Scuffling Stars hope for turnaround vs. Flames

NHL

Coming off a fourth straight loss in which they erased a third-period deficit only to lose via shootout, the Dallas Stars are already at a crossroads.

As the Stars visit the Calgary Flames on Thursday in the second chapter of a three-game road trip, they are well aware that what’s transpired so far isn’t good enough.

With only three wins in nine games to start the season, and none of those victories coming in regulation time, the Stars are floundering and in dire need of a positive to build upon.

Could the pair of third-period goals that forced overtime in Tuesday’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Winnipeg Jets to kick off this road trip be that first building block?

“Yeah, I think we can build from that, kinda play that way from the start of the game,” defenseman Esa Lindell said. “You know, we haven’t been that good at the starts, and that’s something we can improve.”

The Stars, one of only two teams who haven’t claimed a regulation-time victory (the other is the winless Arizona Coyotes), have not only been outscored the first period of games this season, but that deficit is by a bigger margin during second periods.

Consistency has definitely been an issue.

“It’s disappointing for us, obviously,” defenseman John Klingberg said. “We need to stay within our game for longer times. We know we’re not going to play perfect for 60 minutes, but we need to find ways to control the momentum better and be better for 60 minutes overall.”

After all, relying on third-period comebacks is no recipe for success.

“We had some really good looks in the third (period against Winnipeg), so I was encouraged by that,” coach Rick Bowness said. “We know we can do better, and … move on to Calgary.”

The Flames return to action after watching their six-game winning streak snapped by a 3-2 overtime loss to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday. Calgary, which is on a 6-0-2 run since dropping its season opener, outshot the Predators by a 40-22 margin, but still needed a third-period comeback to earn the single point.

“You know what? It’s still a step for us. It’s a battle-back point,” coach Darryl Sutter said. “You come from behind in the third, that’s a point. That point is a big point for you. … In the past, this team wouldn’t have got a point.”

It’s a fair comment from the coach who in the middle of last season took over a team that was struggling to win with any consistency and was notorious for performances that left their effort being questioned.

“We were all over them,” said forward Matthew Tkachuk. “We’ve just got to bear down and bury our chances … Could have had four or five after the first period.”

Calgary forward Brett Ritchie is expected to miss some time after leaving Tuesday’s game following a second-period fight with Mark Borowiecki. Brad Richardson will likely step into the lineup for the first time this season.

Richardson, who won a Stanley Cup with the Los Angeles Kings in 2012 — a team coached by Sutter — signed as a free agent in the summer and was injured during the preseason.

–Field Level Media

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