The Dallas Stars' December surge has come to a screeching halt.
Now, the Stars will be trying to snap their longest losing streak in more than four years as they host the Minnesota Wild on Monday.
Dallas (23-16-4) won eight of nine games from Dec. 10-Dec. 29, scoring 35 goals over that span, including 13 in the final two contests. Since then, however, the Stars have dropped four straight in regulation - their longest string of regulation defeats since losing five in a row Nov. 30-Dec. 10, 2003.
"Losing is frustrating, and that goes without saying," coach Dave Tippett told the Stars' official team Web site after Saturday's 3-0 loss to Detroit. "We're in a tough spot right now, and we need to keep pounding away and get out of this."
Dallas has been outscored 14-4 during its losing streak, including two shutouts in its last two home games. The Stars had not failed to score in consecutive home games since March 22 and 26, 1998, and have not been shut out in three straight home games since Dec. 29, 1972-Jan. 10, 1973.
Dallas has gone 0-for-14 on the power play during the losing streak, and could have trouble ending that streak against a Minnesota squad that hasn't allowed a man-advantage score in its last three games.
"Our power play isn't doing much lately, and we're not creating enough chances, which is frustrating," said Mike Ribeiro, who leads the Stars with 21 goals and 44 points. "If we even took advantage of one of those power play chances, it's a different game."
The third of Dallas' four straight defeats was a 6-3 loss in Minnesota (23-16-2) on Thursday. Martin Gaborik scored twice for the Wild.
However, Minnesota lost 8-3 in Dallas in the first meeting this season, the Stars' seventh straight home win in the series. Dallas has also earned a point in 10 straight home games against the Wild (8-0-1-1) and has scored at least four goals in the last five of those games.
"Monday will be a huge game for us, because we need to get out of this, and we're going up against a team that embarrassed us just a few days ago," forward Brenden Morrow said.
The Stars did get some good news Saturday when defenseman Sergei Zubov, who leads the team with 30 assists, returned after missing two games with a hand injury. However, Jere Lehtinen (abdominal injury), Philippe Boucher (shoulder) and Jussi Jokinen (leg) all sat out with injuries.
The Wild have won three of five, but lost 4-1 in Nashville on Saturday. Mark Parrish scored the lone goal for Minnesota, which has been held to two or fewer goals in 14 of its last 15 losses.
"We had maybe three or four guys that were not mentally ready to play," coach Jacques Lemaire said. "We had a couple of mistakes and they put pucks in the net. That gave the Predators momentum."