after two periods: Home: 2-2-0, Road: 0-8-1
- Goal differential in the second period: Home: 22-19, Road: 8-26
- Goal differential in the third period: Home: 21-12, Road: 12-24
“We have some guys who are very comfortable playing at home and very uncomfortable playing on the road,” Rick Bowness said. “It ‘s very obvious.”
All of these stats prove one thing, this is a completely different team on the road than they are on home ice. Right now, it is getting them in trouble and keeping them on the outside looking in on the playoff race in the Western Conference.
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!