The Dallas Stars began this week with an impressive win over one of the league's best teams on Monday. Two nights later, their struggles returned as they lost their "attention to detail," according to interim coach Rick Bowness.
Dallas hopes to get back on track Saturday night when it begins a three-game trip through the New York area with a visit to the New Jersey Devils in Newark, N.J.
The Stars are 11-7-1 under Bowness, who took over for the fired Jim Montgomery. Dallas, which won six straight games from Dec. 28-Jan. 9, is 2-4-0 in its last six games and has been outscored 16-4 in its last three defeats.
Dallas entered the break on a lull, as it followed a 4-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Jan. 16 with a 7-0 setback in Minnesota two nights later.
The Stars returned from the break with a 3-2 overtime win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday. The followup, however, was a disappointment and led to a 5-3 home loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"Our attention to detail was nowhere near where it has to be," Bowness said. "It was the complete opposite of what we did against Tampa, another high-scoring team. It shows you that if we don't think about our net first, and we don't pay attention to details, then we're going to be giving up goals that we shouldn't give up."
Alexander Radulov scored twice, but each of those goals came after the Stars continued to make defensive miscues.
While the Stars are in a tight playoff race in the Western Conference, New Jersey's 44 points are the second-fewest in the Eastern Conference.
The Devils are 3-5-2 in their last 10 games since winning three consecutive contests from Dec. 29-Jan. 2. That was part of a 6-2-1 stretch that followed a seven-game losing streak from Nov. 30-Dec. 13.
New Jersey has allowed 182 goals, the second-highest total in the NHL. The Devils also have allowed at least five goals in 18 games and are 0-14-4 in those games.
The latest instance occurred Thursday, when the Devils returned from the break and were handed a 6-5 shootout loss to the Nashville Predators. Thursday also marked the fourth straight loss in which the Devils allowed at least five goals.
"We could have won the game, but it was some mistakes that we probably can do better, probably would have won the game if we would have done it better," New Jersey's Nico Hischier said. "But at the end, we'll take the one point, and I think if you ask everybody in the whole stadium, they'd say this game was never boring."
Pavel Zacha scored twice for the Devils in a game where they took a one-goal lead into the third period. It marked their seventh loss when leading after two periods.
One player who did not score for New Jersey was rookie Jack Hughes, who was benched briefly in the second period and logged 12:57 of ice time. Hughes has six goals and 17 points, but the top overall pick in last year's draft has two goals in his last 28 games.
Despite their struggles, the Devils are looking to keep an impressive streak alive against the Stars on home ice.
The Devils have gained at least one point in their last 13 home meetings with Dallas, going 10-0-3 since a 3-2 loss on March 15, 2000, at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J.
--Field Level Media