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Stars refocus after opening homestand with loss

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- After last Friday's 4-3 comeback win at the Vancouver Canucks, the Dallas Stars (8-7-1, 17 points) were riding high. Glen Gulutzan's club had taken two of three in a swing through Western Canada, and Dallas was now looking at the start of a three-game homestand Sunday against the Calgary Flames at American Airlines Center.

Dallas found another gear in that game; after trailing 1-0 at the first intermission it scored three unanswered. The Stars looked in control of the game with a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes of play. However, Calgary countered with three unanswered of their own and left the Lone Star State with two points thanks to a 4-3 win.

Gulutzan gave his players Monday off, but in practice the past two days, he and his staff have focused on the Stars' attention to detail and on cleaning up the various issues that led to that defeat.

"Our guys practiced hard these last two days. I can tell you from a year-and-a-half of being here, the practices we've had in the last two weeks have been high-tempo, hard practices," Gulutzan said. "The guys have went and competed hard, but we do need to clean up those details. We had a chance in this little break to address some of those things, and now we have to put what we've learned and saw, tonight we have to do it in games."

His players agree that in such a short season where practice time can often be at a premium, refocusing themselves on all those little things that can quickly add up into winning or losing games has been a big positive over the past few days.

"Details are what win and lose you games. We can get a lot better on our details," center Vernon Fiddler said. "We're giving up goals in front of the net. We're giving up goals when we're turning pucks over, little things like that we need to clean up. I think we did a really good job this week of doing that."

Wing Michael Ryder said, "Yeah, I think we kind of gave that game away a bit [against Calgary]. We just had to clean up a few things, talk about what happened, forget about it and get back on track against Vancouver. I think it's all about staying mentally with this. It's just such a short season and you play so many games that you kind of lose track sometimes of the little things that you do that gives you success on the ice."

After Sunday's disappointing setback to the Flames, Dallas' second loss to Calgary in a span of four days, Gulutzan was brief in his postgame remarks to the media, mainly because the second-year coach realized how important it is for his club to take every point they can at home, where the Stars are 3-2-1 so far this season.

"We had a good road trip but we need to make hay at home. We've got some home games tonight and Saturday and we need to make hay at home," Gulutzan said. "I like where we're going, but we've got to get on the ice, play with intensity and play with grit and heart like we did in Vancouver to get points."

Dallas will be without defenseman Trevor Daley. He suffered a neck injury in Sunday's loss and hasn't skated all week.

"He's still day-to-day. He's a no-go tonight. He didn't skate, so obviously that puts Saturday in a little bit of jeopardy," Gulutzan said.

With Daley unavailable, Alex Goligoski will move up from the third defensive pairing to skate alongside Aaron Rome, Daley's normal partner. The fourth pairing will now be Jordie Benn, the older brother of Stars center Jamie Benn who was recalled from the American Hockey League earlier this week, and Philip Larsen.

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