- Mark Stepneski, ESPNDallas.com
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DALLAS -- A sluggish start contributed to the Dallas Stars falling behind Colorado Saturday afternoon and special teams play ended up finishing them off in a 2-1 loss to the Avalanche at American Airlines Center.
Coming off some tough travel from their California road trip, the Stars managed just one shot on goal in in a first period which left them trailing 1-0.
“I thought it took us a while to get going,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “It was tough coming off the trip here to get going, Kari [Lehtonen] did a great job of holding us in until we could get going, we tied it up and then one snuck in.”
The one that snuck in on the Stars was a power play goal by Colorado’s Paul Stastny in the third that snapped a 1-1 tie and gave the Avalanche the victory. The struggling Dallas power play was 0-3 in the game and is now 3-36 over the last eleven games.
“I think it’s a combination of everything and we are obviously lacking confidence in there, too,” said Gulutzan. “We had some shots and we didn’t have net presence. Then we had net presence and didn’t get our shots through. We’ve had chances. … but we’ve got to convert. “
The loss dropped the Stars to tenth place in the Western Conference standings, while Colorado moved into ninth place.
“Obviously we traveled, but that’s just an excuse,” said Stars center Vernon Fiddler. “We need to find a way to get points in these games.”
The Stars first shot on goal in the game didn’t come until 9:48 of the first period. They had a great scoring chance prior to that, but Steve Ott shot high on a breakaway.
The Avalanche, who outshot the Stars 7-1 in the first, scored the lone goal of the period after a miscue behind the Dallas net. After Lehtonen misplayed the puck, Stastny set up David Jones, who backhanded the puck into the goal as Lehtonen scrambled to get back into position at the 10:25 mark.
“I shouldn’t have gone there (behind the net) when I see that they are pressuring so hard,” said Lehtonen. “Their guy was giving me lots of pressure. I should have just stayed in the net and made our D go get it and probably get hit; at least I would have been in front of the net.”
Both teams had good chances in the second, but Avalanche goalie J-S Giguere made a spectacular glove save on a Jamie Benn backhand bid and Lehtonen denied a point blank shot by Cody McLeod and then stopped Milan Hejduk with Colorado on the power play late in the period.
The Stars finally tied the game 5:26 into the third period when Eric Nystrom got a close range bid and Vernon Fiddler backhanded the rebound past Giguere.
But the Avalanche went on the power play with 9:38 remaining when Ott was called for hooking and scored 13 seconds later when Stastny tipped an Erik Johnson shot from the right wall past Lehtonen.
“I should have been more aggressive on that second goal and the first goal was all on me,” Lehtonen said. “That’s two too many in a tight game like. I feel like that was the difference, so it doesn’t feel good right now.”
The Stars had a late power play chance and Michael Ryder had an open side of the net, but couldn’t get control of the puck and Colorado’s T.J. Galiardi broke up the play before Ryder could get off a second chance.
The Avalanche snapped a three-game winless streak (0-2-1) with the victory.
“We had a good effort tonight, I think a good 60 minutes and a good first period, which was a key for us,” said Giguere. “We knew that maybe they would be a little tired from the road trip, so it was important to have a good start and I thought it was just a good road game. A big goal on the power play in the third period to give us the lead and we held strong on the PKs.”
*Stars center Mike Ribeiro missed his third straight game with a knee injury.
*Adam Pardy was the lone healthy scratch for the Stars.
*Saturday’s attendance was 15,838.