The Dallas Stars did a lot of good things Tuesday night against the New Jersey Devils at American Airlines Center. But they couldn’t score and the Devils found a way to get one goal and it added up to a 1-0 loss for the Stars, their fifth straight and ninth in the last ten games.
Despite the disappointing result – which left them in 11th place in the very tight Western Conference standings – the Stars were happy with the effort.
“We did so many things we wanted to do,” said Stars coach Marc Crawford. “We didn’t give them any outnumbered chances. We were good on the forecheck, we created loose pucks, we had goal mouth opportunities with net drive. We just couldn’t put the puck in the net.”
It was a tightly played game with very few scoring chances on either side. Both teams had four power play chances in the game and New Jersey scored on its final one. Ilya Kovalchuk’s stick broke as he launched a one-timer from the left point and as the puck fluttered towards the net it was tipped past Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen by Devils forward Nick Palmieri with 5:37 remaining in the game.
“We played well. We did a lot of what we wanted to do tonight, “said Stars forward Jamie Langenbrunner. “We’ve got to bury opportunities and they got a pretty lucky bounce there.”
The Stars are now 1-8-1 since the All-Stars break and 2-10-1 in their last 13 games. They lost ground to San Jose, Phoenix and Minnesota in the playoff race on Tuesday and Columbus pulled up right behind them. Still, the Stars see Tuesday’s game as a step forward.
“We did a lot of good things, but we came up short. We really didn’t get the break that we needed but we are headed in the right direction and that’s the positive sign,” said defenseman Stephane Robidas. “We got Jamie Benn back and that made a big difference tonight. We’ve got other bodies coming back too soon and we’ve got to just keep plugging away.”
Said Crawford: “If we keep playing with that kind of intensity and that kind of commitment things will change for us.”
Goligoski makes debut
Defenseman Alex Goligoski, acquired Monday from Pittsburgh for James Neal and Matt Niskanen, made his Dallas debut Tuesday night. He had one shot on goal and four penalty minutes. He was in the penalty box for high sticking when New Jersey scored the game’s only goal on the power play.
Goligoski was second among the Stars in total ice time with 23:34 and played 5:06 of power play time.
“I felt pretty comfortable out there,” Goligoski said. “Couldn’t put one in there on the power play. That would have been nice and obviously they got one on theirs. Tough loss, but all the guys have been great.”
Goligoski was expected to get into Dallas Monday night, but due to travel issues he didn’t arrive until Tuesday afternoon. That meant he didn’t even skate with the Stars prior to the game and had little time to settle in.
Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas, who was paired with Goligoski during the game, liked what he saw from his new teammate.
“It was pretty good. He’s a good player. He moves the puck really well,” said Robidas. “For a guy that flew in this morning I think he played really well. He’s just going to get better and used to our system and to the players. I think he played really, really well for his first game.”
Stars coach Marc Crawford offered this assessment.
"I can see where he's really going to help, anybody that skates as well as he does,” Crawford said. ``He's an effortless skater, and it looks like he doesn't get tired, so we'll be able to ramp up minutes for him and give him lots of opportunity. We're still missing Nick Grossman right now. Nick Grossman's a big part of our defensive core, so with that in mind, I'm not ultimately sure where he'll shake out, whether he'll continue to play with Robidas, which looked really good tonight and give us a solid player that plays big, big minutes or whether or not we play him with one of our other defensemen. He’s got the ability to play both the right side and the left side. … Lots of good things from him and we're pretty pleased with what we saw tonight."
Benn impressive in his return
Jamie Benn was back in the lineup after missing ten games with a shoulder injury, and he drew praise from Stars coach Marc Crawford.
“For a guy that missed a month of play to come in and arguably be your best player, that speaks volumes of Jamie,” said Crawford. “His speed is just so apparent. He was authoritative all night long.”