COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Stars were better Wednesday.
Just not better enough.
Dallas created more scoring chances, spent more time in the offensive zone, and saw some bright spots from the return of Corey Perry and Denis Gurianov to the lineup, but still found a way to lose 3-2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
[MORE COVERAGE: Watch all Stars vs. Blue Jackets highlights | Best photos from game]
The Stars fell to 1-6-1 and are scoring less than two goals a night eight games into the season. And yet, this team has to believe it can dig its way out.
"It's frustrating right now, things aren't going the way we would like," said goalie Ben Bishop. "But as frustrated as we are right now, we still have 90 percent of the season left to fix this ship. But it's got to be more urgency from everybody from the start to the end. That's where we are right now."
Dallas has just three of its first 16 available points in the standings, and that is alarming. But, if it collects 87 points in the next 74 games, it would have the 90 points that Colorado needed last season to qualify for the playoffs in the Western Conference. That's a .587 points percentage, and it's doable.
That said, they need to get started pretty quickly.
Video: Montgomery: 'We'll keep fighting together' after loss
"We have a lot of games to win," said Stars coach Jim Montgomery. "We know the hole we're in and what's happened, but we also know we can string together a lot of wins like we did last year."
Montgomery decided to cancel practice on Tuesday to give his team fresher legs, and said he liked what he saw in improved energy. The Stars fired 32 shots on goal and had 56 shot attempts. It won 52 percent of its faceoffs.
"I thought we had an excellent first period, I thought we were skating, didn't love our puck management in the second, I thought in the third we were working, trying to tie it up and gave up too many odd man rushes," Montgomery said. "We didn't do it together enough, but there are a lot of positives from that game. The shot generation we had, the high-end chances that we had. We just have to keep building on those things."
Perry played his first game of the season. Signed as a free agent in the summer, Perry slipped on a step before the season and fractured a bone in his foot. The 34-year-old rehabbed and recovered and looked good in 13:55 in time on ice.
"I played him more than I envisioned, because he was really going," Montgomery said.
The Stars also recalled Gurianov from the AHL and played him 10:37. Montgomery liked the speed and creativity of Gurianov.
All of that said, Dallas still is struggling to finish plays and score goals. They have 15 in eight games and rank last in the league in goal-scoring.
Video: DAL@CBJ: Radulov, Heiskanen team up for goal
"The stats are the stats," Montgomery said. "We just have to keep putting pucks on net and we have to keep going to those dirty areas. Hopefully, a puck will go off someone's shoulder or knee sooner or later and people will start relaxing."
Currently, Tyler Seguin has two goals and an assist. Jamie Benn has one goal and one assist. And John Klingberg has one assist on the season. Joe Pavelski scored his first goal of the year as the team tried to rally with the goalie pulled, but Pavelski has just a goal and an assist in eight games.
The game followed the trend of a lot of recent games, as Dallas fell behind early and had to climb back.
Columbus had a couple of nice shifts in the offensive end, and that resulted in a 2-0 lead in the first period. Zach Werenski was allowed to stand in the right circle and waited for a pass from Gustav Nyquist before unleashing a one-timer that scored against the top line.
Then, Jamie Oleksiak tried to make a quick pass out of the zone after acquiring a puck in the defensive zone. Alexander Wennberg stole the puck from Oleksiak, skated to his left and snapped a shot past Bishop.
It was the sixth time in eight games the Stars have allowed the first goal of the game, and typically is a sign that they will lose the game.
But instead of crumbling after that start, Dallas rallied, and started to create more attack zone time and scoring chances. Gurianov drew a penalty for the Stars, and Alexander Radulov jumped off the bench on the delayed penalty to pick up a puck and feed Miro Heiskanen for his second goal of the year.
Video: Bishop tips hat to Milano on highlight-reel goal
Columbus came back in the second period and created more zone time and more scoring chances, but Bishop was up to the task. Then, in the third, Dallas was creating offense when Sonny Milano chipped a puck around Roope Hintz, broke in on Bishop and slipped a shot from between his legs over the should of the Stars goalie.
It was a dynamic play.
"It's a heck of a goal," Bishop said. "It's a really skilled play and he did a god job of just flipping it over my blocker You don't like to be on the other end of that, but sometimes you've just got to tip your hat. It's a pretty impressive goal."
So how can the Stars get some of those? Well, they believe they are on the right track. They have back-to-back games in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia Friday and Saturday, and they need to start banking some points before the numbers get too lopsided.
"I think it's going to start turning next game, that's when I think it's going to start turning into wins," Montgomery said. "We'll stick together and we'll keep fighting together."
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.