Before opening a critical six-game homestand, Dallas Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk said his team needed to win at least five times to "stay in the mix" for a playoff spot. By losing the opener, the pressure is intensified for the remainder of this stretch.
The Stars again look to break out of their funk when they continue their homestand Sunday against the Colorado Avalanche.
Dallas (29-25-13) was just one point out of eighth place in the Western Conference before the Olympics, but lost four of its first five after the Vancouver Games, prompting Nieuwendyk to make those comments.
Friday's opener of the homestand, however, looked all too similar to the other games the Stars have played since the break, and they lost to Los Angeles 2-1 in a shootout.
"We're fighting for our lives," defenseman Stephane Robidas said. "It's like Game 7 of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and that's the approach we've got to have every night."
A major reason for Dallas' recent struggles is its inability to score.
The Stars have notched one goal in losing each of their last three home games after winning 10 of their previous 12 at the American Airlines Center. Against the Kings, captain Brenden Morrow had the lone goal and Dallas was denied on all six shootout attempts to waste a solid performance by Marty Turco, who finished with 27 saves.
"We have to take care of our next game," coach Marc Crawford told the Stars' official Web site. "The next game is huge, we have to build off our confidence we generated here and use a formula that is similar. We did a lot of good things in the defensive zone. They didn't get anything easy, which is really positive. And on the other side, I think our offense will be better as we move forward."
This offense could be in for another tough time, though, as the Avalanche (38-23-6) are among the league leaders in goals allowed with 176.
Colorado's defense was stellar again Thursday against Florida, as Craig Anderson made 27 saves in a 3-0 win to move into a tie for the NHL shutout lead with seven. One of Anderson's shutouts this season came against Dallas on Jan. 24, as he stopped 27 shots in a 4-0 victory.
The seven-year veteran is 2-1-0 with a 2.01 goals-against average in three career starts against the Stars, and Colorado is 2-1-0 against them this season, losing 3-2 at Dallas on Jan. 29.
Anderson is in his first season with the Avalanche after spending the previous three with the Panthers, and his former teammates aren't surprised he's helped Colorado stay within striking distance of Northwest Division-leading Vancouver.
"He's a good goalie. He works hard and he's come a long way," Florida forward David Booth said. "He's going to take that team far."
Paul Stastny's play has also contributed to Colorado's success.
Stastny, who leads the Avs with 50 assists and 64 points, scored twice Thursday and has two goals and eight assists during a six-game point streak. Colorado is 9-2-1 when he scores a goal.