The Dallas Stars locker room was quiet after Saturday’s 5-3 loss to San Jose that pushed the team’s winless streak to seven games. Several players sat in their stalls, staring straight ahead or down at the floor. Defenseman Trevor Daley was among those who had to face the media and offer an explanation of the Stars squandering another third period lead on their way to another loss.
“I wish I had the answers,” Daley said.
Stars coach Lindy Ruff was searching for answers as well.
“Physically there was a lot of try in the game. When you have two guys fall down, you get goals scored against you and that’s frustrating,” Ruff said. “I’ve never seen anything like this. Frankly, I don’t know how to answer.”
The Stars played well the first two periods, getting three goals from Tyler Seguin and some solid goaltending from Anders Lindback to build a 3-1 lead over San Jose. But the Sharks scored three goals in less than seven minutes in the first half of the third period to take a 4-3 lead.
“We had some chances to put the game away and we didn’t capitalize,” said Seguin. “I fell down and they got a two-on-one (on the game-tying goal) and [Kevin Connauton] had a bad bounce and wiped out (on the game-winning goal). We’ve got to be better. I thought we played 50 minutes of good hockey today.”
The Stars are now a lackluster 2-1-2 when leading after two periods. They have been outscored 21-9 in third periods.
“It’s frustrating,” said center Jason Spezza. “I am not sure why we can’t finish out games we play so well in.”
The Stars are 0-5-2 in their last seven games. They fell to 4-6-4 overall and following a 0-3-0 homestand, they are now 1-3-4 at American Airlines Center.
“We should be good at home,” said Spezza. “We now have to go on the road and try to get wins. We just needs some wins in general to get us out of this funk.”
San Jose, which opened a seven-game road trip Saturday, improved to 6-2-2 away from home. Brent Burns scored two goals for the Sharks, including the game-tying and game-winning goals.
“I think as a team we talked about staying the course, staying tight, staying positive,” Burns said. “Sometimes that’s tough when things don’t seem to be going your way and they get some bounces, but [goaltender Alex Stalock] hung in real tough there and played real well for us coming down the stretch and we were able to capitalize on some in the third.”
“We stuck with it. It didn’t look pretty,” said Sharks coach Todd McLellan. “It wasn’t going to be a pretty game, but more to the net and we talked about them probably being a little bit fragile, the record they had and we talked between periods about checking well, not giving them anything else, power play being ready in case we got one and it was, and we just stuck with it. We didn’t go away. The way the league is this year, you see it with our group, there is no lead that’s safe and you’re never out of it when you’re coming from behind, so we used that a bit between periods as well.”
Seguin scored twice in a 2:23 span of the first period to stake the Stars to an early 2-0 lead. A Sergei Gonchar shot from the right point deflected in off Seguin at the 8:03 mark. Seguin scored off the rush at the 10:26 mark, beating Stalock with a shot from the right circle. The Sharks answered late in the period when Marc-Edouard Vlasic put a shot on net and James Sheppard scored off the rebound at 17:14 of the first.
The Stars had two power play chances in the second period and Seguin scored on the second one to make it a 3-1 game. A Spezza shot deflected off Antoine Roussel and rebounded out to the right circle, where Seguin blasted it into the net at the 15:28 mark.
Patrick Marleau scored off a rebound with San Jose on a power play to make it a 3-2 game 3:51 into the third period. San Jose tied the game when Seguin fell after a collision with Burns, who continued up ice on a two-on-one rush and scored from the left circle at the 6:38 mark. Burns scored the game-winner at 10:23, knocking home the rebound of a Tomas Hertl shot. Joe Thornton scored into an empty net with 42 seconds left to round out the scoring and send the Stars to a seventh straight game without a victory.
“That’s a hurting group in there,” said Ruff. “They’ve got a lot of care and a lot of try. There’s a lot of frustration and a lot of emotion and I’ve got to be the guy that supports them.”
*The Stars’ current seven-game winless streak is the team’s longest since the 2008-09 season when the Stars went 0-5-2 from March 17 to March 30.
*The Stars are 1-5-3 vs. the Western Conference.
*The Stars outshot the Sharks 40-29.
*Shawn Horcoff and Tyler Seguin led the Stars with five shots each.
*The Stars won 43 of 79 faceoffs (54 percent).
*Jamie Benn won 10 of 14 faceoffs (71 percent). Jason Spezza won 11 of 20 (55 percent). Seguin won 6 of 10 (60 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 7 of 14 (50 percent). Horcoff won 6 of 12 (50 percent).
*The Stars were 1-5 on the power play and 1-2 on the penalty kill.
*Seguin has now recorded five hat tricks in 94 games with the Stars, and is one hat trick away from tying Mike Modano for most hat tricks in Dallas Stars history (6).
*Spezza played in his 700th NHL game and registered his 700th point when he assisted on Seguin’s power play goal in the second period.
*Forwards Cody Eakin (upper body) and Valeri Nichushkin (hip/groin) sat out Saturday’s game. Eakin, who missed Thursday’s game as well, is not skating. Nichushkin is expected to be off for two or three days, according to coach Lindy Ruff.
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Patrick Eaves
Curtis McKenzie – Jason Spezza – Ales Hemsky
Antoine Roussel – Vernon Fiddler – Ryan Garbutt
Erik Cole – Shawn Horcoff – Colton Sceviour
Brenden Dillon – Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn – Alex Goligoski
Kevin Connauton – Sergei Gonchar
Scratched: D Jamie Oleksiak
Injured: F Cody Eakin (upper body), F Valeri Nichushkin (hip/groin), D 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