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Home Woes Continue as Stars Fall to Wild, 2-1

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The home woes continue for the Dallas Stars. The Stars’ winless streak at American Airlines Center hit six games (0-4-2) with a 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild Saturday afternoon.

The Stars are now 1-4-4 at home. It’s the worst home mark in the Western Conference and the third worst in the league based on points percentage.

“We have to be mentally prepared to play these games at home,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “We have no excuses. We have to be better.”

“Our biggest issue has been here at home, where we've beat ourselves,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff, whose team is 6-7-4 overall this season.

The Stars played a strong game late into the second period, had a 1-0 lead and weren’t giving the Wild much in the way of opportunities. But a turnover late in the second led to Minnesota tying the game and gave the Wild life.

“We were dominating the game until that point,” Ruff said. “We hadn’t been giving up anything.”

The Wild then scored early in the third to take a 2-1 lead they would never relinquish. The Stars fell to 2-4-1 when tied after two periods.

Darcy Kuemper stopped 27 of 28 shots for the Wild, who improved to 9-7-0 on the season and snapped a three-game road losing streak.

“We knew we had to bear down,” said Wild defenseman Ryan Suter. “We weren’t good enough on the road, so for us to come in here, we kind of changed our mindset where it doesn’t have to be pretty, just simple, and we have to outwork them if we want to even have a chance.”

After a scoreless first period in which the Stars outshot the Wild, 8-6, the Stars opened the scoring 5:34 into the second period. After a Vernon Fiddler wrap-around attempt, Antoine Roussel knocked home the rebound from the left circle to put the Stars up 1-0.

“There was sort of a wrap-around and it bounced right to my stick,” Roussel said. “I was there at the right at time, right moment, and I was able to put it in the back of the net.”

The Wild drew even late in the second. Ryan Carter picked off a pass by Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon in the Minnesota zone setting up an odd-man rush, and Erik Haula finished it off, tying the game 1-1 with 4:19 left in the period.

“We needed a little spark,” Haula said. “Luckily we got that goal and we were able to put a couple of good shifts together in the second period there that kept us going.”

That goal gave some life to the Wild, who kept up the pressure the rest of the second and then scored 40 seconds into the third period to take a 2-1 lead. Charlie Coyle put a shot on net off the rush and Mikael Granlund scored off the rebound.

Kuemper and the Wild closed the door after that and handed the Stars another home loss and another loss against a key divisional and conference opponent. The Stars are now 0-4-2 vs. the Central Division and 3-6-3 vs. the Western Conference.

"It's always frustrating to lose,” Roussel said. “We want to win, but they're straight conference affairs, so it's a four-point game every game against them, and it's heartbreaking to lose like that."

Stars players getting booster shots

*Dallas Stars players were scheduled to get vaccination booster shots today due to cases of the mumps popping up around the league. Anaheim’s Corey Perry and Francois Beauchemin both were diagnosed with mumps. Minnesota’s Jonas Brodin and Marco Scandella are out due to illness and mumps is suspected.

“We’ve talked about it, and players will be getting a booster vaccination today,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “It’s a concern around the league.”

*Defenseman John Klingberg, playing in his third NHL game, led the Stars in ice time with 25:29 on Saturday.

“I thought he was real good again. Simple as that,” Ruff said. “The shots against are going down. He's made some great outlet passes. Our problems here were we weren't getting out of our zone clean. Now we're getting out of our zone clean, and he's been, especially these last couple games, been a big reason why. I know it looks like I'm putting a lot on his plate, but I think his play has warranted it.”

*Ales Hemsky returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch for Thursday’s game in Los Angeles. Hemsky picked up an assist on the Stars’ only goal in the game. It was Hemsky’s second point of the season and his first since opening night against Chicago.

"Better,” Ruff said of Hemsky’s play. “We had some guys that didn't skate as well coming back from the trip, so I shortened it up a little bit. I was hoping to get a little bit of life. But I thought he was better."

Notes

*The Stars outshot the Wild 28-22.

*Ryan Garbutt led the Stars with five shots on goal.

*Minnesota blocked 28 shots in the game. Defenseman Jared Spurgeon led the way with seven blocked shots.

*Antoine Roussel scored his fifth goal of the season. That ties him for second on the team with Jamie Benn and Trevor Daley.

*The Stars were 0-2 on the power play and 1-1 on the penalty kill. The Stars are 10-10 on the penalty kill over the past three games.

*The Stars won 29 of 56 faceoffs (52 percent).

*Vernon Fiddler won 8 of 13 faceoffs (62 percent). Jason Spezza won 6 of 10 (60 percent). Cody Eakin won 7 of 12 (58 percent). Jamie Benn won 5 of 8 (63 percent).

Stars lineup

Jamie BennJason SpezzaTyler Seguin
Antoine RousselCody EakinRyan Garbutt
Curtis McKenzieVernon FiddlerAles Hemsky
Erik ColeShawn HorcoffColton Sceviour

Alex GoligoskiJohn Klingberg
Jordie BennTrevor Daley
Brenden DillonJamie Oleksiak

Kari Lehtonen
Anders Lindback

Scratched: Travis Moen, Kevin Connauton

Injured: Patrick Eaves (lower body), Valeri Nichushkin (hip/groin), Patrik Nemeth (arm)

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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