DALLAS — This wasn’t how the Dallas Stars wanted to go into the All-Star Break.
It seemed like everything went wrong in a 4-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.
Bounces didn’t go their way, they looked lackadaisical at key moments, and the one line that played well couldn’t finish or catch a break against the Maple Leafs back-up goalie.
“We had too many players who looked light today,” Stars coach Ken Hitchcock said. “(Tyler) Seguin’s line was really the only one that played in a heavy atmosphere and did a good job but we looked light. We didn’t have the compete level at the puck that we normally have we were very light at moving the puck too. And against a team that checks well you’re going to have problems with it and that’s what we did.”
Mattias Janmark had the roughest night of the group.
His turnover in the first period led to the goal that made it 1-0, while Toronto’s third goal deflected off the Swede and past Ben Bishop.
“It was terrible game by us, so of course it’s bad,” Janmark said. “It’s not good going into the break just terrible game doesn’t matter if it’s the break coming up.”
Greg Pateryn and Dan Hamhuis, who have been rather stout this season, made a couple mistakes including a turnover by Pateryn early in the third period that immediately led to Auston Matthews’ goal that made it 4-1.
“I can’t remember the last time we’ve given up odd man rushes like we gave and the odd man rushes we gave up were us with the puck,” Hitchcock said. “And really light plays with the puck. And on three of the goals where we actually had full possession and turned it over. That was disappointing.”
Turnovers were a constant theme for the Stars. They were officially credited with 23 giveaways, four each by Ben Bishop and John Klingberg, while the Maple Leafs only had two takeaways.
Jason Spezza said it was a whole team issue, they simply didn’t get enough pressure.
“I just don’t think we were sharp enough tonight, we didn’t get enough pucks behind them,” Spezza said. “We made it too easy for them to shorten the rink and play a counter attack game against us and that’s things we haven’t been doing. Hopefully we learned our lesson tonight.”
The top line of Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and Alexander Radulov actually played pretty well and dominated possession when they were on the ice. They scored the Stars lone goal, but this was a night they needed more support and it was a wasted effort for the big line.
“I was thinking in the third period we wasted a really good performance by Seguin’s line,” Hitchcock said. “That’s the first thing I thought. You don’t get a line that dominates like that very often. And unfortunately they didn’t’ score on all their chances but we just had too many players under the bar today.”
Heatherington headed to Texas
Stars rookie defenseman Dillon Heatherington is going to spend his All-Star break in the AHL with the Texas Stars.
Heatherington told the Stars post-game show that the plan was for him to play back-to-back games with Texas this weekend in Cedar Park and then re-join the NHL team before Tuesday’s game against the Los Angeles Kings.
It was the first start since Dec. 20 for Maple Leafs back-up goalie Curtis McElhinney and he was superb with 39 saves.
“It feels good. Obviously, it’s been a long layover,” McElhinney said. “It’s just the way the schedule’s worked out. The last couple games (both losses) for me were tough personally, so this is a good way to bounce back tonight.”
It was an expected performance from Toronto coach Mike Babcock.
“That’s what we pay him to do,” Babcock said.