DALLAS - The Carolina Hurricanes mounted a furious comeback, but they fell 4-3 to the Dallas Stars in the final game of their four-game road trip.
Jeff Skinner netted two goals and Jordan Staal's second of the season brought the Canes within a goal, but that's as close as they would come.
Here are five takeaways from the last game of this road trip.
The Hurricanes mounted a comeback in this one, perhaps taking advantage of a Stars club that was content with the lead they had, but the hole was simply too large to climb out of.
"I think we've got to learn the lesson that you can't dig that deep of a hole. You've got to be ready to start. We need more guys ready to start from the drop of the first puck," head coach Bill Peters said. "I didn't think there was an emotional engagement to the game."
The Stars took a 2-0 lead to the locker room after 20 minutes of play. Jamie Benn opened the scoring at the 7:58 mark, as he crisscrossed with Alexander Radulov on a rush and then buried a scorching snap shot. Trevor van Riemsdyk and Brett Pesce, if facing that rush again, probably want to give two very talented wingers a little less room to work with. Late in the period, Tyler Pitlick went airborne to bat in a loose puck sitting in the crease and give the Stars a two-goal advantage.
That lead was stretched to three in the second period. Following the first Canes' power play of the game that didn't score but did generate some chances, Tyler Seguin hopped out of the box and scored on the breakaway. Pitlick scored his second of game when Antoine Roussel wiped out Noah Hanifin in the corner and centered to Pitlick for the quick bang-in.
"We were second to pucks a lot in the first two periods. When you're second to pucks, if you're not heavy and strong on them, it makes for a pretty easy game for the other team," Skinner said. "We weren't tough enough to play against and weren't quick enough to pucks, so that's a tough combination. They obviously have some skilled players who can capitalize on that."
Skinner remains the Hurricanes' most lethal offensive threat, and he's one of the league's hottest players right now. He scored his team-leading fourth and fifth goals of the season tonight to spark the Canes' comeback.
Video: CAR@DAL: Skinner finishes his own rebound in tight
With just 10 seconds remaining in the second period, a quick snap off the stick of Skinner got the Canes on the board and gave them some life.
"That gave us a little bit of life and a little belief," Peters said.
Skinner scored his second straight in the third period, batting the puck out of midair at the top of the crease and tapping it in. Dallas challenged on the basis of goaltender interference, but there was none to be had.
Video: CAR@DAL: Skinner slips the rebound by Bishop
"Skinny can score. He can change games. That's what he does best," Staal said. "Tonight was no different. He gave us a spark and got us going a bit."
Dating back to last March of last season, Skinner has scored 22 goals in his last 25 games.
"He's been dangerous for a long time now. He's a dangerous guy," Peters said. "He gets the puck in good spots and works hard in the offensive zone. He's getting rewarded for that right now."
Part of what allowed the Hurricanes to work their way back into this game was simply getting back to the way they want to play hockey. The start wasn't good enough. That much was evident. Down three goals heading into the third period, the Hurricanes wanted to rediscover what makes them successful. If they weren't coming away with points, they were at least taking away a good effort in the final 20 minutes.
"We just wanted to play the hockey we know we can play in the third, just get back to playing the way we could and take some positives. We came close, but you're not going to win games with that start," Staal said. "It was just working. Working hard but working smart, as well. We made too many mistakes early, and they maybe sat back more in the third so we had more time with the puck, started making plays and doing some better things."
Video: CAR@DAL: Staal brings Canes within one goal in 3rd
"Just work for each other and work hard. Down 4-1 going into the third period, it's obviously a big hill to climb. You're not going to make it up in one shift," Skinner said. "For us, it was just getting back to winning each shift, coming out with a good start and building from there."
The Hurricanes head home with four out of a possible eight points (2-2-0) on this road trip. There was some good - though a bit loose, the offensive broke out in Edmonton, and then the team played a rather complete 60 minutes in a 2-1 win in Calgary - and some bad - namely, the start to tonight's game.
But it's still early in the 2017-18 season, and there remains plenty of room for growth and improvement.
"We would have liked to get more points, obviously, but there are some positives as well. We're going to continue to build and grow," Staal said. "Execution is getting a little better, but there's still some work to be had. We still haven't played our complete game yet and really haven't skated as well as we can, especially tonight."
"There's going to be different things from each game. We've got to realize how we have to play on a consistent basis," Peters said. "We're not going to be able to give up the types of opportunities we've given up. There's still too many freebies, really, too many easy goals against. We've got to get that figured out."
It's customary for the captains of both teams to participate in a ceremonial puck drop. Tonight was a little different, though.
In conjunction with the Dallas Stars' 25th Anniversary season, tonight was one of a collection of Reunion Nights, in which the team welcomed back players from its history. Brenden Morrow was tonight's featured Stars alum, and he requested defenseman Haydn Fleury represent the Canes at the ceremonial puck drop.
So, why a rookie defenseman in his sixth NHL game? As it turns out, the two are old family friends, and Morrow was Fleury's babysitter once upon a time in Carlyle, Saskatchewan.
Time to head home. The Canes will play their first game at PNC Area in two weeks on Tuesday when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning.