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'We have done this before': Stars know turnaround must start at home

As Dallas gets healthier, with injured Radulov skating ahead of Tuesday's game, the hope is positive results will soon follow

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

The Stars were finishing up their final two-day break of the season Monday and Stars coach Rick Bowness was looking forward to the rare good day of practice in this condensed schedule.

Then, even before drills started, a hard shot shattered the glass at the end of the rink, creating the possibility of a long delay and maybe even a hiccup in the timing or the energy of the workout.

But, as they have done so many times in the past two seasons, the Stars simply powered through the adversity and made the most of the situation.

"Nothing changes. You deal with what's presented in front of you," said Bowness with a soft chuckle. "You just deal with it and you move on."

The Stars will attempt to do that this week in what could be one of the most important of the season. Dallas is 6-6-4 and has won just twice in its past 11 games. It is coming off a 5-0 loss at Tampa on Saturday is getting ready for a six-game homestand. Included are four games against Chicago and Columbus, followed by another two games at the Blue Jackets.

With Dallas looking at a battle for fourth place with Chicago and Columbus, this could be a huge stretch.

Video: Bowness on loss to Lightning: 'We'll turn it around'

"We've got some home games, and we've got to turn this around now," Bowness said after the loss to the Lightning. "We don't have any more time. We've got to turn it around. Let's see if we can make this next 10-game segment a whole lot better than this (past) one."

In a lot of ways, facing the Lightning again is a good thing. The two teams tangled in the Stanley Cup Final last season, with Tampa Bay winning in six games. Now, with the Lightning as division rivals, there is a real measuring stick on the ice. Tampa Bay is 14-4-1 and playing great hockey, so an answer to Saturday's game is pretty important.

"We're a lot closer than the score indicated, I'll tell you that," Bowness said when asked about the difference between the Stars and Lightning. "The power play was an issue, as well was the penalty kill. Five-on-five, there wasn't a big difference in that game. Are we that far away from them? No. Do we have to perform in certain areas a lot better? Absolutely. We're better than that, we're better than the 5-0 loss for sure."

The Stars have actually had some solid numbers during this past stretch, but they find different ways to lose. Sometimes, it's the lack of converting golden scoring chances. Sometimes, it's bad goaltending. Sometimes, it's sketchy special teams play.

"It seems like every game is just something different, and we're not putting it together," forward Andrew Cogliano said. "It's not good enough, and we're not getting points. We have to figure it out in a hurry."

Tuesday would be a good start. The Stars looked good in practice Monday, and Roope Hintz seems to be doing well. The talented center has been in and out of the lineup with a lower body injury that he said has to be managed, but he feels like he's doing a good job of keeping himself ready. Hintz played 19:38 on Saturday.

Video: Cogliano says it's 'self-reflection time' for Stars

He said he's being optimistic and taking one game at a time.

"I think we just can't get frustrated now," Hintz said. "We have done this before, where we have a bad stretch and then we bounce back. We just can't get frustrated now, we just have to find it again and bounce back."

Injured forward Alexander Radulov was on the ice Monday, as well. And while he is expected to miss his 10th consecutive game Tuesday, just skating was a good sign.

"He skated well, and it's progress," Bowness said. "He's probably a ways away from playing, but at least he's on the ice with the guys and at least he can get through some of the practice."

And not unlike the broken glass, the Stars have to deal with one mess at a time. A crew of workers scrambled to sweep up the shards and replace the glass while the team tried to work through practice. Eventually, things were back to normal and the preparation for the week ahead commenced.

"We know how a good a team we are, and we need all 20 guys," defenseman John Klingberg said. "It has to come down to coming prepared and wanting to be a difference-maker out there. No matter what role you have, you've got to step up and be able to bring something to the team."

 

Stars vs. Lightning

Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. CT

American Airlines Center

TV: FOX Sports Southwest

Radio: The Ticket 96.7-FM, 1310-AM

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika, and listen to his podcast.

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