They don’t usually go winless in a three-game homestand and they don’t normally give up 17 goals during a four-game stretch.
Maybe embarking on a four-game road trip starting Monday night in Anaheim is what the doctor ordered for these slumping Stars following Friday night’s 5-0 lesson in humility administered by the Phoenix Coyotes.
“You go 0-for-3 at home, that's rock-bottom for us,'' Stars captain Brenden Morrow said. "This is some of the worst hockey I've seen from this team in a very long time. The panic button hasn't been hit but the time is now to nip this and move forward.''
The Stars actually dominated play during the second period, outshooting the Coyotes 18-5. But they couldn’t get the puck past Phoenix goaltender Mikael Tellqvist, who made 35 saves for his fifth career shutout.
Overall, Dallas held a 35-26 shots edge, but didn’t get nearly enough traffic in front of the Phoenix net. Bottom line: shaky goaltending from Mike Smith and Marty Turco and some glaring coverage mistakes from a defense that is supposed to be a team strength proved the Stars’ undoing.
"We have to make some saves, get better in our own end and our coverage in front of the net has to get better,’’ coach Dave Tippett said.
The defeat wasn’t the only disappointment for the crowd of 18,208 at the American Airlines Center.
Stars center Mike Modano remained one point short of matching Phil Housley's points record of 1,232 for U.S.-born players.
The 37-year-old Modano, the all-time U.S.-born goal-scorer with 509, has been slumping with two goals and three assists in his first 13
But Stars defenseman Philippe Boucher said Modano’s chase for the record hasn’t caused the players to lose sight of team goals.
“We all want him to get it and me on, but it’s not a distraction,’’ Boucher said. “We just have to do everything better, from effort to competing to focus. We’re getting what we deserve right now.’’
Tellqvist made for an unlikely hero. He was sick with the flu, but he turned in a very healthy performance.
And he got a lot of help, including a shorthanded goal from Radim Vrbata.
“We’ve gotten really strong goaltending, and you’ve got to be a little bit lucky,’’ Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. “All-in, the effort was really strong for us. Our goalie made a couple of big saves or we could have been down 3-2.’’
Tellqvist said after the game that he was too ill to even comment on his play, leaving teammate Daniel Carcillo to do the evaluating.
“The flu bug has been going around,’’ Carcillo said. “He played so good he played himself sick. Obviously we knew (the Stars) were going to come out hard. They haven’t had a lot of success at home and we wanted to get some pucks to the net and some bodies to the net. ’’
Tellqvist, who was credited with an assist on Shane Doan's second-period goal, had to be sharp in the second period when Dallas peppered him with 18 shots. He needed only six stops in the final period to post his first shutout of the season.
Niko Kapanen, Carcillo, Doan, and rookie Martin Hanzal added goals for the Coyotes, who had lost nine of their previous 10 meetings with the Stars. Dallas' last shutout loss to Phoenix was 6-0 on Jan. 12, 2004.
While Stars fans had their eyes on Modano, the Coyotes stormed to a 2-0 first-period lead that prompted Tippett to pull starter Smith and replace him with Turco.
Kapanen, who played for the Stars from 2001-06, notched the first goal of the game with 7:49 left in the opening period when he backhanded a loose puck past a fallen Smith.
Carcillo's rebound with 6:11 remaining in the first gave the Coyotes a two-goal pad and sent Smith to the bench after he stopped seven of nine shots.
The goalie change didn't do Dallas much good as Doan stretched the lead to 3-0 at 3:34 of the second period. Doan, who had just finished serving a penalty, jumped from the box, took a lead pass from Derek Morris and skated in alone to beat Turco.
Hanzal's one-timer from the top of the left circle 26 seconds into the final period and Vrbata's short-handed tally at 11:29 of the third made it 5-0.
The Stars were shutout for the first time this season, and they didn’t like the feeling.
"It’s been a difficult week so we need to get back to work and find ways to win hockey games,’’ Stars forward Stu Barnes said.
Backhand shot -
1 - 0 PHX
Backhand shot -
2 - 0 PHX
Wrist shot -
3 - 0 PHX