At 9:12 p.m. on Thursday night, after the second period of the Stars’ lifeless, lethargic 2-1 loss to Los Angeles, the boos rained from the upper deck of American Airlines Center, and echoed from the club level, and from the lower bowl.
The 18,045 fans in attendance on Thursday night were fed up with the Stars. They accumulated 11 shots on goal through the first 40 minutes, and finished with 30 for the game. Two more power plays passed without a Dallas goal. And the Stars’ offense spun fruitlessly again versus one of the league’s worst teams.
The Stars losing streak stretched to four games with the loss to the Kings, who entered the night with the worst record in the NHL. It is their second four-game losing streak in the last 19 games.
Esa Lindell’s third period goal ended the Stars’ goalless streak at 130 minutes and 21 seconds, when Erik Condra last scored against the Blues. With Condra now in the AHL, no Stars player on the ice Thursday had scored in the last 181 minutes and 47 seconds before Lindell, when Jamie Benn scored late in Philadelphia.
The Stars entered the night as the third-worst offensive team in the league and exited trailing only the Kings in number of games this season with two or fewer goals. Dallas has been held to that in 28 of its 48 games.
The loss came after a promising performance against Tampa Bay, albeit in a defeat. At even-strength against the league-leading Lightning on Tuesday, the Stars controlled play and generated chances. A toothless power play doomed the Stars, but Dallas pulled the positives out of the performance.
The pace and urgency was there Tuesday, coach Jim Montgomery said. The Stars were dangerous in transition and sound defensively. They were able to hold Tampa Bay to just 40 shot attempts and looked like the fast team both Montgomery and general manager Jim Nill want to see.
“When we’re playing well, that’s the way we’re playing,” Montgomery said before Thursday’s game.
Those Stars were absent until the third period. They barely tested Kings goalie Jack Campbell, and struggled to possess the puck through the neutral zone. The rush chances that were there against the Lightning evaporated against Los Angeles.
In the third period, the Stars pressured the Kings, but couldn’t crack Campbell until late. Mattias Janmark had a partial breakaway stoned. Radek Faksa hit the post on a deflection. Jamie Benn dinged the crossbar. Miro Heiskanen’s wrister was gloved, and Campbell swallowed almost everything else.
The Stars (23-21-4) were five points up on a playoff spot just a week ago. They were in third place in the Central Division. But a crowded Western Conference rapidly closed in on Dallas during the four-game losing streak. Entering the day, eight teams were within five points of each other in the West.
They finished the day just one point up on Edmonton and Anaheim for the final playoff spot.
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