DALLAS -- Dallas Stars coach Lindy Ruff walked off the team’s charter near Dallas Love Field on Saturday and didn’t sound like a coach searching for any kind of new strategy to help his team win what is now a crucial Game 3 at American Airlines Center in Dallas on Monday night.
“It doesn’t feel like an 0-2 series,” Ruff said, before heading home to unpack. “We definitely haven’t been dominated. In fact, the last game we dominated, we just didn’t win. We’ve got to clean up some of our mistakes and take advantage of some of those key opportunities.”
It may not feel like it, but the reality is the Stars lost both games on the road to start this series to the opportunistic Anaheim Ducks. They looked nervous in the first period of Game 1 and it showed as the Ducks jumped out to a 4-0 lead and then held on to win by a goal. In Game 2, turnovers and special teams were the difference.
What’s clear after two games is that most big mistakes made in the defensive zone against Anaheim turn into great scoring opportunities. And the Ducks have a penchant for scoring on those chances.
Two big turnovers turned into two key goals as Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry converted. It didn’t help that the Stars’ power play seemed to lose steam after scoring the first goal of the game. Handed a man-advantage with a 2-1 deficit, the Stars lost the puck and then couldn’t recover in their own zone. Sergei Gonchar didn’t get a slashing call after his stick was broken by Andrew Cogliano. Despite that, the Stars still had five skaters in the zone to the Ducks’ two, yet Getzlaf got the puck and made a nice pass to Cogliano for what became the winning goal midway through the final period.
“They’ve taken advantage of some of our key mistakes,” Ruff said. “There’s going to be mistakes in the game. You’re not going to clean up up every one. We’d like to keep them to a minimum, though.”
But even keeping them to a minimum may not be enough against the Ducks, who don’t need much of an opening on the ice to make things happen.
“We had the majority of the play and majority of the chances,” Ruff said. “They’ve had the best shooting percentage in the league and I see why because they don’t need a lot of chances.”
Nope. So limiting those chances even more in Game 3 is the Stars’ goal. For the Ducks, creating more of those chances could help them win on the road, which would give them firm control of the series.
“We played one and a half pretty good games,” Stars captain Jamie Benn said. “We’ve just got to find a way to limit our turnovers, limit our mistakes and take advantage of theirs.”