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Stars searching for defensive answers against Sens

Oct 24, 2022; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators center Shane Pinto (57) scores against Dallas Stars goalie Scott Wedgewood (41) in the third period at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Stars have managed to avoid letting losses build up this season, a trend they will look to maintain when hosting the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.

Dallas is coming off a 4-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, its second straight defeat after dropping a 6-5 shootout decision to the Minnesota Wild. It’s only the fourth time this season the Stars have lost consecutive games, and they have yet to lose three in a row.

The club is 1-1-1 to start a five-game homestand and 2-2-2 in the past six games. While the Stars’ potent offense — among the NHL’s best with an average of 3.77 goals for per game (third-most entering Wednesday) — has delivered with at least four goals scored in five of their past seven games, the team has struggled to keep the puck out of its own net, allowing at least four goals in five of their past seven as well.

“We’re trying to walk that fine line where we score and we’re still really solid defensively,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “I think that’s something we’re going to have to look for all year, is to walk that line.”

They’ve trailed by two goals after one period in two of their past four defeats and have been behind entering the third in each of their past four losses.

“We can’t forget our roots,” captain Jamie Benn said. “We need to be hard to play against, better in our D zone, and we can’t be playing from behind by four or five a night.”

The loss to Toronto marked the first time this season that the Stars have been shut out and snapped forward Jason Robertson’s 18-game point streak.

Thursday’s tilt kicks off a brief two-game road trip for the Senators, who are looking to bounce back after falling 5-2 to the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday, a contest in which they trailed 4-1 after the first period.

“We just weren’t ready to play and it starts in here,” Ottawa captain Brady Tkachuk said. “There’s no explanation and there’s no excuses. It’s unacceptable. It’s on us, we just weren’t ready.”

The Senators’ defense took a hit Monday when it was announced that Artem Zub would be out for a month with a broken jaw after he took a puck to the face against the New York Rangers on Friday. Dillon Heatherington was called up from the American Hockey League on Wednesday.

Ottawa had won four of its previous five games before their latest defeat.

A stellar power play has helped fuel the Senators of late, scoring six times over the past three games, including both tallies against the Kings. The Senators’ success rate of 26.9 percent overall slots them among the top 10 in the NHL. They’ve been even better on the road, clicking at 30.6 percent, placing them among the top three teams in the league entering Wednesday.

As the Senators look to get back on track, they’ll do so with some special guests in tow — their fathers, thanks to an annual team ritual.

“It’s always a highlight of the year when the dads are able to come,” Tkachuk said. “For everything they’ve done for us growing up … now is the time to celebrate them and kind of honor them for everything they’ve done. For me, it’s the highlight of the year when we get to have these trips.”

–Field Level Media

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