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Stars 'running out of patience' as shootout loss overshadows positives

Pavelski's tying goal in the final minute salvages a needed point for Dallas, which is winless in its last five games

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

DALLAS -- If you're really searching for silver linings, Dallas does have a few here and there.

While the Stars are winless in their first four games of an eight-game homestand, they do have three points from losses in overtime or the shootout, so there's that.

And on Saturday, defenseman Miro Heiskanen made a miraculous play to prevent an empty-net goal and help set up Joe Pavelski's tying shot in the final minute of regulation.

So there's that, as well.

But the problem with looking for silver linings is that you probably are ignoring some pretty tattered outerwear.

In a 4-3 shootout loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, the Stars failed to take advantage of their good scoring chances, continued to have awful penalty killing, and simply allowed too many mistakes at crucial moments.

It was a continuation of the frustration that has the Stars with one win in their past eight games, but an extra four points from getting past regulation.

Video: Bowness says Stars 'giving away points' after SO loss

"Did we play well enough to win that game? Yeah. Are we throwing points away? Yeah, we are. That's very obvious," Stars coach Rick Bowness said. "We're not getting outplayed, we're outplaying teams and giving away points. That has to correct itself here. We're going to need more from everyone to make that balance swing in our favor."

As a result, Dallas falls to 5-3-4 while Carolina jumps to 9-3-0. In the four games the two teams have played against one another this season, the Hurricanes have eight points and the Stars have two. That six-point difference in the Central Division standings has Carolina in third place and Dallas in sixth.

That's especially frustrating, because the Stars have not been bad in most of these games. Dallas had a good start Saturday, scored the first goal and looked to be in control of the game. However, Carolina took advantage of a breakdown in the Stars' defense to tie the game at the 17:29 mark of the second period, and then worked to earn a power play 24 seconds later.

Just after the power play expired, Stars forward Justin Dowling made a bad read at the point, and Carolina was able to score with 6.5 seconds left in the second period.

"It's dumb mistakes, it's stupid mistakes, it's as simple as that," Bowness said. "Even though their second goal wasn't a power play, it should count as one. We're running out to the point and we never do that. The third goal we never run behind the net and let that puck come out, that's not us. That's making a mental mistake. 

"It's as plain and simple as that, it's a mental mistake by the players on the ice and it's got to stop."

The Stars allowed a power-play goal two minutes into the third period when defensemen Andrej Sekera and Esa Lindell both went behind the net, leaving the front open for a Jordan Staal one-timer. It was the ninth power-play goal allowed by the Stars in the past eight games. Dallas now sits 19th in the league in penalty-kill success at 78.0 percent. That's below the bar the team has set for itself.

Video: DAL Recap: Stars late push falls short in shootout

"I think, obviously, the special teams needs to get better," said defenseman John Klingberg. "I'm on the power play and Carolina has done a good job in the four games we've played them, and we've got to find a way to get momentum and score against them. Our penalty kill would probably like to get a few goals back, as well. That's a big part of hockey nowadays, special teams, but I think that we need to create and spend more time in their zone during 5-on-5s. That's how you draw penalties, and I feel like we should play a little bit more with the puck."

That's part of the problem with a slump, though -- all the bad things stand out and any of the good things seem to get washed away. Roope Hintz had another great game, setting up Jason Robertson for a beautiful third-period goal. And Heiskanen made one of the greatest plays of the year, preventing an empty-net goal and pushing the puck up ice so that Pavelski could tie things up.

"We don't get that play without Miro," Bowness said. "He didn't get an assist or anything, but it shows his attitude. He never quits on a play and that's a perfect example of it. We don't get that point without him."

It was a huge consolation on a night that could have been really depressing.

"Miro made an unbelievable play," Pavelski said. "As we're all coming back, working, you're hoping for that opportunity. He read the play and knocks the puck away. We were able to get on the rush and make a shot to tie it up. We were talking all night that we've got to find a way tonight. We go down two in the third and there was no quit. We found a way to keep giving ourselves a chance."

It was a silver lining, for sure. It's just that when the Stars continue this homestand on Monday against Nashville, they'd sure like a silver outer coating in the form of a win.

"We're running out of patience," Bowness said. "We're not playing poorly, we're not. But we're not capitalizing on chances that we get. Give the guys credit because we fought back. We'll take the point, and again we didn't lose the game we just lost the extra point on the shootout, which is disappointing. But we've got to stop putting ourselves in that position where we're losing points."

 

Up next

vs. Predators; Monday 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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