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Stars Continue Losing Ground, Drop 3-2 Decision To Nashville in Dallas

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Texas Stars callup Ryan Garbutt had another solid outing in the loss.
Texas Stars callup Ryan Garbutt had another solid outing in the loss.

The Dallas Stars continued to slide in the Western Conference's playoff race with a 3-2 loss Sunday night to the visiting Nashville Predators.

Dallas has now lost five of their last six. They've dropped seven of eleven games overall since the All-Star break, going 4-5-2 in that span with a .455 points percentage.

Once again, for the umpteenth time, the team is still winless on the second night of back to back games. That mark now stands and 0-9-2.

Dallas got off to a solid start in this one and earned a 1-0 lead when Mike Ribeiro brought a puck out in front that found Michael Ryder, who beat Pekka Rinne from point blank in the slow. Two Nashville tallies in the final six minutes would erase a lot of hard work, however, including a Shea Weber goal that crossed the goal line with just 0.1 seconds remaining.

The Stars best (and perhaps) only scoring chance in the second was a Michael Ryder deflection in front that wasn't even recorded as a shot on goal. Both teams recorded only five shots on goal in a largely uneventful frame. The Predators thought they had a three goal lead when a deflected Shea Weber shot rain-bowed over Kari Lehtonen and into the goal but it was ruled that Halishuk pushed the puck in with a glove and the goal was disallowed.

Colin Wilson gave them a 3-1 lead anyway when he out-muscled Tom Wandell and Trevor Daley in the corner, walked out in front and threw a backhand prayer toward the net that beat Lehtonen high.

Much of the third period was played in the Predators end and Pekka Rinne was finally tested a bit in the first 10 minutes. The hard work was not repaid, however, and a largely uneventful period, sans an Alex Goligoski shot from the boards that never should have gotten past Pekka Rinna, passed lazily by to seal the win for Nashville.

Dallas leads the season series two games to one and will depart for a trip to Montreal and Chicago this week as the team continues drifting down in search of points in a desperate playoff race.

Be back in a few with a couple of additional thoughts, but this is a tough one. The trend is just undeniably bad right now and the time grows very, very short and the math gets really ugly...

  • The scoring woes continue for this team. They have a lot of will. They try very hard. They just can't put the puck in the net often enough. That's 32 goals in their last 17 games. That's 14 of the last 17 that they've scored two goals or fewer.
  • Their goal totals at home in their last 9 games: 1, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 3, 2. If you're an optimistic I suppose you could technically say that it's on the uptick. Whatever it is it isn't getting the job done.
  • The Vernon Fiddler line had their quintessential game tonight, representative of their season as a whole. They got caught in their own zone at times, and when they did play with the puck in the Preds zone it was along the walls. They can cycle. They can work it down low. It almost never comes out in front. There's almost never a scoring chance resultant of the effort.
  • Ryan Garbutt continued to avail himself quite nicely tonight, though many (myself included) scratched their heads at the call up. He was noticeable each time out. He passed a puck from the corner to Vincour at the goal mouth that easily could have resulted in a goal. He hit the post behind Rinne with a shot on his next shift. Over 8 minutes tonight compared with 5 in Phoenix.
  • The Alex Goligoski clip saying "All we need to do is score a goal in the third period, and everyone gets a free taco" is becoming something of a punch line in the building, because they're usually in desperate need of one anyway and a taco would be least of the rewards, or because they just have a lot of trouble scoring lately. (Ironically Alex Goligoski scored the taco goal tonight. So someone somewhere has a sense of humor).
  • Dallas out-possessed the Predators tonight and fired far more rubber toward Rinne (63 pucks fired toward the net), but the scoring chance report will be interesting because it's a safe bet that the Preds had the more quality looks. The Predators blocked 22 Dallas shots, including 7 Mike Ribeiro attempts.
  • Loui Eriksson had no shots on goal. He had one missed shot. He had one shot blocked. That was it. The Stars need their best players to be their best players down the stretch and he, for whatever reason, is not getting it done on the score-sheet. Even more un-Loui like tonight, he was credited with no takeaways and two giveaways.

It's getting tough to spin this in a positive way. They needed to come out of the break with their hair on fire like Phoenix has, but instead have a sub-.500 points percentage and have dropped seven of eleven. It's going to be an interesting week for Stars fans as they look for something positive to which to cling. The trade market may or may not provide that spark (or at least conversation piece) depending on what Joe Nieuwendyk is thinking.

There are no easy fixes in sports, after all, and expectations should be kept realistic. There is still time to turn things around, but the pace at which they must collect points to get above 90 now is daunting to say the least. It could all start with a win in Montreal. Time will tell.