<
>

Defense must be better

It's not that hard to figure out, really: If the Stars are going to win, they have to give up fewer goals.

In seven games since the Olympic break, the Stars have given up five goals or more five times. Not surprisingly, they have a 1-5-1 record in those games.

The Stars gave up five goals against Colorado on Sunday despite limiting the Avs to only 22 shots. Marty Turco was benched after giving up the first four goals. Kari Lehtonen gave up the final goal and once again showed a lot of rust in his effort to return from lingering back problems.

The players have many reasons to be frustrated, but it's certainly tough on the forwards to feel like they have to score six goals to win.

"When you give up five goals, it's tough to win in this league," captain Brenden Morrow said. "Over my years in Dallas, that's not been indicative of our team. We've always been tough defensively. ... We've been soft in those areas this year."

The Stars actually showed some defensive progress Friday night in a 2-1 shootout loss to Los Angeles. But the Colorado game again showed leaks. The defensive breakdowns have varied from game to game. One game, it's the defense. The next, it's the goaltending. Penalty killing has been a struggle throughout the month of March. The Stars have allowed seven power play goals on 23 opportunities.

"It's not good enough when you're 1-5-1," coach Marc Crawford said. "It's not good enough when you're getting scored on as often as we are. So you look for the solutions. You look for ways to tighten up."

It won' t get any easier this week. The Stars' next two games are Tuesday against San Jose, tied for second in the West in goals scored, and Thursday against Philadelphia, third in the East in scoring.