If the Dallas Stars are to avoid their longest winless stretch in three years, they must contain the Florida Panthers' offense.
Looking to prevent a seventh straight defeat, the Stars get another crack at the Panthers on Wednesday night in Sunrise, Fla.
After its season was delayed due to COVID-19, Dallas won its first four games. Since that run, the Stars have just one victory in nine games. Following a 6-3 win at Columbus on Feb. 2, Dallas is 0-3-3.
The Stars most recently went without a win over at least seven straight games during an 0-6-2 rut in March 2018.
In Monday's 3-1 loss at Florida, the Stars yielded a whopping 52 shots on goal -- 29 in the second period. If it weren't for the stellar play of goalie Anton Khudobin (3-4-1, 2.66 goals-against average), who stopped 49 of the 51 shots he faced, the outcome could have been more lopsided.
"I think all of us know what went wrong," Blake Comeau, who netted his first goal of the season Monday, told the Stars' official website. "We've got to take some ownership within ourselves.
"It just seems we have certain pieces of our game that are fragmented right now, and we've got to figure out a way to turn that around."
Dallas outscored its first four opponents 19-6 but has only 22 goals since then. The Stars also have allowed three or more goals in seven of the past nine games.
The latter does not bode well against the Central Division-leading Panthers, who rank among the NHL leaders in non-shootout goals (58) and shots-on-goal per game (33.5). Florida defensemen Aaron Ekblad and Keith Yandle each had a second-period goal to erase a 1-0 hole on Monday, and Aleksander Barkov recorded his seventh goal of the season with an empty-netter late in the game.
Florida has won six of its past eight overall and is 6-2-1 at home this season.
"The guys are coming to play each and every night, doing what we have to do," Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said. "Playing right has been very noticeable: If you play hard and you play with purpose, you give your chance shift in, shift out."
Barkov has done so with three goals and seven points over his past five games. Ekblad has scored twice in his past three games while Yandle has five points in the past four.
Teammate Jonathan Huberdeau, meanwhile, has recorded eight of his club-leading 23 points over the past five games. With an assist Monday, Huberdeau has 14 points in 12 career games vs. Dallas.
Florida's Chris Driedger (7-1-1, 2.20 GAA) made 24 saves Monday to win his fourth straight start. Sergei Bobrovsky (5-2-1, 3.18 GAA), however, could get the start for the Panthers while looking to avoid a third consecutive defeat.
--Field Level Media