Dallas' frantic final frame still wasn't enough to overcome two sluggish stanzas.
Up by three to open the third period, the Colorado Avalanche staved off the Stars late rally to pull out a 5-4 win at American Airlines Center on Saturday afternoon.
Milan Hejduk scored twice, and Darcy Tucker, John-Michael Liles and Tyler Arnason also scored for the Avalanche, which won for the second straight time while snapping a five-game losing skid in Dallas.
Paul Stastny added three assists, and Joe Sakic and Wojtek Wolski contributed a pair of helpers. Goalie Andrew Raycroft made 26 saves to improve to 3-0 lifetime against Dallas.
Brad Richards and Loui Eriksson each had a goal and assist, and rookie forwards Fabian Brunnstrom and James Neal also scored for the slumping Stars, losers of two straight. Marty Turco, meanwhile, surrendered five goals on 22 shots, the third time in five starts he's given up five or more goals.
Despite the defeat, it was a step in the right direction for the Stars, who were coming off a 6-1 blowout loss to St. Louis on Thursday.
"We took some good steps and showed some good effort coming back in the third," Richards said. "We didn't give them anything in the third and we have to keep building on things."
Coach Dave Tippett agreed.
"We played better," he said. "We need to continue to build on some aspects of our game. But if you need to score six to win, it is going to be very difficult. It digs at our coaching staff, and we know what's expected around here. We showed some signs early, but some errors ended in the back of our net and then we had to chase the game."
After goals by Eriksson and Richards made it 5-4, the Stars thought they had tied the game with 7 1/2 minutes left in regulation when Brenden Morrow redirected Richards' pass into the Colorado net on the power play. But after a three-minute video review, it was ruled that Morrow had knocked the puck in with his left hand.
"They aren't involved in the game, they just see some replays in a room in Toronto and it was just a bad call," Morrow said. "I know what happened…it just bounced off my glove and it wasn't intentional by any means. The puck hit off me."
"In my opinion, that's a goal no matter what replays they were looking at," added Richards. "But we have to stop worrying about the refs and get our work done in a business like approach."
With a minute to go and Morrow and Stastny both in the penalty box, the Stars had one final chance to get the equalizer while Turco was pulled for an extra attacker. But Richards' point-blank shot from the slot whistled wide, dashing Dallas' comeback bid.
Instead of possibly sending the game into overtime, the Stars were sent to their third regulation loss in five games.
"We aren't collecting points," Morrow said.
There are plenty of factors that are causing Dallas' dizzying 1-3-1 start, including a puzzling problem in the second period. Last season, the Stars had the best middle-frame goal differential in the league, but they've been outscored by a 6-1 margin in the second period over the last two games, with three of those half-dozen goals coming on the power play.
On Saturday, the Avalanche broke it open with three second-period tallies.
"We let the game get too far ahead," Morrow admitted.
The Stars began their rally two minutes into the third when Eriksson scored his first of the year, sending a wrist shot past Raycroft from the lower part of the right circle after Mike Ribeiro whipped a no-look pass out from the right corner.
Richards got Dallas as close as 5-4 almost five minutes later, potting his second goal with a wrist shot from the slot. Stephane Robidas' blast from the right point went off a skate and right to Richards, who capitalized on the fortunate bounce.
In the second period, Hejduk made it 3-2 five minutes in on the power play, one-timing a Sakic pass from the left circle.
Liles increased Colorado's bulge to 4-2 with just under seven minutes left with another power-play tally.
Colorado ended the second-period blitz when Arnason converted a Turco gaffe behind the net with just under two minutes to go. Turco coughed up the puck to Wolski, and Arnason deposited Wolski's pass into a gaping Dallas net.
"I was trying to give my defensemen some time and that's the way it goes sometimes," Turco said. "It's frustrating and disappointing but I have a lot of faith in this group that we can do a lot of things so much better."
Neal tied the game at 2 just 13 seconds into the second period, converting Mike Modano's slick pass to the right of Raycroft and behind the goal line.
The Avalanche opened the scoring when Hejduk notched his fourth of the year 6:44 in. Stastny picked-off Modano's pass in the neutral zone, then raced into the Dallas zone on a mini 2-on-1 with Hejduk. Stastny was able to slip the puck to Hejduk, who put the puck past Turco from the slot.
Dallas tied it with a power-play goal by Brunnstrom with 3 1/2 minutes remaining in the first. From the low slot, Brunnstrom popped in his fourth after receiving Morrow's nifty no-look, behind-the-back pass from down low that went between Avalanche defenseman Scott Hannan's legs.
Colorado restored its one-goal edge when Tucker scored a little over a minute later. Wolski outraced Trevor Daley to a loose puck just outside the Dallas blueline that created another 2-on-1. Wolski sent a pass to Tucker in the high slot, and the former Toronto Maple Leaf pest wristed a low shot along the ice that eluded Turco to the glove side for his first Avalanche goal.
The Stars will now embark on a three-game tour of Gotham starting on Monday when they play the red-hot New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden (6, FSN). The Rangers earned a league-high 12 points in their first seven games, and boasted a sparkling 6-1 record going into Saturday night.
The Rangers game marks the beginning of a stretch that finds the Stars playing eight of their next 10 away from home.
"It's a good time for us to mesh and come together on the road," Morrow said. "The young guys have performed well from day one. We just have to get our top guys performing."
--Defenseman Doug Janik made his Dallas debut, sending Mark Fistric to the press box. Janik, though, only had five minutes of ice time after he was forced to leave in the second period when he took a puck to the face.
--Forward Jere Lehtinen missed his fifth straight game to start the year because of a troublesome groin. He practiced on Friday, but still is day-to-day.
--Winger Steve Ott returned after missing two games because of an injury. He bloodied Colorado forward Ian Laperriere's face in a first-period scrap.
--Ribeiro is one point shy of 300 career NHL points.
--Interestingly enough, both teams that lost in the conference finals last season are having a hard time getting on track. The Stars and the Eastern Conference Philadelphia Flyers have begun the year with a 1-6-2 combined mark.
--Dallas cashed-in on 1-of-4 power play opportunities, and is now 3-for-25 for the season (12 percent).
--Colorado scored twice on eight man-advantage opportunities. The Avs came in with the eighth-best PP unit.
--Coming in Dallas had outscored the Avalanche 9-1 in the last two meetings at American Airlines Center.
--Morrow has points in four of the first five games (1-3-4).
--Richards now has consecutive multi-point games at home.
--Modano is 12 points shy of 1,300 for his career.
Wrist shot -