After the Stars played a horrible game against the Minnesota Wild on October 12, they faced off against a white-hot Colorado Avalanche squad coached by Patrick Roy.
The Stars were thoroughly dominated in the possession aspect against the Wild, but flipped the script against the Avalanche. Unfortunately, the Stars ran into a hot goalie in Semyon Varlamov. They scored twice against him, and that was the most goals he had allowed at that point in the season.
Ultimately, a turnover, the inability to clear the zone, and tired legs on a delayed penalty would seal the Stars’ fate, as they lost this game 3-2.
But, let’s start from the beginning, when the Stars began on the right (or left) foot.
Rich Peverley’s First Dallas Stars Goal
Rich Peverley can really turn on the jets, and when he does, it is really fun to watch. He caught everybody by surprise.Let us never forget the other key piece of the Tyler Seguin trade.
The genesis of this play begins along the right wing half-wall in the Stars’ zone, with Alex Tanguay and Tyler Seguin battling for the puck.
Tanguay knocks the puck away from Seguin, and Gabriel Landeskog picks it up and carries it toward the slot.
As Landeskog carries it toward the slot, he does not pick up Jamie Benn backchecking.
Benn lifts Landeskog’s stick.
And, to add insult to injury, knocks him onto the ice.
Seguin now has the loose puck, and Peverley directs himself toward the Avalanche zone.
As Seguin feeds Peverley the puck, all three Avalanche forwards are caught in the Stars’ zone. Jan Hejda and Erik Johnson (off-screen) are back to defend for the Avalanche.
However, Hejda does not read the play well, and Peverley has him beat before he hits the red line.
It’s a breakaway for Peverley.
Hejda cannot reach Peverley, and shifts his focus to Jamie Benn. This leaves Johnson as the only defender close enough to stop the breakaway.
And by “closest,” I mean the closest thing to defending Johnson can do is try to hook Peverley.
Johnson is nowhere close to defending Peverley in a productive manner, and Peverley is in the slot.
And fires a perfect shot through the five-hole. 1-0 Stars.
Matt Duchene’s Early Christmas Present from Sergei Gonchar
Turning the puck over like this is inexcusable. I could understand if a rookie made this mistake, but Sergei Gonchar is the guilty party of this egregious mistake.
So, let’s drive ourselves insane by breaking down this anatomy of a failure, shall we?
Here’s Steve Downie carrying the puck into the Stars zone. Ray Whitney is in the passing lane between Downie and Ryan O’Reilly (partially obscured by the scoreboard graphic). Downie’s best option is to carry it in.
Sergei Gonchar blocks Downie’s shot.
And the puck goes behind the net. So far, this is a harmless-looking play.
The puck ricochets off the endboards behind Dan Ellis’ net to the right faceoff circle, where O’Reilly is. Alex Goligoski goes over to O’Reilly to take the puck away from him or at least prevent a pass back to Downie around the net.
O’Reilly throws a weak shot on net, and Sergei Gonchar is in perfect position to not only block the shot, but also give it to either Alex Chiasson, Cody Eakin, or Ray Whitney to start a Stars breakout.
Meanwhile, nobody is aware Matt Duchene has just entered the zone.
Instead of holding onto the puck and then passing it to somebody, Gonchar one-touch passes it to Cody Eakin, and this is where it all goes horribly wrong.
Cody Eakin is not expecting the pass, and the puck goes into his skate.
Now, Eakin and Gonchar bump into each other in front of the net. Gonchar has the puck at his skate, and Chiasson is in perfect position to accept a pass to get out of the zone.
Chiasson retreats to the left-wing boards out of harm’s way. Gonchar’s ready to pass it to him.
Somehow, Matt Duchene is still unguarded, and he is about to enter the slot.
Gonchar completely whiffs on the pass, and Matt Duchene is there to pick up the spoils. In the next three screenshots, you will see why giving Matt Duchene a free shot is a horrible idea.
Did you notice the clock on the scoreboard graphic? In less than a second, Matt Duchene picked up the loose puck, put the puck right where he wanted it on his blade, and fired it past Dan Ellis. His wrist shot is quick and lethal. Perhaps, quickly lethal?
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what happens when teammates are unfamiliar with each other on the ice. Communication breakdown.
Jan Hejda’s “Wait, how did that go in?” Goal
Funny things happen when you don’t clear the zone. Except, I’m not laughing about this.
The eventual goal-scorer, Jan Hejda, pinches to keep the puck in the Stars’ zone.
As Hejda retreats back to the point, the puck goes to the corner, and a battle ensues between Stephane Robidas and P.A. Parenteau.
Parenteau emerges with the puck, and tries to center it to Nathan MacKinnon, next to Brenden Dillon.
Dan Ellis knocks the puck away from MacKinnon, and it goes to the point. Erik Cole and Antoine Roussel are in position to pick up the loose puck, should it go that direction.
However, Cole or Roussel do not anticipate just how quickly the puck will come their way (half a second).
Jan Hejda skates towards the loose puck and winds up for a one-timer.
Hejda fires a shot, and Cole tries to block it by standing in the lane instead of diving to block it. That could have made a huge difference, because…
Hejda fires a low shot because it has a higher chance of being deflected by a skate or leg with all that traffic in front of the net than a high shot would. Sure enough, the puck deflects into the net off Brenden Dillon’s skate past Ellis.
With seven seconds left in the first period, this was a back-breaker of a goal to give up.
Cody Eakin’s Power Play Goal
The Stars were victims of bad luck on Jan Hejda’s goal, but here on Cody Eakin’s goal, luck is on their side.
This play is all Ray Whitney and Cody Eakin.
The power play is in its dying seconds. Cody Eakin has the puck deep in the corner, and keeps it away from Cory Sarich.
Andre Benoit, to the right of Eakin in the frame, also can’t pry the puck away from Eakin.
Eakin drops it to Whitney, who carries it below the circle. Eakin then goes towards the net.
Sarich has the passing lane between Whitney and Eakin cut off, and Benoit has the lane between Whitney and Horcoff at the net cut off.
Despite the circumstances, Whitney centers the puck toward the slot. It looks like Sarich is going to intercept the pass, but…
Sarich doesn’t completely block the pass, and the puck redirects toward the faceoff dot.
This results in a broken give-and-go between Whitney and Eakin, and Eakin collects the loose puck.
Eakin fires the puck. Horcoff is in position to bury a rebound, should it come his way.
Horcoff doesn’t need to bury a rebound, however, because Eakin’s shot beats Varlamov five-hole.
One more look at Whitney’s pass.
Matt Duchene’s Rocket
If Jan Hejda’s goal was a back-breaker, this next goal by Duchene was the dagger. But damn, what a shot.
On a delayed penalty for the Stars, Duchene send the puck to P.A. Parenteau, second from the top of the frame.
Parenteau carries it behind his own blue line, and Rich Peverley, the only Star covering Duchene, heads toward the bench for a line change since he has had a long shift.
Unfortunately for the Stars, this frees up Duchene, and Parenteau feeds him the puck at center ice.
Duchene blows right past Tyler Seguin.
Sergei Gonchar, who was on the ice for the other Duchene goal, fails to properly read Duchene’s route.
From a similar spot to his first goal on the night, Duchene fires a shot.
This is a goal-scorer’s goal, ladies and gentlemen. Ellis barely has time to react to the shot before it’s in the net.
Dan Ellis’ Miraculous Bail-out Save
It’s still amazing how this shot by Steve Downie does not go in. But once again, this play all happens because of a turnover.
Sergei Gonchar, who did not have the greatest of games, coughs up the puck in the neutral zone, and Ryan O’Reilly picks up the loose change.
Alex Goligoski loses his edge near center ice, and it looks like this play is going to end poorly for the Stars.
Goligoski regains his footing, but he’s nowhere close to preventing the developing play. That responsibility shifts to Erik Cole, who’s behind O’Reilly.
Cole catches up to O’Reilly just in time, and ties him up. This allows Goligoski to catch up and help Cole out.
O’Reilly attempts a weak backhand shot, which goes wide, and the puck ricochets behind the net.
Four Stars have converged to the slot, and Steve Downie is all alone in the high slot. Nobody is aware he is wide open.
Matt Duchene beats Erik Cole to the puck, and Downie is still wide open, and still undetected.
Duchene somehow gets the puck to Downie underneath O’Reilly in the crease.
Downie’s got the puck in the middle of the slot, and he has what appears to be a wide-open net to shoot in. Surely, he’s going to score, right? Right?
Nope. Dan Ellis says “No soup for you!”
Alex Chiasson’s Last-Second Scoring Chance
Oh, the Stars almost pulled off the improbable. Almost.
The puck took a huge hop off the faceoff. Erik Cole is the first person to get to it. Alex Chiasson is all alone in the slot. 1.9 seconds left? It’s doable.
One second left? Still doable, but unlikely. All Cory Sarich has to do is cut off the pass between Cole and Chiasson.
Except Sarich does not cut off the pass, and the puck goes right to Chiasson.
Right on the doorstep, Chiasson has the left side of the net to shoot in.
But Chiasson shoots it right into Varlamov’s pads, and time expires. Given that Chiasson had less than half a second to shoot, I am not going to fault him for shooting the puck as soon as it hit his stick. With that short amount of time, he can’t think about where he wants to shoot it.