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Slow start dooms Stars in 4-2 loss to Ducks

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars came out flat after a long break between games and fell 4-2 to the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center Friday night.

The Stars, who hadn’t played since Saturday, fell behind 2-0 less than four minutes into the game and were down 4-0 by the end of the first period.

“[The Ducks] came out hard with a lot of desperation. Their compete was a lot better,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “We’ll win when we deserve to win. We didn’t deserve to win. Didn’t compete hard enough. They beat us up ice. We didn’t backcheck. The whole league is pretty well in playoff mode except for us.”

The loss was the fifth in the past six games (1-4-1) for the Stars, who have lost six straight on the road (0-4-2). With Chicago winning its 10th straight game Friday night in Toronto, the Stars (29-12-4) are now in second place in the Central Division, two points behind Chicago (30-13-4).

“These teams are just playing with desperation right now,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “Obviously [the Ducks] had a tough start and they're right back in it. Teams that are winning right now are the teams that want it more and are working harder.”

Benn and Mattias Janmark scored for Dallas. Kari Lehtonen got the start in goal and stopped 31 of 35 shots.

"It had nothing to do with our goalie,” Ruff said. “If it wasn't for our goalie, I think it could have been 7-0."

The Ducks (19-17-7) won for the third time in the past four games and improved to 7-2-1 over their past ten games. The Ducks pulled to within one point of third place in the Pacific Division and to within two points of the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

“The first period might’ve been our best period of the year," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. “We got a little tentative as the game went on, which is normal. They got their legs and started to play better in the second and third, but we did enough to hold on. It was a big two points.”

The Ducks, who outshot the Stars 19-7 over the first 20 minutes, scored twice in 31 seconds early in the period and then twice in 33 seconds later in the first to build a 4-0 lead heading into the first intermission.

“They came out pretty hard, and we played just stupid hockey,” Benn said. “Combination of both and you get yourself down 4-0.”

Jakob Silfverberg tipped in a Josh Manson shot 3:05 into the game to put Anaheim up 1-0 and Sam Vatanen cruised down the slot and scored off a wrist shot at 3:36 to make it a 2-0 game. Ryan Kesler set up Hampus Lindholm, who scored from close range with the Ducks on a power play at 15:04 of the first to make it 3-0. Corey Perry scored from close range off the rush at the 15:37 mark to give the Ducks a 4-0 lead.

The Ducks went on their second power play early in the second, but it was the Stars who cashed in to make it a 4-1 game. Travis Moen picked off a Perry pass in the neutral zone and set up Mattias Janmark, who scored on a shorthanded breakaway at the 1:15 mark.

Benn scored on a power play at 11:58 of the third to cut Anaheim’s lead to 4-2, but that was as close as the Stars would get.

“We’ve really got to take a look in the mirror here and find our game and find ourselves,” said Stars center Vernon Fiddler. “It’s not just one or two guys; it is everybody. We’re going to have to find a way to regroup tomorrow and get back at it.”

*The Stars are 3-5-2 since the NHL’s holiday break.

*The Stars are 1-5-3 in their past nine road games.

*The Ducks outshot the Stars 35-24 and had a 64-61 advantage in attempted shots.

*Tyler Seguin led the Stars with five shots on goal and eight attempted shots.

*The Stars were 1-4 on the power play and 2-3 on the penalty kill.

*Jamie Benn’s goal was his 26th. He is tied for second in the league in goal scoring and ranks second in points (54).

*Mattias Janmark’s goal was his 10th of the season.

*Stars forward Patrick Sharp had a 12-game points streak come to an end.

*The Stars won 36 of 69 faceoffs (52 percent).

*Cody Eakin won 8 of 13 faceoffs (62 percent). Tyler Seguin won 9 of 15 (60 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 7 of 13 (54 percent). Jason Spezza won 7 of 17 (41 percent).

*Jason Demers led the Stars with 25:21 of ice time.

The Stars play again Saturday night, taking on the Sharks in San Jose. The Stars are 4-2-1 in the second game of back-to-backs this season.

Jamie BennTyler SeguinPatrick Sharp

Mattias JanmarkJason SpezzaAles Hemsky

Antoine RousselCody EakinValeri Nichushkin

Travis MoenVernon FiddlerPatrick Eaves

Alex Goligoski
John Klingberg

Johnny OduyaJason Demers

Jyrki JokipakkaJordie Benn

Kari Lehtonen

Antti Niemi

Colton Sceviour, Jamie Oleksiak, Patrik Nemeth

Injured: None

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 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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