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Stars can't overcome bad start in loss to Wild

Stars erase four-goal deficit but fall to Wild, 5-4

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

The Dallas Stars overcame a four-goal deficit Saturday night, but in the end, they couldn't finish the job and lost 5-4 to the Minnesota Wild at American Airlines Center.

The Stars, who were down 4-0 by the 12:45 mark of the first period, rallied and tied the game at 4-4 on John Klingberg's power-play goal at 11:13 of the third period. But a little more than two minutes later, the Wild's Jason Zucker scored the game-winning goal.

"It's really disappointing," Stars defenseman Dan Hamhuis said. "Obviously, we didn't get off to a great start and put ourselves into a huge hole, but we worked our way out of it, and it made for a real exciting game there. When they got that fifth goal, it was crushing. It was too bad because we were pretty fired up and the fans were fired up about us coming back. It was really disappointing to lose this game."

While the late goal by Minnesota stung, the start to the game hurt the Stars as well. The four goals against in a period matched a season-high for the Stars, who gave up four in the second period at Winnipeg (8-2 loss) on Nov. 8.

"We were flat. We weren't sharp, and they were," Hamhuis said. "They took advantage and things were going in for them, too, when they were shooting. It's on every guy in this room to be better."

The loss was the fifth in the past seven games (2-4-1) for the Stars and left them with an 18-18-8 record for the season. The Stars are 3-11-4 in games following a win and have hovered around the .500 mark all season.

"It was good to see there was no quit and there have been a few ugly ones in the league this year," said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. "We creep a little bit above [.500], lose a tough one and battle hard to get to that one or two [games above], but we haven't been able to push through and put a string of games together."

Video: Stars' comeback attempt falls short

Klingberg registered one goal and two assists and Antoine Roussel, Jiri Hudler, and Tyler Seguin also scored for the Stars. Antti Niemi started in goal and was pulled after allowing three goals on three shots. Kari Lehtonen played the rest of the way and stopped 26 of 28 shots.

Zucker had one goal and one assist for the Wild, who improved to 16-1-1 over their past 18 games and moved into first overall in the Western Conference at 27-9-5.

"[Bouncing back after blowing a 4-0 lead] shows the resiliency we have as a group," Zucker said. "Obviously, we don't want to let in four goals at any point, but we still feel that we have the confidence to win those games. I think we showed that tonight."

The Wild scored 1:19 into the game when Stars defenseman Johnny Oduya cleared a rebound of a shot into his net. Mikko Koivu got credit for the goal. Eric Staal scored on a two-on-one rush, and it was 2-0 Minnesota 3:00 into the game. Matt Dumba made it 3-0 at the 4:00 mark, scoring from the top of the right circle off the rush. That ended the night for Niemi, who was replaced by Lehtonen. The Wild extended the lead to 4-0 at the 12:45 mark when Jordan Schroeder set up Chris Stewart, who tapped the puck past Lehtonen from close range.

"Today wasn't good at all," said Klingberg. "Too many individual mistakes led to them getting odd-man rushes."

 

The Stars cut the lead to 4-1 just before the first period ended. Radek Faksa backhanded the puck to Roussel, who scored into the open side of the net 6.5 seconds before intermission.

The Stars continued to cut into the lead early in the second period. Devin Shore set up Hudler off the rush, and Hudler scored from the left circle to make it 4-2 at 2:20 of the second. Less than four minutes later, the Stars made it 4-3 when Jamie Benn put a puck on net, and Seguin backhanded the rebound past Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper at the 6:08 mark.

The Stars drew even at 11:13 of the third with a power-play goal. Klingberg put a shot on net that deflected off traffic and past Kuemper to make it a 4-4 game.

But just 2:02 later, the Wild had the lead back. Granlund stole the puck from Stars defenseman Jordie Benn in the Dallas zone, put a shot on net and the rebound bounced off Zucker and into the net to give the Wild a 5-4 lead at the 13:15 mark.

"It hit my shoulder," Zucker said. "I was just trying to drive the net and [Granlund] threw it there. I think Lehtonen got his stick on it and kind of popped up, hit my shoulder and went in."

The Stars kept up the pressure, but couldn't get the equalizer.

"Obviously, it was a tough start. We showed a lot of heart coming back in this game," said Klingberg. "It is tough, but we will have to learn from this. This is a tough league coming from behind, and it's how the season has been. We are going to have to change that. It's tough."

Notes

*The Stars outshot the Wild 38-31 and had a 70-58 advantage in attempted shots.

*Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza co-led the Stars with 6 shots on goal. Jamie Benn was tops with eight shot attempts.

*Stars defenseman Stephen Johns had 6 hits and 4 blocked shots in the game.

*Stars defenseman John Klingberg has registered 12 points (5 goals, 7 assists) in his past 12 games.

*Esa Lindell led the Stars with 25:47 of ice time. Klingberg was next with 25:22.

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

*The Stars won 26 of 54 faceoffs (48 percent). Radek Faksa won 10 of 14 (71 percent).

*The Stars recalled D Patrik Nemeth from his conditioning assignment with Texas (AHL). Nemeth played four games with Texas, registering three points (one goal, two assists). He will give Dallas seven defensemen for the upcoming road trip.

What's Next

The Stars hit the road for three games. They'll take on Buffalo (Monday), New York Rangers (Tuesday), and New York Islanders (Thursday).

Stars Lineup

Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Patrick Eaves
Antoine Roussel - Cody Eakin - Jason Spezza
Lauri Korpikoski - Radek Faksa - Patrick Sharp
Jiri Hudler - Devin Shore - Brett Ritchie

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Jordie Benn
Johnny Oduya - Stephen Johns

Antti Niemi
Kari Lehtonen

Scratched: Curtis McKenzie, Adam Cracknell, Patrik Nemeth
Injured: Jamie Oleksiak (hand), Ales Hemsky (hip), Mattias Janmark (knee)

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