Three goals hardly qualifies as a big offensive performance. It does for the Dallas Stars.
Dallas hopes to build on one of its best wins of the season when it opens a three-game road trip against the struggling Florida Panthers.
Jason Arnott had a goal and an assist for the Stars, unbeaten in three straight (2-0-1) following a five-game losing streak.
Generating offense has been the biggest problem for Dallas, which managed just five goals in its previous seven games.
Before Wednesday’s win, the Stars had tied an NHL record by going seven straight games with no more than one goal. Only four other teams have done that in the past 50 years.
“There are 23 guys in this locker room that are pretty embarrassed at the way we’ve played,” forward Brenden Morrow said. “We know we need to improve and play better.”
The struggles of Stars captain Mike Modano have mirrored those of his team. Modano has no goals in 10 games and is a minus-17 this season—one of the worst marks in the league.
“I haven’t had a stretch of hockey like this since I don’t know when,” Modano said. “It’s just one of those years. You just have to keep working through it and hopefully things change.”
Things could get easier for the Stars now that defensemen Richard Matvichuk and Teppo Numminen have returned to the lineup. Matvichuk missed the previous four games with a swollen knee while Numminen sat out 12 games due to a broken foot.
Florida, hoping to end a three-year playoff drought, has just one win in 10 games (1-3-5-1).
“We’re not going to make the playoffs with ties. We have to win games,” Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo said. “We have to play with the desperation level a little bit higher than we have been.”
Panthers right wing Kristian Huselius returned to the lineup Wednesday after he was a healthy scratch in Monday’s 4-1 loss to Detroit. Huselius has one goal in his last 27 games and no points in his past 12 contests.
STANDINGS (through Dec. 17): Stars - 30 points, 3rd place, 6 PB, Pacific Division. Panthers - 28 points, 3rd place, 8 PB, Southeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Stars - Guerin, 17 goals and 29 points; Arnott and Sergei Zubov, 15 assists; John Erskine, 77 PIM. Panthers - Olli Jokinen, 11 goals; Viktor Kozlov, 12 assists; Jokinen and Kozlov, 19 points; Darcy Hordichuk, 54 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 17): Stars - Power play: 85.8 percent (17 for 120), 15th in NHL. Penalty killing: 85.8 percent (103 for 120), 10th. Panthers - Power play: 16.2 percent (19 for 117), 11th. Penalty killing: 83.8 percent (129 for 154), 19th.
2002-03 SEASON SERIES: Stars, 1-0-0-1.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Stars - 3-11-2-0 on the road; Panthers - 5-7-4-1 at home.