There are some losses that we get upset about and others that we can shrug off, and this is definitely one that we can shrug off.
The Stars were playing their third straight road game on the East Coast after having already beaten the Rangers and the Islanders, so some type of let down was to be expected.
Even so, it was not like the Stars had a horrible night, as they were in this game up until about halfway through the third period.
The Devils got on the board first, when Santini scored his second goal of the season very early in the first period.
Martin Hanzal answered on a power play opportunity about two minutes later, which was good news on several fronts.
First, it was nice to see Hanzal get on the board for only the second time this year, as he is clearly benefitting from some ice time with Seguin. Second, it was also nice to see the power play convert early in the game.
Early in the season, the Stars had the top-rated power play in the league converting at nearly 36 percent, but now it down to 15th and at only 19 percent.
Unfortunately, it was the only time the Stars would convert on a power play on a night when they really needed to take advantage of the power play opportunities.
Blake Coleman closed out the first period with a goal with under a minute to play, an absolute back breaker after having played to well in the period.
Radulov, who has been a one-man wrecking crew lately, got the game knotted up midway through the second, but Boyle converted on another power play late in the period to put the Devils back up on top to stay.
Lappin notched his first goal of the season midway through the third and Boyle scored his second of the night, his eighth of the season, with two minutes left to ice the game for the Devils.
In addition to the obvious challenge of playing winning teams on back-to-back-to-back nights, the refs were just a bit challenged in this one and it just happened to impact the game.
Boyle hit the ice after a Klingberg check that was ruled a cross-check, but looked more like a championship flop to me.
Hitchcock commented on the play, stating, “Halfway through the game, they had nine shots, which is exactly what you want. Klingberg’s penalty – whether that was a penalty or not – that allowed them to take a breather and then the 5-on-3, from there, I don’t think it should have been a penalty at all.”
He continued, “But that kind of gave them a breather to get shots on goal, and then obviously three missed chances on the power play when the game is 3-2, so it turned twice for us.”
Klingberg tried to clarify what happened, stating, “I told him [Boyle] he was 100 pounds heavier than me and I think he fell easy there. I don’t think it’s a cross-check. And after he scored a goal, he celebrated in my face and I didn’t think that was respectful. He said he was sorry, so let’s move on.”
Yes, it was a loss, but the team played hard, got chippy when they fell behind, and seemed to stay angry the rest of the night. If there is such a thing as a good loss, this was it, because it should carry over to their next game and give them a nice edge as they wind up this four-game road trip.
Lehtonen saved only 21 of 25 shots, but the Devils had five power plays on the night, so he was getting peppered quite a bit when they were shorthanded.
Radulov remains hot, scoring his 11th goal of the season.
Lindell did not score, but he managed to rack up two points with an assist on each of the goals.
Seguin continues to struggle to find the back of the net, not having scored since December 3. More worrisome is the fact he does not seem to be shooting as much, only putting six shots on net in the last two games. Tyler has only two points in the Stars last four losses, so it quite clear that as he rolls, so goes this team.
The Stars (18-14-1) wrap up the East Coast swing against Philadelphia (13-11-7) tonight. Even though they are playing back-to-back games, that loss to the Devils should not sit well and give the Stars a bit of an edge and enough attitude to take down a struggling Flyers team.