Another game, another loss due to bad old habits for the Dallas Stars.
The Stars visited the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night hoping to bounce back from an ugly 7-2 loss at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets two nights before. Some familiar issues reared their ugly heads yet again as the Stars lost 5-1. For the past couple of months, Dallas’ defense seemed to have solved their issues with inconsistency, sloppiness and turnovers. Over the past three games, however, they have fallen victim to the same problems all over again.
Pittsburgh’s first two goals started with turnovers by the Stars in their own zone. The third goal was due to weak defensive positioning, and the fourth was a fortunate bounce for the Penguins with Sidney Crosby outworking the Stars to the front of the net. Dallas’ final critical mistake was giving up a short-handed breakaway goal to the Penguins’ Brandon Sutter.
Four of the goals were caused by mistakes that a team fighting for the playoffs cannot afford to make. Turnovers were the primary cause for their loss to the Jets, and they committed the same mistakes again against the Penguins.
The Stars tried to force too many passes, and they could not hit the net with their shots. They had several 2-on-1 rushes that either ended up as wide shots or broken plays. Seguin alone had four good scoring chances, three of which sailed over the net while another hit the crossbar. Colton Sceviour and Erik Cole also missed wide open nets in the third period. The Stars had three power plays at points in the game that could have led to a tie or the beginning of a comeback. Instead, they came up short each time.
The Stars outshot the Penguins 33-32, and Pittsburgh blocked 14 shots, so the Stars were throwing the puck on net However, they were not able to solve Jeff Zatkoff. Too many times, they shot the puck directly into his chest. Seguin scored Dallas’ lone goal by re-directing a Trevor Daley shot from the blue line in the first period.
The Stars could not create traffic in front of Zatkoff consistently, and when they did, the Penguins were able to clear the zone with a counter-attack.
Turnovers, missed shots, failed power play opportunities and sloppy defense will doom any team on any given night, let alone all of the above against one of the most dangerous offensive teams in the league.
Despite the loss, the Stars remain two points behind the Phoenix Coyotes for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Stars may have games in hand and tiebreakers on the other teams on the playoff bubble, but they need to get rid of the bad habits that have plagued them recently if they have any hope of making the postseason.