On an afternoon when the Dallas Stars again needed to find a way to win, they came up short. And this loss really hurt because it came in regulation, meaning they got no points in the standings. The 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center extended the Stars’ winless streak to six games (0-3-3) and left them five points out of a playoff spot with just five games remaining.
“It stings,” said Stars captain Brenden Morrow. “We’ve still got five games. We’re probably going to need some help from some teams, but before we worry about that we’ve got to worry about our games. We’ve got a big one tomorrow against a hot team (Anaheim). We’ve got our work cut out for us.”
“We’ve probably got to win out to have a chance,” said Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski. “We’ve got five games and need to take them one at a time. We really haven’t been getting the bounces we’ve needed.”
The puck didn’t bounce the Stars’ way on Saturday. Both Los Angeles goals went in off Dallas defenders.
The first goal, which gave Los Angeles a 1-0 lead in the first period, was a point shot by Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell that deflected off Kings forward Wayne Simmonds, got behind Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen and then went over the goal line off the stick of Dallas defenseman Mark Fistric as he tried to clear the puck.
With the game tied 1-1 with just over seven minutes left in the game, a shot from the right circle by Kings defenseman Matt Greene bounced in the net off the skate of Goligoski, who was still trying to recover after getting hit in the face by the stick of Kings forward Kyle Clifford. That was the game-winner for the Kings, who got a late empty net goal from Dustin Brown to seal the win.
“We put both goals in our net tonight. That puck luck, or whatever you want to call it, has not been going our way,” said Stars coach Marc Crawford. “All you can do is keep persevering. If we continue to work hard and continue to do those things, hopefully it will change.”
The Stars fell to 1-5-3 in their last nine games. In seven of the eight games they have failed to win, the games have been close. Four were decided by one goal the other three, including Saturday’s were one-goal games, until the opponent extended the lead with a late empty net goal.
“It’s just finding ways to win and we’ve found ways to lose,” said Stars center Brad Richards, who scored Dallas’ lone goal in the game. “It’s not from a lack of care or heart in here. Sometimes it wears on you to lose a lot of one-goal games in a row, shootouts. We still come out and play these teams tough. … We have to find a way to win. They throw two pucks on and they go off people and we throw pucks on net and it’s not happening right now. You can’t look at that. That’s life sometimes, that’s any sport.”
The Stars have one game left on this road trip, playing Sunday at Anaheim. Then they have two at home (Columbus, Colorado) and then finish up with two on the road (Colorado, Minnesota).
“We started off the season with five wins in six games and we have to finish off the season with five wins,” said Crawford. “We’re still alive here, we’re still kicking. You just have to keep believing that your luck is going to change.”
Power play free game
Saturday’s game was on where there were no power plays for either side. According to the Stars PR staff that’s the first time that’s happened in an NHL game since April 2, 2010 in a game between New Jersey and Chicago.
Two calls that could have gone the Stars’ way that didn’t were defenseman Mark Fistric getting caught with a high stick and defenseman Alex Goligoski getting hit with a high stick just before Matt Greene scored the game-winning goal for the Kings.
Stars coach Marc Crawford passed on discussing the officiating in the game.
“That’s not for me,” Crawford said. “I can’t make a rant today, can’t afford it.”
Stars captain Brenden Morrow was willing to talk about it.
“It was old time hockey out there,” Morrow said. “We kind of sensed that early in the game. They let a lot of things go on both sides. We got away with some stuff early, too. Taking away a scoring chance and giving scoring opportunities are tough when they’re not called. They’re gearing up for the playoffs. We didn’t get any memos, but I guess we’re seeing what the playoffs are going to be called like.”
The Kings players were upset in the final seconds with a Mike Ribeiro hit on Michal Handzus as the Stars were trying to score the tying goal with goaltender Kari Lehtonen out of the net. Kings coach Terry Murray had no problem with Ribeiro’s hit.
“I think it’s a hockey play,” Murray said. “There’s such intensity at that time. The goalie is out. Everybody wants to score the goal and we want to defend, so it’s just a lot of compete, and you love that kind of an attitude.”
Stars defenseman Karlis Skrastins, who had missed the last four games after getting cut on his thigh by a skate, was back in the lineup Saturday. He played 13:11 in the game.