The Dallas Stars shook off a slow start Sunday morning, climbed back into the game and then things went downhill. The result was a 6-3 loss to the Boston Bruins at American Airlines Center.
"Obviously, a little bit of a tough start," said Stars defenseman Johnny Oduya. "I think we played pretty well for a while but then gave them two quick goals again. Not a very good game overall I would say."
The Stars were down 2-0 by the 6:51 mark of the first period, rallied to tie the game in the second period, but then the Bruins scored two goals in 30 seconds late in the second to take control of the game.
The Bruins scored six goals on 28 shots, tallying three times off redirections in front of Dallas goaltender Kari Lehtonen.
"Big mistakes hurt us," Ruff said. "We missed some sticks, our defense didn't tie up a couple of guys. I thought that was probably the biggest difference in the game."
The Stars (24-28-10) lost for the first time in three games on their current homestand. Jiri Hudler and John Klingberg both had one goal and one assist. Tyler Seguin also scored for the Stars, who lost for the eighth time in their past eleven games overall.
"It's been a frustrating year, I think everybody agrees," said Seguin. "It's been a frustrating year from the beginning, but we still got 20 games here left. I want them to have a lot of pride in here. I want everyone in here to play for each other and we'll still get a chance to get better every day."
Patrice Bergeron (two goals, one assist), Brad Marchand (one goal, two assists) and Torey Krug (three assists) all had three-point nights for the Bruins (32-24-6). The Bruins went 3-1-0 on a four-game road trip and improved to 6-1-0 under interim coach Bruce Cassidy.
"I think we showed a lot of character during that road trip," Bergeron said. "It's not an easy trip. We're playing some big, heavy teams and a fast team with a lot of skills today, so it wasn't easy by any means. It was an early game [today], it's a different kind of routine for everyone, and we all showed up and played a great game."
Stars captain Jamie Benn and Bruins forward David Backes dropped the gloves right after the opening faceoff to get things going with the early 11:30 a.m. start time.
"Two competitive guys starting the game off," Backes said. "It certainly worked. I think there was a lot more energy all around for both teams after that."
The Bruins opened the scoring 5:56 into the game. After some slick work by forward David Pastrnak, Bergeron set up Marchand, who scored into the open side of the net from the left circle. Boston made it a 2-0 game just 55 seconds later when David Krejci won an offensive zone draw, Krug put a shot on net and Krejci redirected the puck into the net at the at the 6:51 mark.
The Stars cut the lead to 2-1 at the 4:40 mark of the second. After Devin Shore won an offensive zone draw, Klingberg scored on a wrist shot from the point. Just 31 seconds later, Stars forward Curtis McKenzie and Boston defenseman Kevan Miller dropped the gloves for the second fight of the night. The Stars tied the game at 11:49 of the second by cashing in on the game's first power play. Hudler scored from the left circle to make it a 2-2 game.
But Boston struck for two goals in 30 seconds later in the second to take a 4-2 lead. Frank Vatrano tipped in a Miller shot at the 14:41 mark to make it a 4-2 game, and then Bergeron tipped in a Marchand shot at the 15:21 mark to give the Bruins a two-goal lead.
"We got right back in the game and tied it up, and they seem to get two quick ones in back-to-back shifts. It was just pretty quick. It's a bummer," said Seguin.
The Stars came close to cutting into the lead before the period ended, but Seguin shot wide at the open side of the net and Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask made a spectacular save on a bid from Patrick Sharp.
The Bruins extended their lead to 5-2 at 7:48 of the third period when Bergeron took a pass from Marchand off the rush and scored from the slot. The Stars cut the lead to 5-3 on a goal by Seguin, who scored on a rebound at the 13:00 mark. The Bruins answered with a power-play goal by Ryan Spooner at the 14:23 mark to make it a 6-3 game.
*Stars defenseman Johnny Oduya returned to the lineup Sunday after missing 15 games with an ankle injury.
*The Stars had a three-game home winning streak snapped.
*The Stars fell to 3-8-0 in the month of February.
*The Stars outshot the Bruins 36-28 and had a 62-51 advantage in shot attempts.
Tyler Seguin led the Stars with seven shots on goal and ten shot attempts.
*The Stars were 1-2 on the power play and 1-2 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars won 27 of 66 faceoffs (41 percent). Boston's Patrice Bergeron won 16 of 22 faceoffs (73 percent).
*Stephen Johns had a game-high nine hits.
*Esa Lindell led the Stars with 23:26 of ice time.
The Stars continue the homestand when they host the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday. This is the second meeting of the season between the two teams. The Penguins won 6-2 in Pittsburgh on Dec. 1.
Jamie Benn - Cody Eakin - Brett Ritchie
Antoine Roussel - Tyler Seguin - Patrick Sharp
Lauri Korpikoski - Radek Faksa - Jason Spezza
Curtis McKenzie - Devin Shore - Jiri Hudler
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Jordie Benn
Johnny Oduya - Stephen Johns
Scratched: Patrik Nemeth, Jamie Oleksiak, Remi Elie
Injured: Adam Cracknell (lower body), 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.