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Stars Let Early Lead Slip Away, Fall to Avalanche

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars got off to a good start Saturday afternoon in Denver, but they couldn’t maintain it and fell, 4-3, to the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center.

“We have to find a way to play a full 60 minutes,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn.

The Stars played a solid first period, taking a 2-0 lead. But Colorado scored three straight goals in the second period – including one with eight seconds left – to take the lead. The Avalanche added to their lead just 12 seconds into the third period to make it a 4-2 game. The Stars pulled to within one goal but could not get the equalizer.

“We got the start we wanted, but then we laid an egg in the second period, which we can’t do against a good team like that,” said Benn.

The Stars outshot the Avalanche 40-30 and had an 84-43 advantage in shots directed towards the net in Saturday’s game. Nine of Dallas’ shots on goal came on the power play, but they were 0-6 in the game and missed on a five-on-three in the second period with the game tied 2-2. They are 0-14 over the past three games.

“It’s got to make a difference for us in these games, and it’s not right now,” said Benn.

The loss stretched the Stars’ winless streak to four games (0-2-2) and left them with an 18-16-7 record (43 points) at the midway point of the season.

“The last month, we’ve been playing a lot better. Tonight was a little inconsistent, and the last couple have been a little inconsistent,” said Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski. “I think we’ve found what’s made us successful. It’s just a matter of doing it.”

Colorado (18-16-8) won its third straight game and for the fifth time in its last six games (5-1-0). The Avalanche moved one point ahead of the Stars in the Western Conference standings.

“We stayed with it, it didn't really faze us,” Avalanche forward Matt Duchene said. “We kept going and [goaltender Semyon Varlamov] played great for us. He played a great game and we had a lot of guys who stepped up.”

The Stars scored twice in the first ten minutes of the game to take a 2-0 lead. Tyler Seguin put a shot on net from the slot, and Brett Ritchie redirected it past Varlamov just 27 seconds into the game. The Stars penalty kill came up big after that, holding Colorado to no shots on goal on two power play chances. Vernon Fiddler then picked off an Erik Johnson pass along the boards and set up Colton Sceviour, who scored off a backhand shot from about 10 feet out at the 9:24 mark to give the Stars a 2-0 lead.

The Avalanche bounced back in the second, scoring three unanswered goals to take a 3-2 lead. Johnson scored off a backhand shot at the 7:18 mark to cut the lead to 2-1. John Mitchell scored from the left point at the 8:43 mark to make it a 2-2 game.

“I thought we were going OK for a while in the second, but they got the one and the next one right after it,” Goligoski said. “They got a little momentum and we couldn’t get our footing after that.”

The Stars had a chance to take the lead with a 33-second five-on-three power play, but failed to take advantage.

Colorado took the lead with 8.4 seconds left in the second. Avs forward Max Talbot picked off a John Klingberg pass at the Dallas blue line and set up Nathan MacKinnon, whose point-blank shot on Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen appeared to just make it over the goal line. The play was ruled a goal on the ice. A video review proved inconclusive, so the on-ice ruling stood.

“I didn’t look at it,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said of the ruling on the goal. “It doesn’t matter what I think. I know what they called.”

Matt Duchene scored 12 seconds into the third period to make it a 4-2 game. Ales Hemsky scored off the rush at the 2:38 mark to make it 4-3, but the Stars, who outshot Colorado 16-8 in the third period, couldn’t get the equalizer.

“I thought we played well enough to win,” Ruff said. “We played well enough, hard enough. We just made a couple big mistakes.”

Fiddler injured; Cole (illness) sits out; Schlemko debuts

*Stars forward Vernon Fiddler left Saturday’s game in the second period and did not return due to a lower body injury. The Stars broadcast showed Fiddler coming up limping while making a turn during one of his shifts. Stars coach Lindy Ruff did not have much of an update after the game.

“We’ll see where he is at tomorrow,” Ruff said.

*Stars forward Erik Cole did not play Saturday due to illness.

*Defenseman David Schlemko, claimed off waivers last week from Arizona, made his Stars debut Saturday. He played 16:40, had three shots on goal, one hit and three blocked shots.

[I felt] pretty good,” Schlemko said. “I had some pretty good jump out there. I like how fast we play. Obviously, I would have liked to have had a better result. Overall, it felt alright.”

It was Schlemko’s first game since Dec. 22, when he was still with the Coyotes.

“I thought for a first game it was good,” Ruff said.

Seguin selected for NHL All-Star Game

Just moments after the Stars-Avalanche game ended, the NHL announced that Stars forward Tyler Seguin was among the players selected to play in the 2015 NHL All-Star Game. This marks Seguin's second All-Star appearance. He also was selected to the 2012 All-Star Game while with Boston.

This year’s NHL All-Star Game and festivities will take place Jan. 23-25 in Columbus.

Notes

*The Stars had a six-game points streak on the road snapped. They are now 4-1-2 in their last seven games on the road.

*The Stars are 2-8-5 vs. the Central Division.

*The Stars outshot the Avalanche 40-30.

*The Stars had an 84-43 advantage in shots directed towards the net, including shots on goal, shots blocked and shots that missed the net.

*Tyler Seguin put 11 shots towards the net, including four on goal, four that were blocked and three that missed.

*Colorado blocked 26 shots in the game.

*The Stars were 0-6 on the penalty kill and 3-3 on the penalty kill.

*The Stars won 35 of 69 faceoffs (49 percent).

*Jason Spezza won 13 of 19 draws (68 percent). Cody Eakin won 10 of 17 (59 percent). Jamie Benn won 3 of 9 (33 percent). Tyler Seguin won 4 of 14 (29 percent).

*Trevor Daley led the Stars with 24:52 of ice time.

*Stars forward Brett Ritchie has scored three goals in his first six NHL games.

Stars lineup

Jamie BennTyler SeguinBrett Ritchie
Shawn HorcoffJason SpezzaAles Hemsky
Antoine RousselCody EakinRyan Garbutt
Travis MoenVernon Fiddler – Colton Scevoiur

Alex GoligoskiJohn Klingberg
David SchlemkoTrevor Daley
Jordie BennJason Demers

Kari Lehtonen
Anders Lindback

Scratched: Jamie Oleksiak

Injured: Erik Cole (illness); Patrick Eaves (ankle), Valeri Nichushkin (ankle), 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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