While the Toronto Maple Leafs can take one point and some positives away from their first defeat of the season to the New York Islanders, the Dallas Stars have plenty to worry about after the Tampa Bay Lightning handed them a humbling (and misleadingly close) 5-4 loss tonight.
The Stars were getting away with allowing a lot of shots (an average of 38 per game including tonight’s ugly affair) – and plenty of power-play goals – so far in their impressive 4-0 run, but their luck ran out tonight. It’s almost as if the Lightning were angered by Toby Petersen’s short-handed goal, as the hard-charging group scored a stunning four out of five times on the man advantage in this game. Steve Stamkos was especially impressive in this one, scoring one goal and adding two assists to bring his season totals to five goals and nine points in only five games played.
A bad penalty kill is troubling enough, but that aforementioned tendency to get out-shot might be the most worrisome trend. As impressive as Kari Lehtonen can be, you’re not going to win many games when you give up 44 shots and only put 19 on the opposing goalie.
The second period was especially embarrassing for the Stars as the Lightning out-shot them 20-3 while widening their lead from 2-1 to 4-2. The stunning part is that Tampa Bay did this all without team captain Vincent Lecavalier, who missed the contest with a hand injury.
Dallas made a late surge in the third period after allowing their fourth PP goal of the night, as Brenden Morrow scored soon after and James Neal brought the game to within one goal with a minute left. This team clearly can fill the net with aplomb, but chances are pretty high that they won’t often produce four (or more) goals on less than 20 shots over the long haul.
The good news is that the Stars are still 4-1 even though they’ve needed great goaltending and an explosive offense to obscure some serious blemishes. The bad news is that they have a long way to go until they can match their elite record with elite, overall team efforts.
If nothing else, they should be awfully entertaining to watch if they can keep scoring at such a blistering rate, though.