Despite being out-shot 44-19 and giving up 4 power play goals in last night's 5-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Kari Lehtonen and a strong offense which included Adam Burish's first goal as a Dallas Star, the Stars were able to keep the team in the game as the Stars were looking to go 5-for-5 to start the regular season. However, former Dallas Star Mike Smith was able to make some saves at critical times and during the 2nd period, the Lightning were able to put the pressure on the Stars by out-shooting them 20-3 in the 2nd period.
Kari Lehtonen was great once again as he is giving the Stars a chance to win every night, but a story by Mike Heika is starting to prove that Lehtonen has been relied on to much in the early season and if he goes down with a major injury, this season could down hill very quickly and go from at least battling for a playoff spot, to just being out of the Western Conference cellar and with his injury history, I would not be surprised to see that happen and I would like to see Andrew Raycroft get his first start of the season as Lehtonen has played nearly every minute in every game in the young season.
The PK needs to improve drastically as the team is currently ranked dead last at just 60% as the team has already given up 10 PP Goals in 25 PK Situations and that's a microcosm of the entire defense for the Stars as the team has given up 3 or more goals in 3 of the 5 games played so far and needs to stop depending on OT as 3 of the teams 4 wins have relied on OT/SO so far and with the new rules that SO won't be part of the Tiebreaker rules this year, it could get them a lot of points but they throwing away chances at possible Tie Breakers that could be critical later in the season, especially in a year where they don't have the playoff experience of the last 2 seasons.
All hints are pointing at Andrew Raycroft getting his first start of the season on Wednesday Night when the Stars head to Miami to play the Florida Panthers. With the heavy load that Lehtonen has been pulling early, the team needs to step up its shot blocking ability because of the leaky defense, Raycroft and Lehtonen will need all the help they can get it and this would be a big help in that.
Even though the team is still 4-1-0 through 5 games, this team is building a confidence that they can be one of the big surprises of the NHL Season, even though it's still early and a lot can happen over the course of an 82 game season.
After Thrusday Night's Game against Florida, it's their first big homestand of the year where the Stars will have a 6 game homestand. The Stars need to use this as a presnce to show the league they at least can be a hard team to beat at home and show fans a reason to fill the AAC on a nightly basis after the game on Saturday against the Blues was one of the lowest attended regular season games at the AAC. A strong homestand would do them a lot of good that a playoff spot is a strong possibility this year.
Dallas Stars VS. Tampa Bay Lightning Game Video
Dallas Stars 4 Tampa Bay Lightning 5 (1-2, 1-2, 2-1)
Mike Heika: Kari Lehtonen Needs Help
Mike Heika: Observation's from Dallas Stars VS. Tampa Bay Lightning
Game Recap from Bob Matuszak of the Dallas Stars Website
From Tampa, Florida: The Stars had been able to overcome some loosey-goosey play early on this season, but on Monday it finally caught up to them.
Looking to remain the only unbeaten NHL Team after Toronto lost earlier in the evening, the Stars made a late change before ultimatley falling to the Tampa bay Lightning 5-4, at St. Pete Times Fourm.
Turnovers, penalties and the inability to control the shot clock doomed Dallas, for the first time this year (4-1-0).
"Tampa Bay was an honest, hard working team, they deserved to get the two points, and they got them," said Kari Lehtonen. "It was a little bump in the road. We have to get up and get going next game."
The Stars, trying to start with five consecutive wins for the first time since 2006-2007 season, surrended a whopping 44 shots after coming in already allowing an average of 36.5 shots per game. Adding to the downfall was a penalty killing unit that got victimized for four goals on five chances, and a power play that powerless in most of five opportunities.
"You usually win or lose the games with special teams," Lehtonen said. "We have to figure that out. It's still early but it seems like we are really not that sharp on the PK. I have to work harder to see shots and not give bad rebounds like I did at least once today. Just need to clean things up a bit, and I think we're going to be fine."
Dallas has now given up 8 power play goals on 14 opponent opportunties on the road, which translates into an ugly 42.9 % success rate.
"We couldn't kill a penalty to save our life," head coach Mark Crawford said. "It was very discouraging because we didn't get in the lane. You look at the difference between the two penalty kills, they got in the lane and blocked shots, and we didn't. They either scored on a deflection of a shot getting through, or a rebound of a shot after the initial save. That's such an important factor of both the power play and the penalty kill."
Brendan Morrow had a goal and an assist, and Toby Petersen, Adam Burish and James Neal also scored for the Stars. Mike Riberio added a pair of assists and workhorse goalie finished with 39 saves.
Steve Stamkos had a goal and two assists, Dominic Moore scored twice, and Steve Downie and Sean Bergenheim also scored for the Lightning, who were playing without captain Vincent Lecavalier. Lecavalier is nursing a finger injury sustained in Tampa Bay's losses to Friday on Saturday.
Former Stars netminder Mike Smith turned aside 15 saves for the win.
Moore scored his second of the game on the power play 6:11 into the third to make it 5-2 before Morrow cut the lead with his fifth of the season just 13 seconds later.
Neal then made things interesting when he scored his third of the year with 60 seconds left in regulation and Lehtonen on the bench for an extra attacker, whipping home a wrist shot from the left circle off a pass from the left point by Brad Richards.
The Stars were then handed a power play with 56 seconds left after Tampa Bay Center Ryan Malone was whistled for for tripping on the ensuing faceoff. But the Lightning were able to block four shot attempts during the man advantage to thwart the Stars visions of sending the game to OT.
Down 2-1 after 20 minutes, Dallas got the equalizer when Burish scored his first as a Star at 6:04 into the second. From the left circle Morrow tapped the puck into the corner, where Riberio picked it up and promptly sent a pass to Burish skating into the slot. The gritty winger quickly snapped the puck all in one motion, and found a way through Smith's Legs.
The Lightning went back in-front when Bergenheim notched his first of the year at 10:34 left in the 2nd period. Skating to the front of the net Bergenheim easily tapped to Stamkos perfect feed from the left corner that eluded a sliding Marc Fistric to make it 3-2.
Moore pused Tampa Bay's lead to 4-2 with yet another power play goal with 1:54 reamining in the middle frame. With Stephane Robidas in the penalty box, Tampa Bay Defensemen Pavel Kubina took a shot from the middle of the blue line that ricocheted in of Moore of the shot.
Following the 2nd period, the Lightning enjoy a bloated 35-10 shot advantage, and outshot the Stars a margin of 20-3 during the 2nd 20 minutes.
Petersen put the Stars up 1-0 with 4:56 left in the first period with the team's first shorthanded goal of the season. Corralling a loose puck inside in the Dallas Blue Line, Petersen raced up the right wing before snapping a shot past Smith from the inner portion of the right circle.
The Lead was short lived, as Downie tied it on the same power play opportunity 77 seconds later. From the left point, Martin St. Louis led a slap shot goal that went off of Downie and behind Lehtonen.
Tampa Bay took its first lead of the game, 2-1, with another power play goal with just 13.2 seconds to go in the opening staniza. Lehtonen was able to spit out Victor Hedman's slap shot from the left point, Stamkos collected the rebound and flung it home with just two seconds remaining on Fistric's roughing penalty.
The Stars will finish up their tour of the Sunshine State when they play at the Florida Panthers on Thrusday Night (6:30 PM, FSN Southwest).
Here's the Stars next five Games.
10/21: @ Florida Panthers 6:30 PM (FSN Southwest)
10/23: VS. Nashville Predators 7:00 PM (TXA 21)
10/26: VS. Anaheim Ducks 8:00 PM (FSN Southwest)
10/28: VS. Los Angeles Kings 7:30 PM (FSN Southwest)
10/30: VS. Buffalo Sabres 7:00 PM (TXA 21)
Stars Note Book
Left Wing Jamie Benn missed his third game because of concussion symptions and continues to be day-to-day. Defensemen Jeff Woywitka and winger Kris Barch were also scratched up. Center Aaron Gagnon made his season debut after being recalled by the Texas Stars (AHL) on Sunday.
Richards has picked up at-least one point in all five games and has 10 points overall. He entered the game tied with Chicago's Marian Hossa for the league lead in scoring.
Both Tampa Bay goalies are both former Stars Products. Smith played 44 games over the course of 2 seasons starting in 2006, while Dan Ellis was a 2nd Round Draft Pick back in 2000.
The Stars are off to their best start was in 1996-1997 when they won their first six games.
Dallas has now lost 2 straight in Tampa Bay after winning 8 in a row there.
The Stars have allowed 40 or more shots in three of the first five games.
Lehtonen dropped to 9-2-1 in his last 12 starts against the Lightning.
Smith improved to 2-0-1 lifetime against the Stars
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