Ric Tapia/Icon SMI)
If the Dallas Stars miss the playoffs, the primary reason could be a lack of secondary scoring.
This season, the Stars have been carried in large part by the play of goaltender Kari Lehtonen and their prolific quartet of Jamie Benn, Loui Eriksson, Mike Ribeiro and Michael Ryder.
During March, they have combined for 24 goals in 12 games. The rest of the Stars have scored just six goals, two of which were empty-netters.
The only player to score multiple goals–captain Brendan Morrow with two–was demoted from the second to the fourth line Monday.
Since their ten-game point streak, the Stars have gone 2-4-0 amid a six-team race for three remaining playoff spots that has seen both the L.os Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks pick up their play of late.
“You’ve got to learn how to win. The way we went about it doesn’t look like we want to win. It really doesn’t,” Stars coach Glen Gulutzan told reporters Monday. “They’ve got to figure it out for themselves, they either want it or don’t.”
Monday, the Stars dropped a game to Calgary in which they had two leads, allowing the slumping Flames back into the convoluted Western Conference playoff race.
The defeat symbolized the Stars’ difficulties of late. They lost despite a pair of goals from Benn. They had gone 15-1-1 in the 17 previous games in which Benn produced multi-point efforts, signifying that their best players being their best players may not be enough anymore.
Dallas has also strayed a bit in another area, the penalty kill. During the point streak, they allowed a solitary power-play goal. Against the Flames on Monday, they surrendered three power-play markers on six opportunities.
“We don’t like anybody right now, but we’re not going to help ourselves by taking penalties,” Gulutzan told reporters Monday. “We got to play hard between the whistles and leave it out there.”
The Stars’ remaining schedule presents a challenge as they will play San Jose in the back end of a back-to-back Saturday. Dallas has gone a dismal 1-10-2 in the back end of two-game sets this season.
They will face San Jose twice and four of their remaining six games will be against current division leaders (Vancouver, St. Louis). Playoff-bound Nashville and the fast-paced Oilers will round out their schedule.
“We’d like to go undefeated obviously, but there’s going to be games that you’re going to come out on the wrong end of, but there can’t be too many of those down the stretch,” forward Eric Nystrom told reporters last week. ”We know we’re a great team in here and we’ve got to move forward and learn from our mistakes.”
Ric Tapia/Icon SMI)
Pacific Division Notes
The San Jose Sharks rolled 5-1 over Colorado to ascend to first place in the Pacific … Dan Boyle’s two assists moved him to 500 career points while Joe Pavelski’s two goals nudged him to 300 career points … Reilly Smith, who signed an entry-level deal Sunday, joined the Stars in Calgary Monday. The Miami Redhawks junior had scored 102 points over the past two NCAA seasons … The Stars also signed Boston University’s Alex Chiasson to an ELC, assigning him to the AHL Monday … Dallas’s Brendan Morrow played in game No. 800, the sixth player in franchise history to accomplish that feat … Eric Nystrom left Monday’s game in the first period with a leg laceration, he did not return and will be considered day-to-day with the deep cut …The L.A. Kings had an all-too-familiar feeling Monday as they fell 1-0 to the Vancouver Canucks. Jonathan Quick stopped 24 of 25 shots and the penalty kill dominated, going four-of-four and stifling the Vancouver power play in a losing effort … The Phoenix Coyotes enjoyed the first day of their three-day layoff Monday, hoping the time can help heal Radim Vrbata among others … The Anaheim Ducks Teemu Selanne scored a power-play goal Sunday, drawing him to within one of Phil Esposito for third all-time.