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Stars back home for second crack at Avalanche

by Steve Hunt

After a solid 6-3 win on Saturday at Winnipeg, the Dallas Stars headed into their game Monday with the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center looking to finish their three-game Central Division road trip on a high note.

However, the Stars were overwhelmed by the speed of the Avalanche, who lit the lamp four times in the middle frame, including a goal with three seconds left to make it 5-1 heading into the second intermission.

"I think just as a team, we kind of got away from our game there," said Stars rookie defenseman Kevin Connauton, who had his first NHL goal late in the first period. "We handed them some easy chances and they've got so much skill up front that if you're going to give them looks like that they're going to bury them."

Dallas kept up the fight in the third and did get a goal from Tyler Seguin, who had a goal and an assist in the game, to make it a 5-2 contest. However, the Avalanche answered to make it 6-2 when Tyson Barrie scored late in the period to make it a four-goal game yet again.

The Stars allowed five or more goals in a game for the seventh time in 32 games with five of those coming away from American Airlines Center.

But it wasn't all bad for Dallas. Connauton did pick up his first NHL goal late in the opening period, scoring on a tip-in 33 seconds before the first intermission to make it a tie game at 1-1.

Dallas also kept the Colorado power play off the score sheet, killing off all five Avalanche opportunities with the extra attacker, including a 5-on-3 in the final stages of the first period. However, on the other end of the special teams equation, the Stars were 0-for-5 with the man advantage.

Stars captain Jamie Benn didn't have much to say after this loss, one which left Dallas 1-2-0 on its three-game road trip through the Central Division. Besides the win Saturday over the Jets in Winnipeg, Dallas had started the trip by falling to Nashville in the Music City on Thursday.

"Pretty much us laying an egg," was how Benn summed up the loss. "They came out strong. They jumped all over us."

Dallas coach Lindy Ruff saw his club's second-period woes as coming from within.

"Well, I think some of it was self-inflicted. We were undisciplined tonight, took some bad penalties and that led to a little bit of energy for them. Every goal was the result of us turning the puck over," Ruff said.

And the already-thin Dallas defensive corps lost yet another member when Aaron Rome suffered a lower-body injury late in the first period and did not return, forcing the Stars to play the final 40 minutes with just five healthy defensemen.

Ruff offered an update on Rome after the loss and from his assessment, it sounds like Jordie Benn should be back in for Dallas alongside Sergei Gonchar in the rematch Tuesday at American Airlines Center.

"It's the same (injury) that he suffered in practice about 10 days ago and it looks like he's going to be out," Ruff said of Rome.

And with Rome out, the Stars, who have already lost veteran blueliners Trevor Daley and Stephane Robidas to injury in recent weeks, showed their inexperience, something the savvy and speedy Avalanche clearly took advantage of.

"We've got some young defensemen that are playing in some bigger places. I've got to get them in a better spot because we lost a guy early and some guys need to step up. A couple of them were just simple coverage plays that we let people go," Ruff said.

"Our defense were a step slow. They were a step slow in the coverage, they let go of the coverage."

But as is often the case in the NHL, redemption is only a day or two away. In the Stars' case, it could come as soon as Tuesday night in downtown Dallas.

Neither team held a morning skate Tuesday, but here is how the lineups could look:


Ryan O'Reilly -- Matt Duchene -- Nathan MacKinnon

Gabriel Landeskog -- Paul Stastny -- PA Parenteau

Jamie McGinn -- John Mitchell -- Maxime Talbot

Cody McLeod -- Marc-Andre Cliche -- Patrick Bordeleau

Erik Johnson -- Jan Hejda

Andre Benoit -- Cory Sarich

Nate Guenin -- Tyson Barrie

Jean-Sebastien Giguere

Semyon Varlamov

Scratched: Nick Holden, Brad Malone, Ryan Wilson

Injured: Alex Tanguay (knee, hip)


Jamie Benn -- Tyler Seguin -- Valeri Nichushkin

Erik Cole -- Cody Eakin -- Alex Chiasson

Ray Whitney -- Rich Peverley -- Ryan Garbutt

Antoine Roussel -- Shawn Horcoff -- Colton Sceviour

Alex Goligoski -- Brenden Dillon

Jordie Benn -- Sergei Gonchar

Kevin Connauton -- Jamie Oleksiak

Dan Ellis

Kari Lehtonen

Scratched: Dustin Jeffrey

Injured: Trevor Daley (lower body), Vernon Fiddler (upper body), Stephane Robidas (leg), Aaron Rome (lower body)

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