ATLANTA - The Stars made sure they got a quick start. Atlanta goalie Ondrej Pavelec, though, had other plans.
Rich Peverley scored the winner 76 seconds into overtime, Pavelec made 42 saves, and the Stars let two leads slip away in a wild 6-5 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers at Philips Arena on Thursday night.
Standing in front of Marty Turco, Peverley deftly tapped-in Maxim Afinogenov's feed from the left circle to complete a tic-tac-toe passing play that sent the Stars to their third straight loss.
Dallas dropped to 2-4 in games decided by overtime, and needed extra time for a league-high 15th time this season thanks in large part to Pavelec, who was red-hot in the first two periods when Dallas jumped out of the gate and outshot the Thrashers by a 33-15 margin.
The 22-year-old made save after save in the first 40 minutes, preserving a 3-3 tie that was ultimately snapped when Stephane Robidas scored his second goal of the game -- and ninth of the year -- on the power play with 15:17 left in the third period.
"We doubled our chances to theirs tonight, and we're pleased with that," head coach Marc Crawford said. "We didn't like the play at the end, but other than that there are many positives to take out of this. Just too many crucial mistakes at the end of the game cost us."
Loui Eriksson eventually sent the game into overtime when he scored his 11th goal of the season in incredible fashion with 1:12 left in regulation. Robidas' hard slap shot from the left point first went off Atlanta defenseman Ron Hainsey's stick before caroming off Eriksson's face shield and into the net.
Robidas also had an assist for a three-point night, Eriksson added a helper, and Jere Lehtinen and Jamie Benn also scored for the struggling Stars, who are 3-3-5 in their last 11 games while winning in regulation just once during that stretch.
Alex Auld allowed three goals on 15 shots before giving way to Turco, who surrendered three more goals on just 10 shots.
The Stars scored twice on the power play and had a shorthanded goal, but also allowed three power-play goals of their own -- as well as a shorthanded tally -- for the second straight game.
It was the first time the Stars lost in Atlanta since the Thrashers entered the league in 1999 (5-1-0), and only the second time they've lost in 12 overall meetings between these two teams.
"In high scoring game that's not the way we want to play," Robidas said. "We want to play better d and help our goalies out. Their power play was impressive and it hurt us tonight."
Peverley had a pair of third-period goals and an assist, Maxim Afinogenov had a goal and two assists, Ilya Kovalchuk had a goal and assist, and Jim Slater and Nik Antropov also scored for Atlanta, which won for the third time in its last four games.
With the game knotted at 3, Robidas gave Dallas the edge when his wrist shot from the right point found its way through traffic and past Pavelec for a 4-3 lead.
But Afinogenov tied it at 4 with 11:33 left, potting Atlanta's third power-play goal of the game. Afinogenov shoveled in a cross-ice pass from Bryan Little after Turco committed on Little before he dished the puck off to Afinogenov.
Peverley broke the tie and gave the Thrashers a 5-4 advantage when he scored a shorthanded goal with 7:14 remaining in regulation. Peverley was able to sneak the puck past Turco's legs with a shot from the right circle as he skated towards the right corner.
"We lost and that is disappointing," Robidas said. "We gave up that shortie at the end, and that was not good. We have to help our goalies. We cannot leave them by themselves."
In the second period, Slater tied it at 2 with 9:13 to go with his first of the season. Skating with the puck around the left side of the ice and towards the back of the net, Slater sent a pass out to Chris Thorburn in front. The puck, though, ricocheted off Matt Niskanen's stick and Auld's pad before going into the net.
The goal came six minutes after Pavelec made three consecutive splendid saves on Mike Modano, Brad Richards and Eriksson. The block on Eriksson was simply scintillating, as Pavelec made a left toe save while doing the splits with his stomach on the ice after Eriksson released a quick one-timer from the slot.
Less than two minutes after Slater scored, the Thrashers took their first lead of the game, 3-2, when Antropov netted his sixth on the power play. From the slot, Peverley slightly whiffed on a wrist shot, but the puck still was able to dribble through Auld's legs after Antropov got a piece of it.
The goal chased Auld, who was making his second start in the past three games.
Benn tied it back up with his sixth of the season with 1:58 left in the second. Off the faceoff in the left circle, Benn jumped in from the slot before unleashing a snap shot that beat a surprised Pavelec to make it 3-3.
The Stars nearly regained the lead with 37.6 seconds left in the second, but once again were victimized by Pavelec, who made another glove save while on his stomach, this time stealing Lehtinen's attempt after a Modano rebound to keep it tied heading into the third period.
"I was pleased with the way our forwards played tonight," Crawford said. "I thought they played great."
Robidas opened the scoring on the power play just 2:12 into the first period. After accepting a pass from Modano, the hard-nosed defenseman sent a shot towards the net from the left point that went in off Atlanta defenseman Zach Bogosian's stick.
Kovalchuk tied it at 6:30 on the power play with his 19th of the year -- and first ever against the Stars. The high-scoring Russian one-timed a shot from the left point that whistled past Auld off a feed from Afinogenov.
Lehtinen helped Dallas regain its lead while the Stars were shorthanded with 3:46 left in the first period. Steve Ott's shot from the right circle was blocked by a defender before popping out to Lehtinen, who let a blistering wrist shot go from the inner edge of the circle for his second of the year to make it 2-1.
"We have to address our consistency and start playing like a team," Robidas said. "These guys are young, but they are good and talented."
The Stars will once again hit American Airlines Center ice on Saturday afternoon when they host arch-enemy Detroit at 2 p.m. (my27). The game marks the beginning of a three-game homestand.
The Red Wings had won four of their last five heading into their game on Thursday night against Tampa Bay.
--Defenseman Trevor Daley missed the game with a shoulder injury sustained against Carolina on Wednesday. He is day-to-day. Jeff Woywitka replaced Daley.
--Midway through the second period the Stars lost defenseman Mark Fistric for the rest of the game because of an upper-body injury. Fistric had an assist on Lehtinen's goal.
-- Lehtinen is three games away from moving into third on the Stars' all-time games played list. He played in his 837th game.
--Robidas scored his sixth and seventh power-play goals, overtaking captain Brenden Morrow for the team lead. Robidas also tied his career-high of nine goals set in 2007-08.
--Lehtinen was whistled for his first penalty of the season in the first period (hooking). He was the only Dallas player to have not registered a penalty this season.
--The Stars were the only team in the NHL that had not surrendered a goal to Kovalchuk.
--Dallas now has two shorthanded goals.
--Modano had a pair of assists, and has points in four of his last five games.
--The last time Dallas lost in Atlanta was on Jan. 18, 2006 by a score of 5-2.