The Dallas Stars didn’t finish their five-game road trip the way they were hoping, and turnovers were the big reason why. The New Jersey Devils turned Dallas turnovers into goals Friday night, defeating the Stars 6-3 at Prudential Center.
“The blue lines are huge in hockey and you can’t turn pucks over there,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “I think they had a better feel of how the game needed to be played tonight, they put pucks to our net and capitalized on our turnovers.”
The loss snapped the Stars’ winning streak at three games and sent them home with a 3-2-0 record on the trip, their longest of the season and one that covered 6,500 miles.
“I think we had a pretty good road trip,” said Stars forward Michael Ryder. “But tonight was a little disappointing and we’ve got to learn from it.”
The Stars looked to be in good shape early in the second period. They took a 2-1 lead at the 1:38 mark when Mike Ribeiro made a pretty pass to set up a wide open Brenden Morrow, who put the puck into the open side of the net.
But then the Stars’ turnovers started to end up in the back of their net.
A short time after the Morrow goal the Stars went on a power play with a chance to extend their lead, but Zach Parise stripped the puck from Stephane Robidas and set up Adam Henrique, who scored shorthanded to tie the game at 3:35 of the second period.
“It stings your power play and puts you on your heels,” said Gulutzan. “A shorty gives the other team a lot of life. It was hard work on their part and a good play. Those things can get you.”
New Jersey got a little more life moments later when goalie Johan Hedberg made a slick pad save on Alex Goligoski and Jamie Benn’s rebound attempt was swatted away by Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador.
The Devils took the lead at the 12:12 mark of the second when a Ribeiro pass was deflected out of the New Jersey zone and Ilya Kovalchuk scored off an odd-man rush from the left circle.
After Vernon Fiddler turned the puck over at the New Jersey blue line, the Devils went the other way and Petr Sykora scored off a rebound to give the Devils a 4-2 lead with 1:27 left in the second period.
“It’s something we always talk about. We want to win the blue lines,” said Morrow. “They are like a lot of teams, they are good on transition. When you give Parise, Kovalchuk and [Patrik] Elias time and space with those turnovers they are going to make you pay. We didn’t learn from our mistakes early and they just kept adding up. It was too much to overcome.”
Stars goaltender Richard Bachman, who had won his first three NHL starts, stopped 25 of 31 shots Friday and suffered his first NHL defeat.
Parise had four points (one goal and three assists) and Hedberg made 33 saves for the Devils, who won their third straight game.
*Stars defenseman Philip Larsen left the game in the first period and did not return. Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said he had a charley horse and could miss a couple days.
*The Stars fell to 0-6-0 in the second end of back-to-back games this season.
*The Stars were 2-2 on the penalty kill in Friday’s and are 34-36 (94.4%) on the PK over the last 12 games.
*The Stars were 0-4 on the power play Friday.
*The Devils retired Scott Niedermayer’s jersey prior to the game.