Stars' home woes inexplicably continue vs. Canes
DALLAS---Maybe it's time to steal part of Al Pacino's famous speech from the pretty forgettable football movie Any Given Sunday, the soliloquy that begins with him saying he doesn't really know what to say.
Well, that's exactly how Dallas Stars fans must feel after seeing their beloved club blow a 2-0 lead and lose 6-4 to the Carolina Hurricanes at American Airlines Center on Tuesday night.
On paper, this appeared to be a game the Stars couldn't lose. Carolina was on a three-game losing streak, had won just once on the road this season and the Canes had never won at the AAC.
In fact, the last time Carolina won in Big D was back in Feb. 1996 when they were known as the Hartford Whalers and the Whale beat the Stars 5-3 at Reunion Arena.
But thanks to a three-point night from Eric Staal (two goals, one assist) and Carolina breaking out with five unanswered goals in the second and early part of the third period, the Stars are again left hanging their heads after yet another home setback, one which especially hurts since it came at the front end of a five-game homestand, not only their longest of the season but a run of games at the AAC that could swing the pendulum either way in how the rest of the season may or may not go.
"This is as big a test as I've ever been through. It's incredible," Stars second-year head coach Lindy Ruff said. "I don't think I've ever gone through anything like this in the home building."
Dallas, who has lost 10 of 12, lost their seventh consecutive home game and are now just 1-5-4 on home ice.
One positive from the game was Stars captain Jamie Benn scoring his first goal in 11 games early in the first period to give Dallas an early lead. Linemate Tyler Seguin added two more goals as he continues to be the NHL's top goal scorer, but such numbers ring hollow for No. 91.
"When you're losing, it picks away anything from personal. I want to do my part and produce and get better in certain situations and areas," Seguin said.
Stars No. 1 goaltender Kari Lehtonen allowed four goals on 16 shots, all coming in the second period before being lifted by Ruff in favor of backup Anders Lindback, who stopped seven of the nine shots he faced in relief of No. 32.
But Ruff isn't about to throw Lehtonen under the bus because like anyone who has seen the Stars play at all this season, he knows that the fact Dallas currently leads the league with 3.67 goals allowed per game is far from Lehtonen's fault.
"Obviously, I've been riding (Lehtonen) a lot. He's not going to like his game; I didn't like his game," Ruff said. "He's been my guy, and he's going to continue to be my guy, but he needs help. We can criticize those goals but we made some plays that we don't need to make. They hurt us. We didn't defend well enough on the first one. He's going through a tough streak."
The Stars continue the homestand on Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes, the same Dave Tippett-coached team they beat in Glendale last week to snap their seven-game winless streak.
But as the homestand marches on and Dallas' season could very well hang in the balance, veteran center Jason Spezza knows the time to right the ship is now, even as Dallas continues to bring up the rear in the Central Division standings.
"It's not an easy league to play catch up. We're not idiots. We know that we've dug ourselves a hole here. But I also know that there's a lot of race track left and we can be better. We can be better as a team, we can be better as individuals," Spezza said.
Dallas will get their latest shot at redemption in front of their home fans, many of whom expressed their displeasure by booing their hometown team, on Thursday, of course hoping for a better response and outcome this time around.
Thursday's game with Arizona will mark the 20th game of the season for Dallas, meaning the regular
season will officially be at the quarter pole in two days' time.
However, according to one Stars veteran, this is no time to panic.
"We're not at our ceiling at all. There's lots of room to grow. It's gut-check time. When you lose so many games in this period of time, it's tough. It's physically draining and it's mentally draining to come from behind. You have to come and work and get yourself out of it, because there's still tons of hockey left to play," Spezza said.
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