Their latest game featured another frustrating end in what's become a maddening month for the Dallas Stars. Now with five games left and a playoff spot not yet clinched, they're left searching for optimism.
The Stars will look to win for just the second time in 10 games on Saturday when they continue a four-game road trip against the Los Angeles Kings, owners of the worst record in the Western Conference.
Dallas (42-29-6) had lost seven of eight games in regulation heading into San Jose on Thursday, and though the Stars fell 3-2 in overtime, they did gain a point against the NHL's hottest team.
"We're going to take those positives," said goaltender Marty Turco, who's 1-7-1 with a 2.44 goals-against average in March. "We're committed as a group. We know this is it. They don't call this the playoffs, but this is for us."
Turco has played well even though his team has been struggling. The Stars' problems begin with their offense, which, since scoring seven goals against Chicago on Feb. 28, has put up just 17 goals in nine games - never scoring more than three.
A lack of power-play success has been one of the big reasons for the lack of goal scoring. Dallas is just 5-for-41 with the man advantage in its last nine, though it did get a goal and numerous other chances against the Sharks.
"I thought our power play was good and almost won the game for us," said center Mike Modano, who assisted on both goals. "We have to keep trying to build momentum and confidence and use this as building blocks for what's ahead."
One of Modano's assists came on a goal by Brenden Morrow, who scored his team-leading 30th of the season and reached that milestone for the first time in his career.
Morrow has three goals and five assists this season against the Kings (31-40-7) while Mike Ribeiro, who leads Dallas with 80 points, has four goals and seven assists, including a point in all seven meetings.
The Stars were less than four minutes from picking up a win last Saturday at home against Los Angeles, but the Kings scored three goals in less than two minutes to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 victory.
Including that win, Los Angeles is 3-0-1 in its last four games. It beat Phoenix 4-0 on Thursday behind 38 saves from Erik Ersberg, the rookie's second shutout in just his 10th NHL start.
"It feels great, I couldn't ask for much more," said Ersberg, who is 5-3-3 with a 1.97 GAA. "I think we played a great game defensively. I saw almost every shot and (the defense) was there on the rebounds too, so they helped me out a lot."
Center Anze Kopitar - who leads the Kings with 74 points - had a goal on Thursday, his 30th of the season and his first in his last eight games. Kopitar has three goals and an assist against Dallas this season.
Second-leading scorer Alexander Frolov hasn't scored in his last six games, but he has three goals and three assists against the Stars.
The Kings have won four of seven against Dallas this season, including all three games in Los Angeles.
|Mar 29 '08||DAL 7 at LAK 2||B. Morrow|
|Mar 22 '08||LAK 4 at DAL 2||L. Visnovsky|
|Jan 12 '08||DAL 3 at LAK 4 - SO||P. O'Sullivan|
|Dec 13 '07||LAK 1 at DAL 4||B. Morrow|
|Nov 19 '07||LAK 0 at DAL 3||S. Ott|
|Nov 10 '07||DAL 5 at LAK 6 - OT||A. Kopitar|
|Oct 25 '07||DAL 1 at LAK 2||A. Frolov|
|Oct 10 '07||LAK 1 at DAL 5||N. Hagman|