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Stars Continue to Struggle at Home With 6-4 Loss to Hurricanes

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Home ice continues to be no advantage for the Dallas Stars. The team’s winless streak at American Airlines Center hit seven games with a 6-4 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday night.

The Stars, who are 0-5-2 in their last seven games at the AAC, took a 2-0 lead in the game, but the Hurricanes scored five straight goals, including four in the second period, to take control of the game and send the Stars to their fifth straight regulation loss at home.

“It was a little bit of the story of our season so far,” said Stars center Jason Spezza. “We can’t put together a full 60 minutes. When we do, we win games. It just seems like when we give up one [goal], we give up two and it snowballs.”

“It’s got to stop,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “We all have to look in the mirror and we all have to be better. There’s not one player that can go home tonight and say ‘well I played a pretty good game.’ There are so many details we have to get better at, and until we do that, we are not going to win.”

The loss came against a Carolina team that came into the game with the worst road record in the NHL at 1-6-2. And now the Stars have the worst home record in the NHL at 1-5-4. They are 2-8-2 over their last 12 games overall and are 6-9-4 on the season. They currently sit in 13th place in the 14-team Western Conference.

"It's not an easy league to play catch up. We're not idiots. We know that we've dug ourselves a hole here,” said Spezza. “But I also know that there's a lot of race track left and we can be better. We can be better as a team, we can be better as individuals.”

“I think we are beating ourselves mentally right now,” said Stars forward Tyler Seguin. “We have definitely dug ourselves into a hole. It would be different if we thought we were playing good hockey losing these, but I don’t think anyone thinks we’re playing good hockey.”

Kari Lehtonen started in goal for the Stars but was pulled in the second period after allowing four goals on 16 shots. Anders Lindback finished the game, stopping seven of nine shots.

“I've been riding (Lehtonen) a lot. He's not going to like his game; I didn't like his game,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “He's been my guy, and he's going to continue to be my guy. But he needs help. We can criticize those goals, but we made some plays that we don't need to make.”

The six goals allowed pushed the Stars goals against average to 3.67, which is last in the league. They allowed four goals in a period for the third time in the last six games.

Carolina snapped a three-game losing streak and improved to 6-9-3 on the season. The Hurricanes, who opened a five-game road trip Tuesday, won for just the second time away from home this season.

“It’s nice to start off this trip with a W, no question,” said Carolina captain Eric Staal, who had two goals and an assist in the game. “We were looking for one obviously after the last couple games. It’s always nice when you’re on the road to pick up points.”

The Stars opened the scoring 1:48 into the game. After Jamie Oleksiak put a shot on net from a sharp angle, Vernon Fiddler grabbed the rebound and made a slick pass to Jamie Benn, who tapped the puck into the open side of the net from short range.

The Stars extended the lead to 2-0 late in the first when a John Klingberg blast deflected off Seguin and past Carolina goaltender Cam Ward at the 16:34 mark.

The Hurricanes exploded for four goals in the second period to take a 4-2 lead.. Jeff Skinner beat Lehtonen with a shot from the left circle off the rush at the 2:34 mark to cut the Stars’ lead to 2-1.

“The first goal, it shouldn't, but it put us on our heels a little bit, and we've seen that before,” said Ruff.

Patrick Dwyer tied the game at the 7:00 mark, breaking in on net and scoring off a backhand shot. Just 90 seconds later the Hurricanes took the lead with a power play goal from Victor Rask, who scored off a one-timer from the right circle to make it a 3-2 game. Jiri Tlusty then ended Lehtonen’s night when he scored from a sharp angle at the 15:54 mark.

The third period got off to a rough start for the Stars. Eric Staal scored nine seconds into the period to extend Carolina’s lead to 5-2.

The Stars got goals from Cody Eakin and Seguin to cut the Carolina lead to 5-4, but Staal scored on a two-on-one rush with 3:57 remaining to seal the win and send the Stars to another home loss.

“We have to stick together,” said Spezza. “I have to be better and the group has to be better. We have dug ourselves a hole, no doubt about that. But it’s our job to work our way out of this now. It’s obviously frustrating. We are all really frustrated with the way things have gone. Nobody could have predicted this. This is the time to look yourself in the mirror and become a better player.”

Nichushkin surgery

*Dallas Stars forward Valeri Nichushkin underwent successful hip surgery in New York on Tuesday. He is expected to be out four months.

*The Columbus Blue Jackets claimed defenseman Kevin Connauton off waivers Tuesday morning. The Stars placed Connauton on waivers Monday.

*The Stars recalled defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka from Texas (AHL) Tuesday. Jokipakka was a healthy scratch vs. Carolina.

Notes

*The Carolina franchise won in Dallas for the first time since Feb. 11, 1996 when the Hartford Whalers defeated the Stars, 5-3, at Reunion Arena.

*The Stars outshot Carolina 27-25. Ales Hemsky and Jamie Benn led the Stars with four shots each.

*The Stars were 0-2 on the power play and did not register a power play shot.

*The Stars were 2-3 on the penalty kill.

*The Stars won 29 of 76 faceoffs (38 percent).

*Jason Spezza won 8 of 19 draws (42 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 9 of 22 (41 percent). Cody Eakin won 7 of 22 (32 percent).

*Defenseman John Klingberg led the Stars in ice time with 24:26.

*Seguin scored two goals Tuesday night and now leads the NHL with 14 goals.

Stars lineup

Jamie BennCody EakinTyler Seguin
Erik ColeJason SpezzaAles Hemsky
Antoine RousselVernon FiddlerColton Sceviour
Curtis McKenzie
Shawn HorcoffTravis Moen

Alex GoligoskiTrevor Daley
Brenden Dillon
John Klingberg
Jordie BennJamie Oleksiak

Kari Lehtonen
Anders Lindback

Scratched: Jyrki Jokipakka

Injured: Ryan Garbutt (upper body), 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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