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With their offense struggling again, Stars seek solutions for scoring troubles

Through six games, the low-scoring Stars are back at it again, entering Tuesday as the league’s worst 5-on-5 offense.

Stop if you’ve heard this before: The Dallas Stars have trouble scoring goals.

Through six games, the low-scoring Stars are back at it again, entering Tuesday as the league’s worst 5-on-5 offense by scoring just 1.07 goals per 60 minutes. Last year, they were 25th. They were 30th in both 2018-19 and 2019-20.

The Stars were nearly shut out during a 4-1 loss in Columbus on Monday night, saved by Tyler Seguin’s 6-on-5 goal with less than three minutes remaining. Dallas has gone each of the last eight periods without a 5-on-5 goal, the last one coming courtesy of Michael Raffl’s last-minute tally during the first period in Pittsburgh.

Dallas enters Wednesday’s game against Vegas without a win in regulation this season.

“We haven’t had a game yet where we looked and say, ‘Wow, everyone’s going tonight,’” Stars coach Rick Bowness said. “We have 10 guys going and 10 guys not going. Twelve guys going and six guys not going. There’s not 18 skaters on the same page yet.”

The Stars were successful creating scoring chances in the first period in Columbus, and did so primarily by entering the offensive zone with possession of the puck. Denis Gurianov sped through the defense. John Klingberg and Miro Heiskanen fed the transition game. Roope Hintz and Jacob Peterson were trying to make plays.

After the game, Klingberg was asked what was missing from the team’s 5-on-5 offense. He embarked on a long answer that boiled down to one main idea: The Stars need to dump the puck in less.

“I think it comes down to controlling the puck during long stretches, controlling the change,” Klingberg said. “You do all that, you’re going to have a lot more energy and you’re going to play with the puck. A lot of times, you give it away and you chase the puck. If you keep it within the team, it’s not always going to be a perfect play, but if you dump it and you go chase, they’re going to have possession of it.

“So maybe bring it back, keep it within the team. I think you’re going to see yourself, over a couple minutes within that time, you’re going to play a lot more with the puck because you’re controlling the game. I think it’s just got to come down to having poise with the puck, make plays when it’s there and try to control the possession game.”

Under Bowness, the Stars have been one of the most dump-and-chase heavy teams in the league. According to Corey Sznajder’s data, the Stars carried the puck into the offensive zone 43% of the time at 5-on-5, which was the ninth-lowest figure in the league.

Still, last year, the Stars ranked ninth in shot attempts per 60 minutes at 5 on 5, 11th in shots on goal, 12th in scoring chances and seventh in high-danger chances. The offensive creation was still there, but the finish wasn’t.

This year, neither is present.

According to Natural Stat Trick, the Stars are a bottom-five team in shot attempts, shots on goal, scoring chances, high-danger chances and expected goals. They are also last in shooting percentage.

In short, the Stars are generating offense at a minimal rate, and finishing those chances sparingly when they arrive.

There is the chance that the Stars offense improves relative to the rest of the league. Klingberg has only played two games. Jason Robertson has not played any. Seguin, Alexander Radulov and Roope Hintz are working back from significant surgeries.

But the Stars have relied on special teams and goaltending to steal points in the first two weeks, a formula that’s unsustainable throughout a full 82-game season.

“There needs to be a lot of work done, for sure,” Stars captain Jamie Benn said.

Find more Stars coverage from The Dallas Morning News here.

In This Story

Matthew DeFranks. Matt covers the Stars for SportsDay, and previously covered the Florida Panthers for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. He's also covered college football, the Miami Marlins, the Kansas City Royals and the Los Angeles Angels for a variety of outlets. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame.

matthew.defranks@dallasnews.com /mdefranks @MDeFranks
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