It’s been almost six months since the Dallas Stars lost to the Detroit Red Wings in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final and the team has been trying to come up with a way to get back to the Finals.
The Stars were down 2-1 when defenseman Cody Eakin scored his third goal of the playoffs and the Stars were up 2-0 after the first period when defenseman Patrik Nemeth scored his fourth of the postseason.
But the Red Wings scored a shorthanded goal late in the second period and tied it at 3 on an empty-net goal by Tyler Myers.
But after an extra attacker had the puck on the far side of the goal line and was offside, Nemeth took a penalty on Matt Dumba and scored from the faceoff dot to make it 3-3.
The Red Wings then had a power play, but it didn’t result in any points, leaving the Stars down 3-2.
The first period, when the Stars outshot the Red Wing defense 24-21, looked like they might win it, but when the second and third periods started, the Stars struggled.
Stars coach Lindy Ruff was not happy with his team’s play.
“I think we gave up a couple goals, but we didn’t get them back,” Ruff said after the game.
“We were pretty sloppy at the start of the second, and we didn, and so I thought that was kind of a tough first period.”
After the Stars had the second goal, they tied it up with two goals in the third.
But just two seconds later, NemETH scored again.
That’s when Ruff was really upset.
“It’s just the first couple of minutes, that was a pretty bad first period,” Ruff told reporters after the second.
“When we were down 3, we gave ourselves an opportunity to score and we weren’t able to do it.”
Stars coach Ken Hitchcock didn’t want to comment on the scoring, but said he was pleased with how the Stars played in the first half.
“That was a good effort by our guys,” Hitchcock said.
“Obviously, when you lose the first two games of the series, there’s always something to be concerned about.
It was definitely an emotional night.
You always want to be better, you want to improve, but you’re always concerned about the first few minutes of the game, you have to have that first couple to get yourself going.”
After they scored three goals in a span of three minutes, the Redwings got back to within three goals at 2:41 of the third period.
“They were out of their zone, they were playing their game,” Hitchcock added.
“Then we got the first power play goal.
We got the second power play at 2, we got it in overtime and we got a goal back.”
But the Stars, who had been able to get on a five-game winning streak, couldn’t get back on track.
The team lost two more games in the series.
Ruff said he’s been trying hard to get the Stars to play a more consistent game and to have a better second period.
After the game he said the Stars have to play better in the offensive zone.
“You have to make a better first shift,” Ruff explained.
“Now, you can play better.
Afterwards, the Rangers had their own thoughts on the loss.
“If you lose, we all get fired up,” forward Kevin Hayes said.
Stars forward Brian Boyle had a different take on the game and the game losing.
“Yeah, we knew it was coming, we were pretty much prepared for that,” Boyle said.
“[But] this is a team, and they are a very good team.
It’s just a team that hasn’t been very good lately.”
The Stars had to play the rest of the regular season on their third line, and the result was a 5-3 loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
Dallas had the best first period of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, outshooting the Kings 27-12.
It wasn’t until the third, but after the Stars got the goal, that the Kings got a power-play goal.
And when the Kings scored, they did it with two guys on the ice.
“At first we thought it was going to be a one-goal game,” Boyle added.