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Stars end road trip with 3-1 loss to Wild

Cody Eakin scores lone goal as Stars head home after 0-3-0 trip

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

The Dallas Stars lost their third straight game and seventh in their past eight, falling 3-1 to the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center Thursday night.

It's becoming a broken record, but the Stars played well enough to win, but they couldn't cash in on their chances, and the opposition made the most of theirs. The Stars had 36 shots on goal, 80 shot attempts but could only manage one goal.

"At a loss for words right now," said Stars forward Patrick Eaves. "We've been playing some pretty good hockey and not getting results. It's just the way it's going, but we'll work our way out of it."

The Stars went 0-3-0 on their just concluded road trip and have now lost six straight games away from home. They are 1-7-0 in their past eight games overall and 22-27-10 on the season. The Stars would likely have to win 18 of their final 23 games to reach 90 points and have a shot at the playoffs.

"We can't look at that," Eaves said. "We just have to take it one game at a time."

Cody Eakin scored the lone goal, and Kari Lehtonen stopped 23 shots for the Stars.

Darcy Kuemper stopped 34 shots, and Erik Haula had one goal and one assist for the Wild, who improved to 27-5-3 over their past 35 games and lead the Western Conference with a 38-13-6 record.

"[Kuemper] by far was our best player tonight," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. "He was really good and finally got rewarded for the effort he has been putting in at practice. We have the faith in him."

The Stars controlled play for the most part for the first 20 minutes and outshot the Wild 12-6, but were down 1-0 heading into the first intermission. The Stars took a goaltender interference penalty will 38 seconds left in the period, and Minnesota defenseman Ryan Suter scored from the point with less than a second remaining.

"I don't know if I've been through a stretch like this. It's been incredible," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "That first period was puck possession, and we did a great job in all areas. And we come away with nothing again. I know there is frustration there. The bounces just aren't going our way."

The Stars went on their first power play in the second period, didn't cash in and just seconds after the power play expired, the Wild scored off the rush when Jordan Schroder set up Haula who scored from close range to make it 2-0 at the 4:51 mark.

The Stars cut the lead to 2-1 at 5:19 of the third after Eakin scored on the rebound of a blocked shot off the stick of Antoine Roussel.

But the Wild answered at the 13:04 mark with the two sides playing four-on-four. Haula set up Jared Spurgeon on a two-on-one and Spurgeon roofed a backhand shot over Lehtonen to give the Wild a 3-1 lead.

The Stars got a power play for the final 1:43 of the game after Minnesota's Nino Niederreiter was given a major penalty for interference and a game misconduct after a low hit on Stars forward Patrick Sharp.

"I saw a pretty dirty hit on Sharp is what I saw," Ruff said. "Cutting the guys knees out, which is pretty tough."

The Stars pulled Lehtonen for an extra attacker, but couldn't mount much of an attack and the game ended 3-1.

Notes

*The Stars have allowed three goals or more in 14 of their past 16 games, excluding goals awarded in games decided by shootouts.

*The Stars outshot the Wild 35-26 and had an 80-47 advantage in shot attempts.

*Jamie Benn led the Stars with seven shots on goal and nine shot attempts.

*The Stars were 0-2 on the power play and 1-2 on the penalty kill.

*Dallas won 36 of 69 faceoffs (52 percent). Radek Faksa won 10 of 14 faceoffs (71 percent). Jason Spezza won 10 of 16 (63 percent), and Cody Eakin won 12 of 20 (60 percent).

*Esa Lindell led the Stars with 25:40 of ice time. John Klingberg was next with 25:10.

What's Next

The Stars return home to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday evening at American Airlines Center. Saturday will be the Stars' final game before their five-day "bye week." 

Stars Lineup

Jamie Benn - Cody Eakin - Patrick Eaves
Devin Shore - Jason Spezza - Tyler Seguin
Antoine Roussel - Radek Faksa - Patrick Sharp
Curtis McKenzie - Adam Cracknell - Brett Ritchie

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Jordie Benn
Patrik Nemeth - Jamie Oleksiak

Kari Lehtonen
Antti Niemi

Scratched: Lauri Korpikoski, Jiri Hudler
Injured: Stephen Johns (illness), Johnny Oduya (ankle), Ales Hemsky (hip), Mattias Janmark (knee)

This story was not subject to 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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