Dallas Stars: Dmitry Kulikov
The Dallas Stars had a couple of rough games to finish their recent four game road trip, and their return home was even rougher. The Stars suffered their most lopsided defeat of the season, falling 6-0 to the Florida Panthers at American Airlines Center.
"This is the most embarrassing game we've had at home in quite some time,” said Stars captain Brenden Morrow.
It was the third straight loss for the Stars, who are now 11-6-0 on the season. They have been outscored 14-3 during the three-game losing streak.
"I just think the honeymoon is over. I think the honeymoon is over. You start off 11-3 and teams are prepared. They are prepared to play you, they watch you probably a little closer,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “I thought Florida did a really good job of pre-scouting us. You can have systems given to you from God above, but if you don't add work to those systems you are not going to win. We got severely outworked."
Tuesday’s dismal showing came on the heels of road losses in Pittsburgh and Detroit over the weekend in which the Stars felt they were outplayed and outworked.
“You look back, it's been nine periods where we've been outworked,” said Morrow. “There have been some periods in those games, five or ten minutes, where we've done some things well, but it's pretty simple - we've just been outworked these last few games."
The loss was just the second at home for the Stars, who are now 6-2-0 at the AAC.
“You get back home from a long trip, you hear all the things about that first one at home (being tough), you think you are prepared and then you throw out a stinker like this,” said Morrow. “It’s embarrassing.”
The Panthers dominated the first period, outshooting the Stars 14-4. It looked as if the Stars might get out of the period in a scoreless tie, but Florida scored a pair of goals 1:24 late in the period. After Adam Pardy got knocked down at the Dallas blue line, Florida defenseman Dmitry Kulikov scored on odd-man situation from the left circle with 3:16 left in the period. Jason Garrison made it 2-0 when he scored off a blast from the blue line with 1:52 left in the first.
“We weren’t super happy with our last game at home and we wanted to come out and jump on them early,” said Florida center Stephen Weiss, who had one goal, two assists and a plus-six rating on the night. “We know they were coming home off a road trip. I don’t think they had their best game or best legs tonight and we were able to take advantage of that. It was a good night for us.”
It took the Stars 10:31 to get their first shot in the second period, and then Florida scored two goals late in the period to extend the lead to 4-0. Tomas Fleischmann scored off the rush, slipping by Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas and roofing a shot over Kari Lehtonen with 4:58 left in the period. Then with 7.8 seconds left, Weiss finished off a slick tic-tac-toe passing pas involving Kris Versteeg and Fleischmann.
Florida extended the lead to 5-0 midway through the third. Just after the Panthers killed off a Dallas power play, Versteeg scored on a two-on-one.
Marco Sturm set up Evgeni Dadonov on a two-on-one and the puck went by Lehtonen off Dadanov’s skate. After a review it was determined there was no distinct kicking motion and it was ruled a good goal and the Panthers were up 6-0, which is how the game ended.
The Stars put some pressure on in the third, but couldn’t crack Scott Clemmensen, who was making his first start of the season and stopped 25 shots for the shutout.
“I think we catch a team coming off the road for one. I think that is a legitimate thing. When teams come off the road, there’s something that makes it hard to come out,” said Florida coach Kevin Dineen. “I don’t think there was a whole lot of oomph by their fan base, which this team definitely deserves with the season that they’re having. And I think we smelled some opportunity.”
Notes: Burish, Barch leave game with injuries
*Forward Adam Burish left Tuesday’s game after being hit in the hand with a puck. The Stars didn’t have an update on him following the game, but one should come Wednesday.
*Forward Krys Barch left the game after twisting his ankle. There should be an update on his status Wednesday as well.
*F Tom Wandell and D Philip Larsen were healthy scratches.
*D Alex Goligoski (thumb) and F Steve Ott (hip) are both on injured reserve.
*Tuesday’s attendance was 10,125.
Q: Give us a quick scouting report on the Panthers. They are near the bottom of the standings. Why are they struggling?
A: The problems associated with their slow start appear to be coming from several different areas: While adequate during a few games, the goaltending has been subpar. The presumed "stars" of the club (Steven Weiss, Nathan Horton, and David Booth - now out with a concussion) have not produced even close to their potential. And has the group tuned out coach Peter DeBoer, or have his strategies simply been ineffective?
Q: Steven Reinprecht appears to have started the season well, leading the team in goals and points. What makes him such a good player?
A: After a mere 10 games in a Panthers uniform, we're all still getting to know him. He was brought in as a second-line center; perhaps he's out to prove otherwise. In any case, he's been the most solid and adaptable player on the roster. A few more like him and fortunes could change quickly.
Q: Talk about the Panthers' lines. What can Stars fans expect to see from the top line? Which line has played the best lately?
A: Since last weekend -- when LW Booth and RW Radek Dvorak suffered injuries -- the lines have been experimental. In the one game since last Saturday in Philadelphia, Coach Pete has played mix-and-match, completely out of necessity (though one could argue few combinations were working effectively anyway prior to that). C Dominic Moore -- also battered with a broken nose in that infamous Flyers match one week ago -- will be undergoing nasal surgery, forcing the callup of Jeff Taffe from Rochester. Also up from the Amerks', Kendall McArdle and Michal Repik, who arrived several days ago and had a strong debut against Ottawa. Plug them in wherever you choose. Which line has played the best? That's up for debate, since none have found their groove yet, and with players transitioning in-and-out so frequently, it's not really a valid question at this point. Easy answer: they've all been lousy.
Q: Florida is near the bottom of the league in special teams. What has been the big issue on the penalty kill and power play?
A: Same as with the regular lines: they all appear snake-bitten. The strategies haven't looked all that solid, either, meaning the offense can't keep possession on the PP and the defense cannot force turnovers on the PK. None of the combinations have looked comfortable. Rookie Dmitry Kulikov, however, has been a bright spot, with four assists (all on the power play).
Q: Will the Stars see Tomas Vokoun in nets? Talk about his season so far.
A: As I write this, Florida's goaltender for this evening has not been publicly announced, but with another game on Saturday (St. Louis), Vokoun will certainly see a start at some point over the next 36 hours. He hasn't been "bad", just inconsistent. And when facing the insane number of shots which the Panthers seem organizationally obligated to allow, not many other netminders in this league could handle the weight of it. Craig Anderson was one. Roberto Luongo was another. Scott Clemmensen - the Cats' current "backup" - carried the torch for New Jersey during a healthy portion of last season, albeit facing a far less shot average each night. Bottom line: the lousy start can't be hung entirely at Vokoun's door.
Q: Are there any injuries to report?
A: Where to begin? As noted above, Booth is out at least a week -- though probably more -- with concussion symptoms. Dvorak is nursing a minor ligament tear in his knee. Moore's getting his nose reconstructed, and Nick Tarnasky has been out since the exhibition season with a broken orbital bone suffered in a fight. Oh, and D Bryan Allen is playing staggered games in an effort to ween him back into full-time duty after sitting out primarily all of last year following surgery. Other than that - and D/F Ville Koistinen not knowing what his role will be from night-to-night, everything's awesome.
Q: What Florida players should Stars fans keep an eye on tonight?
A: Reinprecht, for his recent dynamic play demands it. Kulikov is another: and keep in mind he turned 19 yesterday. Michal Repik is gaining a reputation (in the AHL) for highlight-reel moves, and he's just plain fun to watch. Michael Frolik is always dangerous.
Q: Anything else about the Panthers that Stars fans should know?
A: Each year Florida struggles to find that all-important "identity"; the search goes on. In light of recent injuries, this is not too surprising, but the rot began earlier than one week ago. A blown-lead 4-3 home loss to Ottawa on Wednesday evidently has much of the club hopeful about the future for some reason; whether that translates into success this weekend is anyone's guess. Your classic enigma.