1. Road state of mind
John Klingberg said something interesting Monday morning in describing how important this road trip was in general, and specifically, getting off to a good start against Carolina, when he suggested that a road game shouldn't be all that different than a home game.
But as the Stars fell to 3-6-0 on the road with one of their most disheartening performances of the season, it suggests that there is a large mental part now coming into play for the Stars when they face the least little bit of adversity on the road.
On this night, they entered the third period tied at one goal apiece and then gave up an early power-play goal after a Stephen Johns hit-to-the-head penalty, and they crumbled.
"It's frustrating," said netminder Ben Bishop, who was solid through two periods stopping 18 of 19 before allowing four goals on nine third-period shots, including the fifth goal with 2.6 seconds left in the game.
"We're right in the game, it's 1-1 going into the third period, 20 minutes on the road -- and then we come out with that performance in the third period where they get one a power-play goal, 2-1. And instead of responding there, we ended up kind of folding."
Captain Jamie Benn suggested the team "laid an egg" in the third period.
"It's embarrassing, and there needs to be some changes around here, and it starts with myself, and we have to figure it out as a team," said Benn, who had an assist on the team's only goal, a power-play marker in the second period by Alexander Radulov that extended his point streak to eight games.
On a sober second thought, 'laid an egg' pretty much sums it up.
Video: Stars can't find offense in Carolina
2. No longer an accident but the norm
Sure, the season is still young. And the Stars are now 9-8-0.
Kind of 'meh' but not dire.
But when does it start to get late? Pretty quickly, if this is how the team is going to continue to play away from American Airlines Center.
"This is more the norm than it is an accident," Hitchcock said. "This is not an accident. It's a lot easier to play at home than it is on the road, and if we're going to get to another level, we're going to have to play a much firmer game on the road."
The coach was especially disappointed in the manner in which they were beaten -- outworked by a team that is not known as a physically-imposing squad.
"We got beat off the boards," Hitchcock said. "They took the puck off the boards, they outplayed us in the third period. The game was an even game after two periods, right where we wanted it, and they dialed it up and we did not answer the bell."
The interesting thing is that earlier in the day, Hitchcock had suggested the team looked like it was ready to turn a corner, to play with the maturity necessary to win on the road, and thus, become a better, maybe even elite team.
Just wasn't so against a Carolina team that entered the game struggling to play consistent, winning hockey. But when the time came to answer the bell, it was Carolina that did just that as Teuvo Teravainen recorded the natural hat-trick with three in the third and Jordan Staal was dominant with four assists.
"It's disappointing. It's really disappointing," Hitchcock said. "We had the game right there and we cracked. Bottom line is we were in a great position on the road -- exactly where you want to be, and we were the ones that made the mistakes."
Video: Road struggles continue for the Stars
3. Rough night for Klingberg
We suggested in our preview that this game, and indeed this road trip, was an important test for Klingberg, especially in the absence of veteran Marc Methot, who is a calming presence but is out with a lower-body injury.
Klingberg was dominant in Friday's win, and not just because he had a goal and two assists, but because of his overall play and leadership.
Monday? Not so much.
Klingberg had a disastrous night, finishing minus-3 and making misplays on three goals, getting caught up ice twice and then losing the puck on the Hurricanes' fourth goal.
On the third goal -- the obe that really spelled doom for the Stars -- Klingberg was late getting back in the play and then managed to screen Bishop on a Teravainen shot that made it 3-1 just over three minutes after the 'Canes had taken a 2-1 lead.
"Yeah, it starts with me on the back end, and I had a rough game, for sure," said Klingberg, who leads all NHL defensemen with 18 points. "I've got to be better (Tuesday)."
Video: DAL@CAR: Radulov rips home PPG, extends point streak
4. Don't forget, learn
There was a consensus among the players that getting back on the horse in less than 24 hours against the Florida Panthers in Sunrise is probably a good thing.
"I guess the best part is we get to play tomorrow," said Bishop, who will almost certainly give way to backup Kari Lehtonen and then get the start Thursday in Tampa for the finale of this three-game southeast swing.
"We can respond and get a chance to kind of get over this. Nobody's happy in here right now."
But the logic only holds if there's a meaningful change in how the team plays. '
The good news is that earlier when the team blew a third-period lead against Edmonton, they responded with a gritty road win in Calgary the next night. But each step back makes those kinds of rebounds even more difficult, even if Florida is a team with its own issues of consistency.
"There's glimpses of turning these road woes around, but we come out and play like that in the third not much is going to change," Benn said. "It's just unacceptable and it starts with myself, and then we've got to figure it out as a group."
We sometimes suggest that teams need to have short memories. Hitchcock said he's not interested in having his team forget this debacle.
"I don't want to put it behind us. I want us to remember this and I want us to grow from it," the coach said.
Video: DAL@CAR: Bishop turns aside Skinner's backhand
5. More soggy than sharp
This was a night of a thousand (give or take) missed passes and failed offensive plays for the Stars, who had 26 shots on the night but few of a dangerous nature.
Credit Carolina for a structured team defense that gave up little in terms of odd-man rushes and sustained pressure.
What kind of night was it? Trailing 4-1 in the third, Tyler Seguin couldn't get his stick on a puck at the edge of the crease with netminder Scott Darling down and out. But if the idea in splitting up Benn and Seguin (they played together some in the third period with the game slipping out of reach) was to help kickstart the offense, up and down the lineup Monday was a sobering reminder that this is a process, and apparently, we're pretty early in it.
"I feel like we don't play with the puck as good as we do at home," Klingberg said. "We threw it away a little bit too much. Chasing the puck around a lot."
This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. You can follow Scott on Twitter @OvertimeScottB, and listen to his Burnside Chats podcast here.