A two-game losing streak is not the end of the world for the Dallas Stars at this juncture.
Even so, the Stars are well aware of the need to snap their skid as they finish a six-game road trip with Saturday’s clash with the Calgary Flames.
The Central Division-leading Stars (37-19-13, 87 points) sit one point ahead of the Minnesota Wild and three up on the Colorado Avalanche heading into Saturday’s action. Minnesota has one game in hand and the defending Stanley Cup champion Avalanche have two games in hand.
A 4-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday, following the 5-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks two nights earlier, has impacted the standings for Dallas.
“It’s been tight for a while, not just now,” forward Joe Pavelski told the Stars’ website. “Teams are playing good, teams are winning games, and you’re going to get games like this at the end of the year. It’s nothing new, it’s nothing unexpected. It only gets harder, really.”
Being without forwards Tyler Seguin (leg laceration) and Mason Marchment (knee) has affected the Stars. Defenseman Miro Heiskanen is on a nine-game point streak, with three goals and 15 points, and rookie Wyatt Johnston has scored in three consecutive games, but Dallas needs others to step up.
Even so, now is not a time to panic.
“We weren’t going to win the conference by 10 points to begin with, so we’re right in the middle of where we want to be,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “We’ve got to execute and win some games.”
The Flames (31-24-14, 76 points) are three points behind the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild-card spot, but they gave their playoff hopes a jolt with Thursday’s 7-2 road win over the Vegas Golden Knights.
“It’s a huge win,” said forward Blake Coleman after a two-goal outing. “Obviously we had trouble with third periods and putting teams away, but start to finish, I thought we did a pretty good job not taking our foot off the gas. It’s two big points for us.”
The Flames have a 4-1-1 record in their last six games — with the regulation-time loss coming at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks and the overtime defeat against the Arizona Coyotes, two clubs that will not make the playoffs.
Every win Calgary can manage right now is huge, but the Vegas one did have extra oomph. Not only was it the first time the Flames have ever won in Sin City (after sporting a 0-7-1 record prior to Thursday’s game), but it also came after they saw a 2-0 lead evaporate. Coleman’s first goal of the night 83 seconds after it became a 2-2 game late in the second period ultimately held up as the winner on a night when Tyler Toffoli collected two goals and two assists.
“I think we’ve stayed in the moment and have tried to do that for quite a while,” coach Darryl Sutter said. “If you think about it, we’ve been in so many one-goal games all year. You could easily walk away from it and say, âWell, this isn’t going to work,’ but that hasn’t happened with our club yet.”
Now the quest is for the Flames to compile a lengthy winning streak.
“We know the importance of every game now,” defenseman MacKenzie Weegar said. “We basically have to win every game and that’s the mentality going forward.”