Slumping Stars try to end skid against Coyotes

( – The Dallas Stars entered 2014-15 with raised
expectations, but so far things have not gone as planned.

The Stars hope to avoid an eighth straight loss when they visit the Arizona
Coyotes for Tuesday’s battle at Gila River Arena.

Dallas made the playoffs last spring for the first time since 2008 and Lindy
Ruff’s club was expected to improve this season after acquiring centerman
Jason Spezza in the offseason. Spezza is second on the Stars with 13 points,
but he is also sporting a minus-seven rating for a Dallas team that has
struggled keeping the puck out of its own net.

The Stars are 29th in the league with 3.50 goals allowed per game and have
yielded 28 goals during their current 0-5-2 slide.

Dallas, which is sitting last in the Central, lost for the fourth straight
time in regulation on Saturday, as it fell apart in the third period en route
to a 5-3 loss against visiting San Jose.

The Stars led San Jose by a 3-1 count after 40 minutes, but the Sharks scored
four unanswered tallies in the third to skate away with the win.

Tyler Seguin provided all the offense for the Stars, as he recorded a hat
trick to give him 10 goals on the season. Anders Lindback stopped 24-of-28
shots in the loss.

Dallas went 0-3 homestand, giving the club five straight losses as the host
and a 1-3-4 record at American Airlines Center this season. The Stars are
3-3-0 as the guest and hope to turn things around while playing three of their
next four tests away from Big D.

“It’s beyond frustrating,” Spezza said. “We should be good at home. We’ve got
to go on the road and get some wins now.”

The Stars have never lost eight straight since moving to Dallas. The last time
the franchise dropped eight in a row was a nine-game slide during the 1978-79
season when the club was still known as the Minnesota North Stars.

Kari Lehtonen is expected to start in net for Dallas. He is 9-3-4 with a 2.12
goals against average in his career versus the Coyotes.

Dallas defenseman Cody Eakin is questionable for Tuesday with a lower-body
injury that has caused him to miss the last two games.

Stars forward Antoine Roussel is eligible to play tonight after avoiding a
suspension for delivering a sucker punch to San Jose’s Justin Braun on
Saturday. Roussel was fined $5,376.34 by the league on Monday.

While the Stars are hoping to avoid their longest losing streak in over three
decades, the Coyotes will try to get back on track after having their longest
winning streak of the season snapped.

Arizona had won three straight before losing Saturday’s frustrating 1-0
decision against the visiting New York Islanders. The Coyotes went 0-for-5 on
the power play and the game’s only goal came when Frans Nielsen beat Mike
Smith with 2:31 left in the third period.

Smith stopped 31-of-32 shots for Arizona, but he couldn’t stop Nielsen late in
regulation. Mikhail Grabovski skated around the net to the left circle and
backhanded a pass to the slot, where Nielsen beat Smith’s glove with a quick
wrist shot.

The Coyotes had a power-play opportunity after the Nielsen goal, but were
unable to convert. Brian Strait went off for tripping with 1:37 seconds to
play, but Arizona was unable to supply any offense skating 6-on-4 as Keith
Yandle and Shane Doan each fired shots wide of the net.

“We have to find a balance,” Doan said. “We have to generate more offense.”

Arizona fell to 4-3-0 as the host this season, but the Coyotes have five wins
in their last six home tests against the Stars.

The Coyotes have beaten Dallas three times in the last five meetings, but the
Stars have claimed five of the past eight.