Even though the Dallas Stars are starting to play better, coach Dave Tippett wasn't particularly pleased with his team's latest effort.
Following a disappointing overtime loss, Tippett hopes the Stars turn in a better performance Tuesday night, when they visit a Toronto Maple Leafs team seeking its sixth win in seven contests.
Dallas (13-14-5) has resided at the bottom of the Pacific Division for much of the season, but is now within one point of fourth-place Los Angeles (32 points).
The Stars have started climbing out of the cellar by collecting at least a point in seven of their last 10 games (6-3-1). They were on the verge of securing their first three-game winning streak of 2008-09 before losing 5-4 in overtime at Ottawa on Saturday.
"We have people digging in hard, and we are right there, but we can't get over the hump," Tippett told the Stars' official Web site. "But we have to recognize we are letting points get away by shooting ourselves in the foot."
Tippett, though, has likely been encouraged by the play of third-year winger Loui Eriksson, who scored Saturday and has six goals in his last three games to help him earn honors as the NHL's first star of the week.
"Pucks are going in right now, but I would rather have the win," said Eriksson, who leads the Stars with 18 goals and is tied for second on the team with 26 points. "We gave up too may chances and we have to clean that up. We can't turn pucks over like we did, and we can't give up that many goals."
Marty Turco finished with 27 saves, but surrendered five goals for the second straight game to increase his goals-against average to a career-worst 3.33.
Turco, however, has been excellent while winning three of his last four starts against Toronto, posting a 1.25 GAA and a .941 save percentage in those outings.
He will need to be at the top of his game to contain a Maple Leafs team that has scored 26 times while winning five of its last six games.
In Monday's 6-2 victory at Atlanta, Matt Stajan had two goals and an assist and Nik Antropov had three assists to help goalie Justin Pogge win in his NHL debut. Pogge, recalled Sunday after playing 111 career games with Toronto of the AHL, finished with 19 saves for the Maple Leafs (14-13-6).
"We played really in well in front of him, but he made three or four saves that would have given (Atlanta) lots of momentum," Toronto coach Ron Wilson said.
It's unclear if Wilson will keep Pogge in the net or start veteran Curtis Joseph on Tuesday as top netminder Vesa Toskala continues to deal with a groin problem. Joseph has only made one appearance since a Nov. 25 loss to Atlanta.
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