Defensive Problems

Miami,Fl - When leading after two periods, the Dallas Stars have consistently been able to close out games this season. Until recently, that is.

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The Stars look to rebound from another third-period meltdown on Wednesday night as they face the Florida Panthers, who are dealing with their own late-game issues.

Oddsmakers from Online Sportsbook have made the Panthers –130 money line favorites for Tuesday’s game against the Stars. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 58% of more than 168 bets for this game have been placed on the Panthers -130.

Dallas (19-18-7) closes its two-game swing through the Sunshine State after a 4-2 loss to Tampa Bay on Monday. The Stars led 2-1 after 40 minutes behind goals from Brad Richards and Loui Eriksson, but allowed three third-period tallies for the second time in three games.

"It should have never got to 2-2,'' said Stars coach Dave Tippett, whose team has been outscored 52-31 in the third period in 2008-09. "We made two or three errors in our end that got them the tying goal."

Dallas held a 3-1 lead over Buffalo on Thursday, but allowed three goals in the final 20 minutes of regulation and lost 5-4 in a shootout.

Marty Turco made 16 saves against the Lightning, however, he allowed back-to-back goals in a 3:08 stretch of the third as Dallas fell to 13-1-2 this season when leading after 40 minutes.

Turco is 0-2-0 with a 1.53 GAA in two career road games against the Panthers.

"We need to figure out our third period play, and quick," Turco told the Stars' official Web site. "We are too inconsistent in locking down games. I think the theme of it all is we're not executing and making enough plays, and it's something that needs to be addressed."

So does Dallas' power play on the road. The Stars matched a season high with seven power-play opportunities on Monday but converted just one.

"I think (Tampa Bay) had more chances on our power play than we had chances,'' said Dallas defenseman Stephane Robidas, who was named as an All-Star replacement on Tuesday.

The Stars are 2-of-21 on the power play in their last five games away from American Airlines Center, and have converted a league-worst 11.3 percent (11-of-97) with the man-advantage on the road.

While Dallas looks for ways to hold onto third-period leads, the Panthers are trying to figure out how to gain the upper hand in a shootout.

Florida (21-16-8) lost 3-2 to Buffalo on Monday as the team's two leading goal scorers - David Booth (19) and Nathan Horton (13) - were stopped in the tiebreaker. The Panthers are 2-6 in shootouts in 2008-09.

"It's frustrating,'' Florida rookie coach Peter DeBoer said. "But what are you going to do about it? We can't practice it any more, we've tried different shooters, both goalies haven't had much luck at it. Hopefully, the tide will turn somehow for us.''

Booth's first-period power-play goal on Monday gave him four goals and seven assists as Florida has gone 5-0-3 since losing four straight from Dec. 26-31.

Tomas Vokoun is another major reason for this recent surge, going 4-0-2 with a 2.06 GAA. In his last 12 starts against Dallas, though, Vokoun has won only twice while posting a 2.82 GAA.

The Panthers have won two straight at home against the Stars, most recently a 2-1 overtime victory on March 1, 2007.

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Posted: 1/21/09 1:00AM ET


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