DALLAS — It looked pretty good for a while Saturday. Kiefer Sherwood scored his first NHL goal, Isac Lundestrom recorded his first assist and Sam Steel got his first assist, and the Junior Ducks helped to build what sure looked like a comfortable three-goal lead over the Dallas Stars.
The kids were better than all right.
Then things went haywire.
The Ducks couldn’t protect their lead, couldn’t defend their end of the ice and couldn’t come to the aid of goaltender John Gibson, who was suddenly under siege. The Stars scored four times in an electric 6-1/2-minute span late in the second period and the Ducks fell with a thud 5-3.
Alexander Radulov (power play), Connor Carrick, Jamie Benn and John Klingberg (power play) scored for Dallas in a frenzied stretch of play. The Stars would end the second period by outshooting the Ducks by an astounding 30-4 (and by 51-25 by game’s end).
Radek Faksa added an empty-net goal for the Stars in the final minutes.
“There’s not much to say,” Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler said. “It was awful. We didn’t make any plays with the puck. This is collectively as a team, it wasn’t just one person. We were scrambling. Our (defensive) zone coverage was all over the place.
“When situations get going like that and teams have momentum, you have to take the extra second to make the right play and the hard play, so you can get on the forecheck and make changes and we didn’t do that. We slapped the puck all over the place.”
Gibson and the Ducks hadn’t given up more than two goals in the run of play in their first four games of the season, going 3-0-1. Gibson was sharp from the start against the Stars, but had zero chance to stop Radulov’s rising shot from the left circle at 11:14 of the second period.
Suddenly, the Ducks were unable to clear the puck, let alone generate sustained pressure in the attacking end of the ice. They hadn’t exactly dictated play to that point, but capitalized on three excellent scoring opportunities and held a 3-0 lead midway through the game.
Jakob Silfverberg scored 9:01 into the contest, taking advantage of Max Comtois’ screen of goalie Anton Khudobin. Sherwood’s deflection of Josh Manson’s perimeter shot made it 2-0 at 13:28 of the first. Adam Henrique extended it to 3-0 with a power-play goal at 8:09 of the second.
Dallas would soon take control of the game, erasing the Ducks’ lead in a span of only 6:30.
Coach Randy Carlyle replaced Gibson with Ryan Miller to start the third period, a move of mercy designed to prevent Gibson from enduring further assault. Additionally, Carter Rowney suffered an upper-body injury in the first period and was questionable to return to the game.
Carlyle could give Miller his first start of the season Sunday at St. Louis.
Or he could come back with Gibson.
“He’s a huge part of this team,” Henrique said of Gibson. “You never want to let a teammate down and we left him out to dry, bottom line. He made some huge saves and that just kept us in it, really, and gave us an opportunity to get a point or come out with a win.
“We rely on him, but we can’t rely on him that much.”
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