DALLAS (AP) -- Let the Dallas Stars feel some postseason heat, and they respond like defending champions. Give them a chance to stretch their legs, and they seem to kick themselves in the shins.
The Stars have followed every loss this postseason with a victory, the latest being a hard-fought win in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals after being blown out by the New Jersey Devils in the opener.
With the next two games in Dallas, the Stars have as good a chance as they're going to have to take control of this series. Doing so will require reversing their recent trend of missed opportunities.
''I think for us to feel like we're controlling something, we've got to eliminate some mistakes,'' Dallas coach Ken Hitchcock said. ''When you look at the way Jersey has played the last three games of the Philadelphia series and the first game against us, they were on a roll.
''Maybe, hopefully, we gave them something to think about'' by winning Game 2, Hitchcock said. ''But, I think, right now we're still not as good as we're going to have to be if we expect to win this series.''
The Devils are saying the same thing. They believe their 7-3 victory in the opener was more indicative of what they can do than the 2-1 grudge match the Stars won to even the series.
''We had chances,'' said Jason Arnott, whose line's plus-minus ratio soared then swooned the first two games. ''We could have played better. It wasn't our worst game by far. We have to correct the little mistakes and stay positive. We know we can go out and play harder and that's all we have to do.''
To win in Dallas, New Jersey will have to slosh through poor ice and handle a loud crowd that is usually more intent on supporting its team than riding the rivals. An exception will be Claude Lemieux, who is sure to be booed as much for memories from his Colorado days as for his pesky style.
''It's a building that keeps you awake and alive,'' Lemieux said. ''It may have bad ice, but it's a great building with great fans. To me, it's an awesome place to play in.''
The Stars agree. They're 9-1 at Reunion Arena this postseason and have won 11 of 12 playoff games there dating to last year's finals.
''This is a very emotional building for our players,'' Hitchcock said. ''It's a different crowd here. They stick with us for a long time. It's a very significant advantage for us, we feel. And we feel we're going to need it the way Jersey played in Philadelphia, which is a loud building.''
The Devils, though, are 7-2 on the road in the playoffs, which is even better than their 6-4 home mark.
''Our teams tends to play a smarter game on the road,'' Lemieux said.
New Jersey played so strong in the first game that some observers actually mentioned the word ''sweep.'' Opinions formed with the same knee-jerk reaction would give Dallas the momentum, although that's hardly the case.
''After a big game, a big win where we kind of dominate and do all of the little things right, we tend to revert back and don't,'' Devils defenseman Scott Stevens said. ''But I think we came back to earth pretty quickly and realize what got us here. Now, we've got to go back to doing the things that got us here.''
Dallas forward Jamie Langenbrunner will miss his fifth straight game with a knee injury. Hitchcock said Langenbrunner skated Friday; Langenbrunner said he didn't. Either way, it's looking as if he might not play again.
The significance is that Joe Nieuwendyk, the center on his line, seems to play best when paired with Langenbrunner. And the Stars' top line of Mike Modano, Brett Hull and either Jere Lehtinen or Brenden Morrow could use some help.
Hull scored both goals in Game 2 and Dallas' only goal that mattered, the first, in the opener.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.