The Dallas Stars ended their five-game homestand with a thud. The Stars blew a 3-1 lead and fell to the New York Islanders, 5-4, Thursday night at American Airlines Center.
“It hurts, it really hurts,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “There’s no excuse for the way we defended a couple of those goals.”
The Stars overcame an early 1-0 deficit and rallied to take a 3-1 lead. But the Islanders scored late in the second to get some momentum, and it carried over into the third, where New York scored three straight goals to take a 5-3 lead and control of the game.
“I thought we had a good start. I felt we were in control of the game and then they got one late in the second there. I felt like they just wanted it more than us,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn.
Benn scored two goals, and Radek Faksa and Jason Spezza also scored for the Stars, who fell to 25-29-10 on the season. Antti Niemi got the start in goal and allowed five goals on 33 shots.
Ryan Strome recorded one goal and two assists and Nick Leddy tallied one goal and one assist for the Islanders, who won for the fourth time in their past five games and improved to 30-22-10 on the season.
“In the third period we really clamped down, we played in their zone, and we did it consistently and got results,” Strome said. “Our third periods the last 20 games or so have been really good. A lot of calmness in our group. We knew if we’d get one, we’d get a couple. So it shows our leadership, our poise, and our team is growing.”
The Islanders opened the scoring midway through the first period. After New York goaltender Thomas Griess made a big save on a point-blank bid by Tyler Seguin, the Stars turned over the puck and Strome scored on a breakaway to put the Islanders up 1-0 at the 9:29 mark.
The Stars scored on the power play to tie the game with 7.4 seconds left in the first. After a great move to get to the net by Jason Spezza, Tyler Seguin gathered up the rebound and set up Benn, who scored from the slot to make it a 1-1 game heading into the first intermission.
The Stars took the lead at 7:33 of the second. Faksa evaded a hip check from Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield by jumping up and sliding along the boards, and then took a pass from Patrick Sharp and scored from about 15 out to put the Stars up 2-1.
“Their defense didn’t have interest to play the puck, just tried to hit me, so I just tried to jump around him, and I was sliding and just kept sliding,” Faksa said. “I somehow landed on my feet and scored a goal. It was a good feeling to score again, but too bad we didn’t win.”
A little less than three minutes later, the Stars had a 3-1 lead. John Klingberg made a great pass from the point to Spezza, who scored from the bottom of the left circle at the 10:14 mark.
The Islanders cut the lead to one at the 14:49 mark when Andrew Ladd scored during a scramble in front of Niemi to make it a 3-2 game and their rally was underway.
“It gave them momentum,” said Benn. “They came out in the third and got another break on their third goal. We sat back too much, and they came after us.”
New York tied the game 25 seconds into the third. Leddy shot wide from the point off the rush, the puck bounced off the end boards and then bounced in the net off Niemi’s skate to make it a 3-3 game. The Islanders then scored two goals in less than two minutes to take a 5-3 lead. Dennis Seidenberg scored on a shot from the left point to put the Islanders ahead 4-3 at the 7:46 mark and Nikolay Kulemin scored from close range at the 9:29 mark to extend the lead to two goals.
Benn cut the lead to 5-4 with 2:51 remaining in the third period, tallying on a backhand shot with the Stars shorthanded. But the Stars couldn’t get the equalizer and ended their homestand 3-2-0.
Notes: Roussel injured, will miss extended time perhaps rest of season
*The Stars lost forward Antoine Roussel to an upper-body injury and the news after the game wasn’t good. He is going to miss extended time, perhaps the rest of the season. Roussel didn’t play after blocking a Johnny Boychuk shot late in the first period.
“It’s not good news,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “I don’t have a time frame, but it’s going to be awhile. In all likelihood, the rest of the year. That hurt us.”
*Ales Hemsky returned to the lineup for the first time since going out in late October due to hip surgery. He played 10:07 and had two shots on goal.
“As soon as we got him on the power play breakout, the speed was evident,” Ruff said. “He walked in and had a real good opportunity. He was hurting a little bit late. He got hit with a shot, and he’ll be evaluated for that tomorrow. I think that slowed him down a little bit.”
“Up and down,” Hemsky said. “The first wasn’t that bad. I thought I was skating pretty well. I took the blocked shot, and I was a little slower, but overall my legs felt pretty good. My hands are not there yet, but I’ll take it. I’m happy I can play. We will see next game.”
*Greg Pateryn, acquired Monday from Montreal, made his Stars debut. He played 14:57, picked up an assist and had three blocked shots.
“Okay,” Ruff said. “It’s tough in the first game. I’ll look at the game again, but I thought okay. Perhaps a little bit unsure of exactly what we want.”
*The Islanders outshot the Stars 33-25 and had a 69-55 advantage in shot attempts.
*The Stars were 1-1 on the power play and 2-2 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars won 29 of 56 faceoffs (52 percent). Jason Spezza won 12 of 17 faceoffs (71 percent).
*Esa Lindell led the Stars with 23:26 of ice time. John Klingberg was next with 23:13.
The Stars hit the road for two games, playing at Florida (Saturday) and Washington (Monday). Their next home game is Wednesday when they take on Ottawa.
Jamie Benn – Jason Spezza – Tyler Seguin
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Brett Ritchie
Curtis McKenzie – Radek Faksa – Patrick Sharp
Jiri Hudler – Devin Shore – Ales Hemsky
Esa Lindell – John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis – Stephen Johns
Jamie Oleksiak – Greg Pateryn
Scratched: Patrik Nemeth
Injured: Adam Cracknell (lower body), Mattias Janmark (knee)