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Banged Up Stars Fall to Avalanche, 4-1

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Missing four forwards and playing on the second night of a back-to-back, the Dallas Stars could never get on track in Denver Saturday night and fell, 4-1, to the Colorado Avalanche.

“I don’t think we had as much jump as we’ve had the last few weeks,” said Stars center Jason Spezza. “I thought we were a little bit flat as a group and then we get behind. Playing these back-to-backs it is tough when you get behind, you are chasing the game all night.”

The Stars fell behind 1-0 midway through the first and then 2-0 by early in the second period. It was too much of a deficit for the Stars to overcome.

“We knew we had to try to get the lead tonight and when we didn’t, I don’t think we had enough urgency in our game until the end,” said Spezza.

The Stars were without Tyler Seguin, Ales Hemsky and Patrick Eaves, who were all injured in Friday night’s win over Florida. Also out was Antoine Roussel, who was serving the second and final game of a suspension.

Jhonas Enroth, acquired from Buffalo on Wednesday, made his first start with the Stars. He stopped 26 of 30 shots.

“I was very excited to get to play with this new team,” Enroth said. “Obviously, the last couple of days have been pretty emotional for me and there’s been a lot of new stuff around here. I know that’s just an excuse right now, but I need to be better for the next couple of games.”

“I thought he played well,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said of Enroth. “There was nothing that went through him. A couple tough breaks. They had a little bit of puck luck when it came to pucks finding holes and going off bodies.”

The Stars (26-22-8) had a three-game winning streak snapped. They are now five points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

The Avalanche snapped a four-game losing streak and improved to 23-22-11 on the season. They are three points behind the Stars and eight points out of the final playoff spot in the West.

"It's a start,” said Colorado forward Jarome Iginla. “We know we need to put a real string together here and before we can do that we had to get back on the winning side. It was a good game for us, guys played well, guys played hard and we did a lot of things we wanted to do.”

Colorado took the lead at the 11:28 mark of the first. Nathan MacKinnon put a shot on net from the left circle that deflected off traffic and past Enroth. The Avalanche extended the lead to 2-0 early in the second period. About 15 seconds after Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov made a slick save on a Vernon Fiddler shot, Colorado forward Alex Tanguay tapped in the rebound of a Nate Guenin shot at 5:28 of the second period.

The Stars got the puck past Varlamov late in the second when Spezza batted the puck with his hand, and it deflected in off Colorado defenseman Brad Stuart. That’s not allowed under NHL rules, so it was no goal.

“A goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who bats or directs the puck with his hand into the net. A goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who bats or directs the puck and it is deflected into the net off any player, goalkeeper or official,” according to rule 67.6.

The Avalanche extended the lead to 3-0 at 3:28 of the third period when a Brad Stuart shot deflected off the leg of Iginla and past Enroth.

The Stars finally got on the board midway through the third period with the help of some creative coaching by Ruff. With the two teams playing four-on-four, Ruff pulled Enroth for an extra attacker and Jason Spezza scored off a wrist shot to make it a 3-1 game at the 9:58 mark.

“I just felt that to give us our best chance, it would give us a power-play look if I pulled him right then,” Ruff said. “I was banking on a five-on-four formation and look to score.”

But that was as close as the Stars got. Dennis Everberg scored from close range with 23 seconds remaining to make it a 4-1 final.

The Stars will return home, practice Monday and then head to St. Louis, where they will take on the Blues Tuesday.

Stars without Seguin and others

The Stars were without several key forwards for Saturdays’ game against Colorado. Tyler Seguin is expected to miss 3-6 weeks with a knee injury after getting hit low by Florida defenseman Dmitry Kulikov Friday night. He is on injured reserve.

Patrick Eaves, who was hit in the head with a puck Friday night, is out with a concussion. Tests revealed no fractures. Eaves is on injured reserve.

Ales Hemsky is out with a lower body injury suffered in Friday’s game. He underwent a procedure Saturday and could return early next week.

Stars forward Antoine Roussel served the final game of his two-game suspension for cross-checking Boston’s Adam McQuaid. He is eligible to return Tuesday in St. Louis.

Notes

*The Stars are 0-3-1 vs. Colorado this season.

*The Stars are 4-10-6 vs. the Central Division.

*The Stars are 2-5-1 in the second game of back-to-backs.

*Colorado outshot the Stars 30-25.

*Jamie Benn led the Stars with four shots on goal.

*The Stars were 0-3 on the power play and 1-1 on the penalty kill.

*Jason Spezza extended his points streak to five games (three goals, four assists).

*The Stars won 33 of 76 faceoffs (43 percent).

*Cody Eakin won 12 of 19 draws (63 percent). Jason Spezza won 8 of 21 (38 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 5 of 15 (33 percent). Travis Morin won 4 of 13 (31 percent).

*Alex Goligoski led the Stars with 25:11 of ice time. John Klingberg was next with 24:23.

*Stars defenseman Jason Demers picked up a roughing minor and ten-minute misconduct in the third period. Avalanche forward Cody McLeod picked up a fighting major and game misconduct at the same time. Earlier in the game, McLeod and Stars forward Curtis McKenzie dropped the gloves.

Stars lineup

Stars coach Lindy Ruff juggled things during the game, but here is how the Stars started the game.

Jamie BennCody EakinRyan Garbutt
Erik ColeJason SpezzaColton Sceviour
Shawn HorcoffVernon FiddlerBrett Ritchie
Curtis McKenzieTravis MorinTravis Moen

Alex GoligoskiJohn Klingberg
Jyrki JokipakkaTrevor Daley
Jordie BennJason Demers

Jhonas Enroth
Kari Lehtonen

Scratched: David Schlemko

Suspended: Antoine Roussel

Injured: Tyler Seguin (knee), Patrick Eaves (concussion), Ales Hemsky (lower body), Patrik Nemeth (arm), Valeri Nichushkin (hip)

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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