Antti Niemi got the start for the Dallas Stars on Saturday. He didn’t even make it past the five-minute mark before getting the hook.
Niemi allowed three goals on three shots against the Minnesota Wild. In 4:01 of ice time. It didn’t take long for Lindy Ruff to get him out of the net, having seen enough. By that time, the damage had pretty much been done.
The Stars fell behind four goals before the game was 13 minutes old. They did manage to come back and tie the game in the third period, only to give up the go-ahead goal to Jason Zucker just two minutes later. In the end, Dallas, a team chasing a Wild Card spot in the West, lost 5-4 in regulation.
It’s easy to pile on the Stars for their goaltending issues. They have been covered extensively (click here, here and here) on PHT. Niemi has a save percentage of .907 and Lehtonen just .898 this season.
As a team, Dallas is in the bottom half of the league in scoring. Dallas is also among the worst teams defensively. And the Stars, a team that has been plagued by injuries, have been wildly inconsistent throughout this season.
The result is the Stars slip to .500 for the 15th time this season. Dallas is 18-18-8, still in the pack of six teams battling for the two playoff wildcard spots in the Western Conference, but making no real statement with their play.
“I think you have to say it has to be,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said when asked if the .500 run was indicative of the season. “It was good to see there was no quit. That could have been an ugly game, but coming out in the second the way we did was good to see. But we creep a little bit above and then lose a tough one. We haven’t been able to push through and put a string of games together.”
The Stars are three points out of a playoff spot.