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'We've got to be better': Stars lose to Leafs as late push falls short

Despite a two-goal effort from Radulov, Dallas falls for the fourth time in its last six games

by Jeff Odom @jeffodom /

DALLAS -- Despite a pair of goals from Alexander Radulov and Denis Gurianov scoring for the second straight game, the Dallas Stars couldn't complete a spirited third-period push against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday, falling 5-3 at American Airlines Center.

Interim coach Rick Bowness chalked Dallas' fourth loss in six games up to one thing: Not paying attention to details.

"It shows you that if we don't think about our net first and we don't pay attention to details, then we're going to be giving up goals that we shouldn't give up," he said. "We gave them three goals in our minds, and them being a highly-skilled team, they're going to make plays.


[MIKE HEIKA: Sloppiness costs Stars in loss to Maple Leafs]


"We can live with some of that stuff, but some of those other goals, it's on us for not paying attention to details and not being committed to keeping the puck out of our net."

The Stars, who never led in the contest and dropped to 28-18-4 overall, allowed Toronto's Auston Matthews to score the game's opening goal -- his 36th of the season -- finishing a cross-ice feed from Mitch Marner at 12:18 in the first period.

Gurianov quickly responded for the Stars to tie it with 2:39 left, gashing Toronto's blue line for a highlight-reel goal -- his 13th of the season.

Video: TOR@DAL: Gurianov splits defenders for pretty goal

"His speed is obvious, he can make plays at top speed," Bowness said of his rookie winger, who played 17:48 -- the third-most minutes of any Dallas forward in the game behind Tyler Seguin and Radulov. 

"A lot of guys, with that top speed, have to slow down a little when they try to make a player get a shot off, so that's a great skill. He has great speed. It's his first full year and he'll just keep getting better."

Zach Hyman beat the Stars' defense to make it 2-1 early in the second, and Tyson Barrie turned a Jamie Oleksiak turnover into a slap shot that got past Ben Bishop at the 11:58 mark. But Radulov trimmed the deficit to one with a nice wrister in the final minute of the frame.

Video: TOR@DAL: Radulov fires wrist shot by Andersen

"(Radek) Faksa made a good pass," Radulov said of his first goal. "On the second one, (Mattias) Janmark did a good job on the forecheck, and I just tried to get in front of the net and be there. It went in and so it's good."

William Nylander netted his 24th of the season at the 3:28 mark of the third to extend the Maple Leafs' advantage to two.

Despite Radulov's second goal of the game at 6:26, deflecting a shot by Miro Heiskanen, and a late power-play opportunity, Frederik Andersen and the Maple Leafs staved off the Stars. Andreas Johnsson's empty-netter sealed it with 2.9 seconds remaining.

Video: TOR@DAL: Radulov deflects in second goal

"I think we had enough chances to score, but at the same time, we can't give them as many chances as we gave them today," Radulov said. "They're a good offensive team and we all know that. They showed it again today. It's not the way we want to end the game, but we'll turn the page and get ready for the road trip.

"It's huge. We need the points and we've got to be better."


Bowness: Johns' healthy scratch 'all part of his process'

Stephen Johns was a healthy scratch from the Stars' lineup as veteran Andrej Sekera returned after being scratched in Monday's victory over the Lightning.

Bowness said the decision to sit Johns against Toronto was part of the team's plan for easing him back into game action after the defenseman missed 22 months because of post-traumatic headaches. Johns is expected to play in at least two of Dallas' three upcoming road games at the Devils, Rangers and Islanders.

"This is all part of his process; he's not going to play every night," Bowness said of Johns, who skated in warmup with the Stars before the game. "We gave him a couple of games and now he took a breather, so we'll probably get him into two of the three this weekend then we'll just gradually keep him going.

"This is all part of it, we weren't planning on playing him every night."

In two games since his return from injury, Johns has four shots on goal and a minus-1 rating.

Video: TOR@DAL: Bowness wants better details from Stars


Fast facts
  • The Stars welcomed Jason Spezza back to American Airlines Center with a first-period video tribute and standing ovation. Spezza, who spent five seasons in Dallas before signing a one-year contract with the Maple Leafs as an unrestricted free agent last summer, stood and acknowledged the crowd.

Tweet from @DallasStars: Thanks for everything you did in Victory Green, Spezz. #TORvsDAL | #GoStars

  • With his goal, Gurianov now shares first among all NHL rookies with 10 on home ice this season.

  • John Klingberg picked up a helper on Gurianov's marker to move past Gordie Roberts for fourth on the franchise's all-time list of assists by defensemen with 225.

  • Dallas finished 0-for-3 with the man advantage and is 0-for-12 over its past four games. The Stars were 2-for-2 on the penalty kill.

  • The Stars wore their "fauxback" Winter Classic uniforms against the Maple Leafs and will do so again on Feb. 21 when they face the Blues.

Video: TOR@DAL: Lindell discusses Stars' loss to Maple Leafs


They said it

"I've played injured before and I don't think it's going to be my last game injured. I've been playing through it, and that's what you have at this time of year. You have to play through it when you have small injuries and things that you can get through it as a team. I figured in warmup or morning skate I'd be able to play."

-- Stars forward Andrew Cogliano, who was a game-time decision after leaving Monday's game with a lower-body injury

Video: TOR@DAL: Cogliano says Stars weren't detailed in loss

"It's frustrating, obviously. There was stretch where we were scoring every game, and everything seemed to work well. Teams are coming and adjusting. I think we've just got to come back to that routine and have all five guys working harder than the (penalty kill) guys and we will be in good shape. We just need to watch some videos, regroup, and go from there. Simplify the game on the power play and just try to put the puck on the net and battle in that area. That's the bottom line."

-- Radulov on the Stars' recent power-play struggles


Up next

The Stars head on the road for a three-game trip through the Northeast, beginning Saturday against the Devils (18-24-7) at 6 p.m. on FOX Sports Southwest PLUS. Dallas blanked New Jersey 2-0 in its only meeting of the season on Dec. 10 at American Airlines Center.

Video: DAL Recap: Radulov scores twice in 5-3 loss

Don't miss your chance to see the Stars take on the Minnesota Wild when they return home to American Airlines Center on Friday, Feb. 7 at 7:30 p.m. Get your tickets now!

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Jeff Odom is the manager of and writes about the Stars/NHL. Follow him on Twitter @jeffodom.

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