Gassed Stars blow 2-0 lead, fall in Florida

The Dallas Stars blew a 2-0 lead early in the second period and ended their five-game road trip with a disappointing 3-2 loss at the Florida Panthers on Sunday afternoon.

Dallas, who was playing the tail end of a back-to-back after getting a big win over the playoff bound-Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night, struck early when captain Jamie Benn made it 1-0 just 45 seconds into the game.

The Stars then doubled that advantage early in the second period when Tyler Seguin scored with Dallas on the power play to make it 2-0, but that was all the scoring there would be for the Stars in South Florida.

Florida pulled one back later in the second when Scottie Upshall deflected a shot in to make it 2-1, but the killer came late in the middle frame when Brandon Pirri beat Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen top shelf with a wrister with less than a minute remaining before the second intermission.

That equalizer swung momentum Florida’s way and the Panthers took their first lead when Sean Bergenheim scored off a deflection with 4:30 remaining in regulation. It was a truly disconcerting defeat for a Dallas team who maintains their one-point edge over the Phoenix Coyotes now that the Stars and Coyotes each have just four games remaining in the regular season.

"I’m not looking at excuses," Stars head coach Lindy Ruff said. "We had an opportunity to make a better play in several situations and we didn’t get the plays made. I thought our power play came out and made a difference at the start when we changed some people around. But I thought we had some opportunities defensively to make plays that we didn’t make."

Dallas returns home and will play three of their final four at home, a stretch starting against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night at American Airlines Center.

And much like Ruff so aptly put it after Dallas lost 4-1 at the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night this is another disappointing outcome the Stars have to put in the rearview mirror rather quickly.

"It was obviously a terrible outcome," Benn said. "We don’t really want to remember this one. So we’re going to put it behind us, get a day off tomorrow and come back ready to play (on Tuesday)."

The Stars will have Monday off before holding a morning skate on Tuesday in advance of their game with the Predators. Dallas will then host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, the make-up game for the March 10 game that was suspended after Stars center Rich Peverley collapsed on the bench in the first period.

Dallas will end the three-game homestand against the current Western Conference-leading St. Louis Blues on Friday night. The Stars finish the season on Sunday in Phoenix against the very club they’re battling with for the final wild-card spot in the West, the Coyotes.