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Khudobin's 'best game' goes to waste as rough second period costs Stars

Veteran netminder gives Dallas chance for tying goal late with 49 saves, but winless skid hits six games

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

The Stars rewrote a few records -- but that wasn't a particularly good thing Monday night.

Dallas allowed a franchise record 29 shots against in the second period, while goalie Anton Khudobin faced a career-high 51 shots in a 3-1 loss to the Florida Panthers. Defenseman John Klingberg added his first career fight, as the Stars were scrambling for much of the game and looked a little in over their head.

"Our young players were overwhelmed and our veterans didn't make a difference," said Stars coach Rick Bowness.

Video: Bowness on rough second period in loss to Panthers

Bowness said the Stars could have lost 8-1 if not for the strong play of Khudobin, who stopped 49 of 51 shots and allowed the Stars to pull the goalie late in an attempt to tie the game. It was a huge statement for the 34-year-old who had been struggling in previous starts, but came out of a long break with a fantastic outing.

"We wasted a great goaltending performance," Bowness said. "I feel bad for Anton, that's the best game he's given us all year."

It's been a weird year for the Stars, and this definitely was an odd game. Dallas had the first four games of the season postponed by a COVID outbreak, but then came out and won four in a row. They have been struggling lately at 1-3-4 and were sidelined for a week because of the icy weather in Texas.

Video: Khudobin's 49-save effort not enough in Stars' loss

So after several days of practice and the trip to Florida, Bowness stressed that the team needed to be good early to shake the rust off and get back into "game mode." Ironically, the Stars did just that, taking a 1-0 lead on a Blake Comeau rebound goal and basically exchanging punches with the talented Panthers for the first 20 minutes.

However, that all fell apart in the second period. Both teams had the long change, and while the Stars typically take advantage of that, they got trapped in their own end and simply couldn't get out.

"It just felt like it snowballed out of control," said Comeau.

Video: DAL@FLA: Comeau jams home rebound for opening goal

"We got the puck to the red (line) and instead of making the right decisions, we were making the wrong ones," he added. "We tried to go east to west and they were picking them off, and then you defend for 30 to 40 seconds and you're tired and they come back at you and get a fresh line out, and we just couldn't break the cycle."

Florida had a 29-4 advantage in shots on goal in the second period and a 41-5 advantage in shot attempts. The 29 shots against in a period is a franchise record, beating the 26 shots on goal against the Minnesota North Stars that was established three times, most recently in 1987. It was a mind-boggling number, but Khudobin kept the game 1-1 until late in the period, when Florida scored an unassisted goal against the Dallas checking line of Comeau, Andrew Cogliano and Jason Dickinson.

"You look at that second goal," Bowness said. "We have our checking line on the ice, we're having a bad period, but we can get out of the period 1-1. And all of the sudden, we're giving up an odd-man rush because three guys are behind the net."

Video: Klingberg: Second-period struggles 'not acceptable'

It was just one more moment of frustration for Bowness, because the Stars had time to work on details during their down time. Bowness said he wouldn't use the time off as an excuse.

"Were we rusty? Yep," he said. "But if we had played the whole game the way we did in the first, where we thought we'd be rusty, we'd have been fine. But in the second period, we just kept passing the puck to them, and they're a good team. A lot of it was self-inflicted problems."

So now the Stars have to take their day off and fix a few things. They play at Florida Wednesday and Thursday and then head to Tampa Bay on Saturday and Monday. Because they have had eight games postponed, Dallas has played fewer games than any team in the NHL. What's more, they currently sit 5-4-4 and are in an 0-3-3 slump.

Video: DAL@FLA: Khudobin makes a sprawling save on Duclair

Meanwhile, Florida is off to a 12-3-2 start, and Central Division rivals Carolina (12-4-1) and Tampa Bay (11-4-1) are joining the Panthers in running away with the first three playoff spots.

So now the Stars have to push hard to make up the games in hand - and they also have to find a way to win them.

"I think all of us know what went wrong, we've got to take some ownership within ourselves," Comeau said. "It just seems we have certain pieces of our game that are fragmented right now, and we've got to figure out a way to turn that around."

 

Up next

at Panthers; Wednesday 4 p.m. CT

BB&T Center, Sunrise, Fla.

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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