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'We just need to be better': Stars let lead, game slip away in Detroit

Despite two goals from Hintz, Dallas remains winless as penalties and mistakes add up in loss to Red Wings

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

DETROIT -- Hockey is an imperfect game played by imperfect teams, and the teams that win generally are the ones that find a way to make key plays in key moments.

Yes, goaltending plays a big part. Yes, officiating and luck can play a role. But Esa Lindell made a good point after St. Louis scored off a fluky bounce to beat the Stars Saturday. The Blues were the better team and created more chances, so they probably deserved to win.

 

[WATCH: All Stars vs. Red Wings highlights]

 

The Stars on Sunday had a bit of a repeat.

With the game on the line, the Detroit Red Wings made the big plays en route to a 4-3 victory, while the Stars made the big mistakes en route to an 0-3-0 start. It was an interesting display of grace under pressure versus pressure maybe being a little too much.

Video: Montgomery breaks down what cost Stars win in Detroit

The Red Wings scored 15 seconds into the final frame and then got the game-winner with 53.3 seconds remaining. Dallas also put Detroit on the power play three different times in the third period. There were things that clearly led to the win for Detroit and the loss for Dallas.

"I think there are key moments in the game in the third and you've got to go and grab it," said winger Mattias Janmark.

"On the power play, maybe we need to score one to grab a two-goal lead (earlier in the game). Maybe that first kill off of the second period, we need that kill so we don't give them energy at the start of the period. Small things like that."

The game was an intriguing study in momentum shifts.

Video: DAL@DET: Hintz wires home wrister on the rush

The Stars on Sunday came out and played extremely hard. They didn't want to go 0-3-0 to start the year. They wanted to show they could out-effort the opposition. And for the first 20 minutes, it really looked good. Miro Heiskanen fed Roope Hintz for a pretty rush goal, and then Tyler Seguin accomplished a similar feat pretty much on his own, as he burst up the left wing and picked the top corner.

It was the answer the Stars needed -- the display of this team's potential to be aggressive offensively and still smart defensively. It was a wonderful sign as they had a 2-0 lead an all of the momentum.

 

[PHOTOS: Scenes from Stars-Red Wings in Detroit]

 

But just as the first period was ending, John Klingberg took an ill-advised interference penalty with 16 seconds remaining. Klingberg was trying to prevent a hard forecheck, but he had to know that he had enough time to track back and just smother the play against the boards.

He made a bad choice, and the Red Wings started the second period with a power play. Anthony Mantha scored 48 seconds in to make it 2-1.

Video: Benn says Stars 'need to be better' after third loss

"You can't that the penalty at the end of the first. There's no reason to with the time on the clock," Stars coach Jim Montgomery said.

But no big deal, just a hiccup from a bad decision. Suck it up and keep playing your game and stretch out your one-goal lead.

The problem is the Stars didn't. They started to make more bad decisions, and the Red Wings gained momentum. Mantha scored on a pretty drive around Esa Lindell midway through the second period to tie the game and then tapped in a rebound to start the third.

Just like that, Detroit had a 3-2 lead in a game that Dallas seemed destined to control.

Video: DAL@DET: Seguin nets goal on great individual effort

So what happened?

That's something the Stars are going to have to investigate.

 

[RAZOR'S EMPORIUM: Daryl 'Razor' Reaugh recaps the loss and says the Stars were 'Mantha-ed' in Motown]

 

"The first shift in the third, that's unacceptable by my line there," said captain Jamie Benn. "You can't start a period when you're trying to win a game giving them a goal."

Just like you can't give the opposition eight power plays in a game. Just like you can't get outplayed by the Blues when you take a 2-1 lead into the third period. Just like you can't fire 16 shot on goal against the Bruins in the third period and come up empty there.

Video: Stars' Hintz on two-goal effort in loss to Red Wings

"We're in tight games and we're not a high-scoring team, so we're going to have to win these games, so of course it's frustrating," said Janmark of the fact all three games were winnable. "There's things we've got to do better to end up on the right side."

After the goal 15 seconds into the third period, the Stars tied the score on Hintz's second goal of the game -- this one coming 33 seconds later. It was a sign to Montgomery that his team could make big plays. Until the Red Wings made the ultimate big play with Mantha scoring his fourth goal on a hard one-timer of an offensive zone faceoff in the final minute of the game.

"It's frustrating," Montgomery said. "We made a big play to tie it up when they went ahead 3-2. It's disappointing to give up that goal on the faceoff. Credit to them, but it was poor execution by us."

Right now, the Stars are getting out-executed just enough to lose games. When that leaves you 0-3-0 for the first time since the team moved to Dallas, that's a bit of a wakeup call. They play at Washington on Tuesday, and the hill doesn't get any easier.

Video: DAL@DET: Hintz cleans up rebound in front to tie game

But the Stars have to keep perspective.

"I think we had four three-game losing streaks last year," Montgomery said. "You can overcome three-game losing streaks, we've just got to get better at our game management."

In a lot of areas. Whether it's starting games, starting periods, or finishing games, there's plenty of room for improvement.

"It's pretty self-explanatory where we're at right now," Benn said. "We just need to be better."

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.

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