Three Takeaways From the Stars Loss to the Blues

ST. LOUIS, MO - JANUARY 09: Dallas Stars defense Ryan Suter (20) controls the puck as St. Louis Blues center Ryan O'Reilly (90) defends during a NHLgame between the Dallas Stars and the St. Louis Blues on January 09, 2022, at Enterprise Center, St. Louis, MO. (Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images),

Brutally, the Dallas Stars dropped a 2-1 road loss to the St. Louis Blues on Sunday. The Stars held a 2-1 lead until the final minute, where they allowed two powerplay goals and lost the game in regulation. The Dallas forecheck stunned the Blues’ offense for 59 of the 60 on-ice minutes. Braden Holtby was nearly perfect, but the hockey gods did not want the Stars to win. Here are the three takeaways from the Stars loss:

Ineffective Powerplay

Today, Dallas went 0-for-3 on the powerplay, marking their second-straight game without a powerplay goal. They couldn’t convert on their only chance in yesterday’s game, a 3-2 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Against the Blues, all three were snuffed out by Jordan Binnington and the Blues’ stellar penalty kill. The Stars didn’t register a shot on net until the third powerplay that came late in the third period.

This season, the Stars rank fifth in the NHL in powerplay percentage, converting on 25 percent of their powerplays. Against the Blues, the Stars’ powerplay struggled to gain the offensive zone. The four shots that came on their third and final powerplay opportunity couldn’t beat Binnington. Honestly, it was the only part of their game that wasn’t great. In every other aspect of the game, the Stars were ahead.

Binnington played at an elite level, and the only goal allowed in trickled past him. Midway through the second period, Jason Robertson squeezed the puck past Binnington on a broken play. The scramble in front of the net had Binnington out of position, and Robertson forced the puck and Binnington’s pad over the line. This was the Stars’ only goal.

“If we play like that, we’re going to win a lot of hockey games,” Coach Rick Bowness said during the postgame press conference. “That’s the way we have to play every road game.”

Holtby Shines

Holtby played phenomenally, saving 29 of 31 shots. He was 55 seconds away from a shutout win when the Blues scored their first powerplay goal. Jani Hakanpaa went to the penalty box for a hooking minor, which Stars captain Jamie Benn widely protested. The Stars took a second penalty before the goal was scored, a slashing minor by Miro Heiskanen, so the Stars had to kill off a whole new penalty. With momentum on their side, the Blues took a 2-1 lead with under 30 seconds remaining in the game.

For the other 99 percent of the game, Holtby was masterful. He turned aside Jordan Kyrou and Brayden Schenn, whose dangerous shots came from the slot all night. Matching Binnington, Holtby held his own and was just as good as his Blues counterpart.

“I kind of expected that for him,” Roberston said. “He’s an elite goalie, and we’re lucky to have him.”

Missed Call

The Stars did not get favorable calls at the end of the game. As the refs blew the whistle on the Hakanpaa hooking call, a viable frustrated Benn shot the puck around the boards. It’s unclear whether that was motioned at the refs or at Hakanpaa for taking a penalty with less than two minutes to go. The hook itself wasn’t all that obvious and is killer to a team up 1-0 late in the third period. St. Louis also had their goaltender pulled, so the Stars skated 6-on-4.

The Blues took their time to set up the perfect play, and as shots went towards the net, things got chaotic. Before the Blues’ first goal, the puck was loose behind the net. Heiskanen was fighting off two Blues when his stick was grabbed, and he went tumbling to the ice. The referee made no call, and the Blues regained possession. Seconds later, Heiskanen went for a stick lift to prevent a Blues player from tipping the puck on net. Heiskanen put too much force behind the stick check and broke the opposing player’s stick.

The Blues shot initially missed the net but then ricocheted off the end board and back into the slot. Ryan O’Reilly then scored as Holtby was down and out. The referees also called the Heiskanen stick check a slashing penalty. Because O’Reilly’s goal came before the play was whistled dead, the penalty reset itself, and the Stas needed to kill off an extra two-minute penalty.

Kyrou scored the game-winning goal for St. Louis. His shot went off Hakanpaa’s knee and into the net. The Stars couldn’t score in the final thirty seconds of the game.

“They clearly pulled Miro down,” a frustrated Bowness said after the game. “[The Blues] got lucky. A broken stick on a penalty kill, second goal goes in off our feet. That’s the breaks of the game,” he said. “We played a hell of a hockey game. We deserved a lot better than that.”

The Stars’ next game is Wednesday, at home against Seattle.

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