It probably should have been clear from the first shift of the game that this was not going to be the Dallas Stars’ night.
The Stars suffered a 4-1 loss at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night, and it was ugly from the start. Less than 10 seconds into the game, Ray Whitney fell awkwardly in front of the Carolina bench and left the game with a lower-body injury. He did not return, and the fourth line that led the Stars to victory over the Washington Capitals just two nights ago was broken up.
Dallas dominated the first period, yet they headed into the first intermission tied at zero. The Stars played a very energetic first period full of scoring chances, but they simply could not convert. They outshot the Hurricanes 13-8, but a very strange and fluky goal 2:30 into the second period gave Carolina a lead that they never relinquished.
The Stars seemed deflated after the goal, and while a goaltending change seemed to work momentarily, Carolina goalie Anton Khudobin was stellar in net and demoralized the Stars.
In the first two periods, the Stars had several cross-crease passes that either failed to connect or were robbed by Khudobin. Opportunities continued to materialize for the Stars in the form of odd-man rushes and power plays, but they simply could not convert. Dallas was 0-for-3 on the power play and 3-for-5 on the penalty kill, and Khudobin’s 33 saves were the difference in the game.
The Stars remain in eighth place in the Western Conference standings as they still have a game in hand on the ninth-place Phoenix Coyotes. The road trip continues with back-to-back games this weekend against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers. While this was a setback for the Stars, they still control their destiny and have a day off to correct their mistakes and get their minds set for the final two games of the road trip.