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Stars Streak Has Roots in Loss at Toronto

by Steve Hunt / Dallas Stars

The Stars’ 4-1 loss to Toronto on November 22 at the Air Canada Center was a definite low point for Marc Crawford’s team. Dallas had its second straight less-than-stellar showing just two days after closing out a three-game run at the American Airlines Center with a disappointing 4-3 loss to Colorado via the shootout.

But the Stars haven’t lost since and heading into Saturday’s visit by the Wild, Dallas (15-8-1) looks for a sixth straight win. This recent run of good form has them atop the Pacific Division standings and second only to Detroit in the Western Conference with 31 points, which is just three less than the Red Wings.

“We didn’t play a very good game in Toronto. We had no illusions about that game,” Stars head coach Marc Crawford said. “But we’ve been playing pretty good for the better part of the month. I think that’s what’s happening now. We’re building confidence in our group. We understand how we have to play. If you do a lot of those simple things well, the cumulative effect for your club is that you put a lot of equations in your favor. I feel like we’re doing that.”

Captain Brenden Morrow echoes those sentiments.

“Losing that game in Toronto may have brought us back down and humbled us a little bit. Since then, we have had a good effort on back pressure and recovery,” Morrow said. “I think the MO of our team is our forecheck. We create a lot of turnovers and get a lot of scoring opportunities with our recovery.”

During this streak, Dallas has given up just one power play goal and that came in last night’s 2-1 win over Washington, ending a run of five straight games without allowing a power play tally. Both starter Kari Lehtonen and backup Andrew Raycroft have been between the pipes during the run and the Stars coach couldn’t be happier with the performances he’s gotten from both netminders.

“We’d all be remiss if we didn’t comment on how good our goaltending has been,” Crawford said. “Both Andrew and Kari have played extremely well for us this year. I can’t even remember a bad game by our goalies. When they give you a chance to win every night, you can’t ask for anything more.”

Even with his team’s recent upswing, there are still areas where the veteran head coach still wants to see considerable improvement.

“At the end of the day, you still give up chances. We haven’t dramatically changed the number of chances we’ve given up,” Crawford said. “We have reduced it though. We’re still a work in progress but we’re heading in the right direction. I think you’re starting to see the detail be part of it, the depth be part of it, the awareness of how we have to play a bigger part of it.”

Still, the Dallas coach has learned to enjoy good times like these when they do arise.

“Winning streaks are great. They really are,” Crawford said. “It is so good plus you’re banking all those points. If you have a good core setup, it starts to become your identity and it becomes what you fall back to. I enjoy that part. It’s a group that believes they can play well from their own end out and they understand how all things connect.”

Over the last five games, the Stars have scored 13 goals, which have come from nine different players. Ten different players have assisted on those goals and four players have three or more assists over the last five games while three others have a pair of helpers.

For Brandon Segal, who had the game-winner in Thursday’s big win over the Capitals, the streak boils down to something fairly basic.

“Our main focus since that Toronto game has been to come out strong and make sure we’re focused. We’ve been doing that,” Segal said. “It’s just playing the full 60. When we do that, we play well and we’ve been getting wins the last five games.”

But the Stars right winger knows that even though his team has five straight wins, nothing is guaranteed, namely a sixth straight triumph over Minnesota on Saturday night at the AAC.

“We’ve just got to keep it going. We can’t sit back and think just because we got five wins that the next one is going to be easy. It’s not. It’s going to be harder,” Segal said.

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