Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dallas Loses Preseason Opener 4-2 to Tampa Bay

I usually don't put much into the preseason opener, but from experts like Mike Heika & Mark Stepenski are saying what's true. The Stars have a lot of work to do from getting out-shot 31-19, looked a bit sloppy and need to-do a lot to come together and field a strong team on the ice this season.

One more big thing was the crowd, very sparsely attended some thought that as little as 3,000 were at the AAC last night. I know it's just the first preseason game, but with the departure of Mike Modano & Marty Turco, plus the uncertainly of Jere Lehtinen's status this season. Combined with not making the playoffs back-to-back and starring at a 3rd straight playoff year and uncertain ownership.

This team has the strong possibility of going downhill very quickly and could easily be the worst year since the Stars moved from Minnesota back in 1993. Unfortunately, I wish fans would look at the strong play of some of the top prospects like Philip Larsen and Aaron Gagnon as they look to make the NHL, but I have a feeling it will henge on how the Ownership situation goes throughout the season.

However, some of the positive notes from last night's game include Larsen & Gagnon scoring, great contribution's from players like Hildenblacht, Wathier & Colton Sceviour who are looking to make an impact and make the team this season as they look to make their NHL Debut's this season after strong careers either in Juniors, the NCAA, the AHL and in Europe.

Here's a look at some links from Mike Heika & Mark Stepenski as they put their thoughts from last night's game against Tampa Bay.

Mike Heika's Game Points

Marc Crawford Quotes

Mark Stepenski Post-Game Thoughts

Stars VS. Lightning Game Photos

Tampa Bay Lightning 4 Dallas Stars 2 (1-0, 1-0, 2-2)

Dallas Stars Game Recap by John Tranchina

From Dallas, Texas: Hockey is Back!

In the first action of the 2010-2011 season, two goals by Adam Hall led the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 4-2 victory over the Dallas Stars on Tuesday Night at the American Airlines Center.

Trailing 2-0 going into the third period, the Stars mounted a valiant comeback effort, as young roster hopefuls Aaron Gagnon and Philip Larsen scored goals, but in the end, the Lightning came out on top.

Following a three day immersion of training camp in PEI, Canada the Stars returned to the Metroplex Monday and quickly started their six game exhibition season with some rust to be worked out.

Still, Coach Marc Crawford was encouraged by some of what he saw in his clubs first effort of the year, which typically has a tendency to be a bit sloopy.

"There were some positive things in the game for us - I liked the way we got after it in the third period," Crawford said. "I liked the way we fore-checked. We got a good work effort tonight from some people. Maybe our execution wasn't a high level, but we got a good working effort. I was semi-pleased with what we were looking to evaluate. Obviously, your execution, you'd want that to be at a higher level."

This contest also featured the first chance to take a look at the battle for the Stars backup goaltender job, with both Andrew Raycroft and Brent Krahn coming up with some pretty good performances.

"It was a saw-off," Crawford said of the competition. "I liked a few things that both of them did and I didn't like a few things both of them. We get a couple of weeks to really see what they can do, but tonight, it was a saw-off."

In his first action in a Dallas Stars Sweater, Raycroft looked strong, stopping 16 of 18 shots in 30:42 of action before Krahn took over for the 2nd half of the contest. Krahn finished the night with 11 saves on 13 shots.

"All in all, I felt good, I moved good, and did some good things," said Raycroft, who signed with the Stars as a free agent on July 1. "It was good to get in there and get going. With pre-season games, you never really know what you're going to get or what to expect. I think we did some good things tonight. Obviously, there's two and a half more weeks to get work done."

"I felt good in there," said Krahn, who helped the AHL Texas Stars advance to the Calder Cup Final last season. "I'd like to get the win, we were down to 2-0 in the 3rd period and came back, it's to bad that I gave up two goals. Guys are working hard and it was fun."

Down two heading into the final period, the Stars got one back 1:19 just in on an outstanding individual effort by Gagnon. Carrying the puck into the Tampa Zone, Gagnon slipped around Lightning defensemen Mathieu Roy with a slick move behind his back in his backhand, before getting goaltender Dan Ellis with a scorching backhander just inside the left post.

"I just kind of picked up at the blue line, and I just tried to fake and go wide and throw it on net and good things happen," said Gagnon, who is making a strong bid to win a spot on the Dallas Roster after leading Texas (AHL) in scoring last year.

Tampa Bay restored their two goal advantage at 3:39 when Adam Hall notched his second of the night. Krahn made a nice skate save on Dana Tyrell's shot from the left circle, but the rebound went right to the charging Hall, who drilled it into the open side of the net.

Dallas pulled within 3-2 at 7:17 on Larsen's goal. After receiving a a pretty cross-ice pass from Thomas Vincour on the right sideboards, Larsen found himself alone in the slot and fired a quick wrist shot over Ellis' Glove.

"I saw we had the puck in our zone and I saw I had a chance to go join the rush," Larsen said of the play. "I got a really nice pass by Tomas Vincour and it opened up the whole thing for me. It's always fun to score a goal and it's always special, the first one, so that was a lot of fun."

"He scored a great goal," Crawford agreed. "He's giving you a glimpse of what he can do and what he can be and it's exactly what we want, how he filled the lane and how he got up on the rush. "He did it two or three other guys in the game as well."

The Lightning put the final nail in with 9:05 left when Mattias Ohlund's slap shot from the left point found it's way through a maze of feet and past Krahn to make it 4-2.

"I didn't see it, I don't know exactly what happened," Krahn said of the goal. "I knew he was shooting the puck, I could see him, but I couldn't see the shot. I don't think I played that one the way I'd like to."

The Stars had one last premium opportunity to get close after Tampa's Steve Downie entered the penalty box with 1:31 remaining. The Stars pulled Krahn for an extra attacker, giving them a 6-on-4 advantage.

While Dallas maintained pressure in the offensive zone the whole time and had a few close calls, such as Gagnon's deflection in front of the net that sailed just wide 48 seconds to go, they were unable to find the back of the net again.

"I think we tried really hard and of course, you got to give them some credit too, they blocked a lot of shots," Larsen said of the late push. "We maybe got to work a little more to get our shots through, especially our D-Men, but I think we battled pretty hard out there. Overall, I think we tried really hard and there were a lot of good things, some bad things and that's pretty normal."

The first pre-season game started off with a bang, with the first fight of the year taking place just 1:30 in, as Brian Sutherby squared off with Tampa's Matt Smaby and cleary had an advantage.

Immediately following the ensuing face-off at center ice, Stars hopeful Francis Wathier dropped the gloves with Hall in second fight of the young season.

Trailing 1-0 entering the second period, the Stars nearly evened it up at 3:17 when Gagnon sped in on a partial breakaway, but Ellis, a former Star, denied his deke attempt.

The Lightning extended their lead to two less then three minutes later, when Ryan Malone carried into the right corner before feeding a backhand pass out front, where Dominic Moore, despite being well covered by Matt Niskanen, managed to re-directed it over Raycroft at 6:31.

Just 21 seconds after that goal, fight number four of the night saw Wathier, who racked up 101 penalty minutes last year for Texas (AHL), dropped the gloves a second time, this one with Tampa's Scott Jackson.

With the Lightning enjoying a 18-8 edge in shots-on-goal, and a 2-0 lead on the scoreboard, Krahn came into replace Raycroft with 9:18 left in the 2nd period.

About two minutes later, Tampa Bay almost went up 3, but Tyrell's wrist shot from the left face off circle off the crossbar.

The Stars will now get back to work in practice at their primary facility at the Dr. Pepper Arena in Frisco until taking on the Colorado Avalanche in their next pre-season contest Friday Night at the AAC. (Game Time is 7:30 PM, Once again, no TV or Radio Coverage).

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