Stars lose con­trol

Early lead van­ishes as Dal­las can’t match Preda­tors’ in­ten­sity

The Dallas Morning News - - Sportsday - MIKE HEIKA mheika@dal­las­news.com

NASHVILLE — The chaos is very real for the Stars. Coach Ken Hitch­cock has preached since train­ing camp that the NHL is faster and more fre­netic, and he said his team has to learn to re­main calm while the ac­tion is so chaotic. The Stars didn’t do that T hurs­day and took a 4-1 loss to Nashville, fall­ing to 1-3-0. “I thought the first pe­riod we played was as good a pe­riod as we played all year, and then they had a seven-minute stretch where they went to an­other level, and we didn’t have an an­swer,” Hitch­cock said.

Dal­las scored first on a Jamie Benn power-play goal and even killed off a five-minute ma­jor penalty to Martin Han­zal for in­ter­fer­ence to exit the first pe­riod with a 1-0 lead. How­ever, Nashville took over in the sec­ond pe­riod and grabbed a 2-1 lead on the strength of two strong plays by 19-year-old rookie de­fense­man Sa­muel Gi­rard.

Gi­rard whipped a puck from dis­tance through traf­fic to tie the score and then put a huge shot on goal on the power play. Stars goalie Ben Bishop made the first save, but Filip Fors­berg scored on the re­bound.

It was a hec­tic punch in the

gut for the Stars and a huge boost for a Nashville team that had started the sea­son 1-2-0 and needed a re­sponse.

“It was not good enough. We’re not stick­ing to it for 60 min­utes,” Benn said. “We’re not play­ing hard enough. Good start, good first pe­riod, and they pretty much took over af­ter that.”

Benn said he has to do a bet­ter job lead­ing. “It starts with my­self. It’s not good enough.”

He added that the team has to be able to read the mo­men­tum, whether that’s play­ing through the chaos or just stand­ing up to an­other team’s charge.

“I think it’s just the mo- men­tum of the hockey game,” Benn said. “When the other team gets a goal or get mo­men­tum, we have to re­spond as a group. You can re­spond by ei­ther dig­ging in and play­ing harder or by back­ing right off, and tonight there was an ex­am­ple of that. They started to bring the pres­sure, and we just let them take it to us.”

The Stars con­tinue to get shots on goal, as each team fin­ished with 31, but they can’t score goals.

“I’m con­cerned that we’re miss­ing a num­ber of glo­ri­ous op­por­tu­ni­ties and we’re let­ting the other goalie out­work us,” Hitch­cock said. “We’ve got three games now where we’ve made the goalie the first star, and we need to fig­ure that out quick.”

They also need to fig­ure out whether Han­zal will be sus­pended for his hit on Nashville de­fense­man Yan­nick We­ber. Han­zal caught We­ber in the face with a shoul­der as We­ber was reach­ing for a puck, and he re­ceived a five-minute ma­jor.

The league can study the play for sup­ple­men­tary dis­ci­pline.

“I thought it was a good hit,” Hitch­cock said.

Han­zal added: “I didn’t see it, so I don’t know. I thought he had the puck, so I just fin­ished it. I didn’t raise my el­bow.”

What Han­zal does know is the team can’t con­tinue like this.

“We’ve lost three games out of four and we need to start win­ning games, and that’s all that mat­ters,” he said.

Mark Humphrey/the As­so­ci­ated Press

Nashville Preda­tors left wing Filip Fors­berg (cen­ter) bat­tles Stars wingers Brett Ritchie (left) and Remi Elie in the sec­ond pe­riod.

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