The Stars dominated play at times, had a 40-22 shots advantage but could get only one puck past Ducks goaltender John Gibson.
“We are getting great chances and pucks to the net,” said Stars forward Patrick Eaves. “I wish I had the answer, and we would be doing it, but we just have to keep working. We have to work through this and stick together and focus on doing things right.”
The third period again proved to be fatal for the Stars. Tied 1-1 going into the final 20 minutes, the Stars surrendered two goals. They have allowed 19 third-period goals during their six-game slide.
“I thought we did some good things. We're just finding ways to break down,” said Stars center Vernon Fiddler. “Good teams just lurk around and lurk around and wait for those chances, and bury them. We're just not doing that. We just have to be more patient in games and let the games come to us instead of go after it. I thought we skated well and got pucks behind them but at the end of the day they get more goals than us. That's not the outcome we want."
The Stars (27-26-10) remain nine points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 19 games remaining. That record and the Stars’ position in the playoffs resulted in GM Jim Nill trading forward Erik Cole to Detroit just prior to the game.
“You just have to put your head down and go to work. You never know what’s going to happen. We could go on a run and surprise everybody,” Fiddler said. “We still believe and even before this game we are still trying to make the playoffs. Just because they are trading one guy doesn’t mean we are packing it in, and everybody is sending their families postcards and not going to work hard. We have to come with our lunch pails and be ready to work our butts off and at the end of the year we see what happens.”
Eaves, who was back in the lineup after missing seven games with a concussion, scored the Stars’ only goal. Jhonas Enroth got the start in goal for the Stars and stopped 19 of 22 shots.
Gibson made 39 saves and Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf both had one goal and one assist for the Ducks. Defenseman Clayton Stoner’s first goal of the season, which came early in the third period, proved to be the game-winner. Anaheim won for the fifth time in the last six games (5-1-0).
“[Gibson] played great,” Getzlaf said. “He was big and he made the saves that he should and a couple that he shouldn’t, so that’s what we need out of our goaltender. Obviously, it’s nice to see our group come out in the third period the way we did.”
The Ducks scored the only goal of the first period. Just after coming out of the penalty box, Jiri Sekac set up Corey Perry on a two-on-one rush and Perry roofed a shot over Enroth from close range to put the Ducks up 1-0 at the 17:46 mark.
The Stars dominated the second period, outshooting the Ducks 17-3 but couldn’t crack Gibson until late in the period when Eaves scored from close range with the Stars on the power play at the 17:51 mark.
The Ducks scored twice in the third to win the game. Just 42 seconds after Gibson made a sprawling save on Fiddler, the Ducks took the lead for good at 4:19 of the third period. Defenseman Clayton Stoner beat a screened Enroth from the left point to make it a 2-1 game.
“I’ll let [Getzlaf] score the fancy goals and I’ll just try and get shots on net,” Stoner said. “That one was lucky to go through. I was happy about that.”
"I never saw it actually,” Enroth said of Stoner’s goal. “I thought I did a pretty good job and tried to find it, but it's just one of those shots that I never saw. It's just unfortunate that it went in."
After the Stars turned over the puck in the Anaheim zone, Perry set up Getzlaf on a breakaway, and the Ducks captain buried a wrist shot to make it a 3-1 game at 14:09 of the third period.
"I think the lesson is they hung around and waited for that one big mistake we made, and they put it in the back of our net,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “That was the part that hurt. We turned the puck over in the middle of the ice, and it ended up in the back of our net."
Stars react to Erik Cole trade
Just prior to Sunday’s game, the Stars dealt forward Erik Cole and a conditional third-round pick in 2015 to Detroit for prospects Mattias Backstrom and Mattias Janmark and a second-round pick in 2015.
With the Stars nine points out of a playoff spot, GM Jim Nill had to make decisions about pending unrestricted free agents such as Cole.
“That’s the business side of this sport and I don’t like it. He was a good friend, and I played with him in Carolina and you hate to see that, but that’s life, and it’s what we signed up for,” said Stars forward Patrick Eaves. “Unfortunately where we are in the standings and with everyone’s contract there’s a lot of things that go into it not just the business side and you don’t like to see your friends go, but that’s just the way it is.”
Cole ranked third on the Stars in goal scoring this season. His departure means some of the Stars younger players will have to help fill the void.
"It's a great opportunity for some of our young players,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “I've got to make sure that I do a good job with these young players. That's my job, and some of these opportunities – [Curtis] McKenzie, [Brett] Ritchie, those guys -- they have to turn those into goals. Because they're good goal scorers, they're good players. Their opportunities have to find the back of the net."
*The Stars had 80 attempted shots to 42 for Anaheim.
The Stars outshot the Ducks 40-22.
*The Stars are 2-7-1 when registering 40 shots or more in a game.
*The Stars are 7-17-5 when outshooting their opposition.
*Ales Hemsky led the Stars with five shots on goal.
*Hemsky and John Klingberg were tops with nine shot attempts each.
*The Stars were 1-3 on the power play and 1-1 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars won 32 of 66 faceoffs (48 percent).
*Jason Spezza won 8 of 12 draws (67 percent). Cody Eakin won 9 of 20 (45 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 5 of 15 (33 percent).
*Alex Goligoski led the Stars with 23:43 of ice time.
Jamie Benn – Jason Spezza – Patrick Eaves
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Ryan Garbutt
Curtis McKenzie – Vernon Fiddler – Ales Hemsky
Colton Sceviour – Shawn Horcoff – Brett Ritchie
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
Jyrki Jokipakka – Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn – Jason Demers
Injured: Tyler Seguin (knee), Travis Moen (upper body), Valeri Nichushkin (hip)
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.