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Slow Starting Stars Fall to Wild

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars fell flat in Minnesota Saturday night, falling 5-1 to the Wild at the Excel Energy Center. The Stars gave up a goal on the first shift of the game and spent the rest of the night chasing the Wild.

Minnesota scored just 12 seconds into the game to take the early lead. After Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon turned the puck over in the defensive zone, Matt Cooke set up Justin Fontaine, who beat Dan Ellis with a backhand shot for his first NHL goal.

It’s not the start the Stars needed on a night when they were playing the second game of a back-to-back.

“It definitely didn’t help us,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “Ill-advised play in our own zone and it gave them life right off the bat.”

It wasn’t the start Ellis wanted.

“Whenever you are playing that second night of a back-to-back you want to calm the game down early and when the first shot goes in as a knuckle-puck, it’s not the way you want to start it,” said Ellis

Cooke made it a 2-0 game at 10:41 of the first. Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski lost the puck behind the Dallas net, Cooke grabbed it and slipped the puck past Ellis on a wrap-around.

“We gave them a two goal lead,” Goligoski said. “Sloppy plays and we really never got going after that. We got outplayed all over the rink. It was a tough night.”

The Stars, who were outshot 36-19 in the game, were even on their heels when they had a couple of first period power plays with a chance to get back into the game.

The Stars had back-to-back chances with the man-advantage, including a brief five-on-three, but Minnesota had the better chances, getting two clean shorthanded breakaways. Kyle Brodziak lost the puck on his backhand on one chance and Ellis stopped Cooke on the other.

The Stars had some good pressure to start the second, but couldn’t cut into the Wild lead. Minnesota then went on a couple of power plays and scored on the second one to make it a 3-0 game. Defenseman Matthew Dumba scored from the left circle at the 8:23 mark for his first NHL goal.

Less than two minutes later, Minnesota had a 4-0 lead. Nino Niederreiter picked off the rebound of a Mikko Koivu shot off the end boards and scored from the left circle at 10:20.

The Stars finally got on the board at the 12:40 mark with a power play goal. Jordie Benn pinched in from the point, grabbed a deflected pass and beat Wild goaltender Josh Harding from the right circle to make it a 4-1 game.

Minnesota scored on the power play late in the third to round out the scoring. Zach Parise scored off the rebound of a Jared Spurgeon shot with 5:30 left in the game.

The loss dropped the Stars to 2-2-0 on the season, while the Wild improved to 2-1-2.

“We just got off on the wrong foot tonight,” said Goligoski. “It just spiraled from there.”

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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