If the Dallas Stars are to repeat as Western Conference champions -- or simply make the playoffs -- they're going to have to start winning some close games.
The Stars have been in 11 one-goal games this season and have won just two of them.
That included Saturday's 4-3 loss at Columbus as the Blue Jackets' Zach Werenski scored with 4.5 seconds remaining in overtime. The teams will complete their two-game series on Sunday.
It was the Stars' sixth consecutive loss when the game extends past regulation.
"I thought our game was probably as good as you're probably going to get until a couple execution errors," said Stars forward Andrew Cogliano, who had a goal and an assist Saturday.
"They find the back of the net and the game changes. You can only take so many moral victories at this point. We need to win games. We need to find ways to win," he said.
The Stars seem to have no problem winning blowouts -- their past five victories are by five, five, three, three and four goals -- but they haven't triumphed in a one-goal game since Jan. 26 and are 2-3-6 in those situations.
"There is no room for error," Stars coach Rick Bowness said.
"When we get those chances like we had in overtime, you would hope they would go in. We had some unreal looks at the end of the third period. It's unreal the chances we had and we didn't score. All those come back to bite you in these one-goal losses. Were the opportunities to win that there in regulation? Absolutely, late in the third," Bowness said.
Goaltender Jake Oettinger made 22 saves for the Stars, including stopping a penalty shot by Emil Bemstrom with the score tied 3-3 at 9:02 of the third.
Werenski and Max Domi each had a goal and an assist for the Blue Jackets, who snapped a three-game skid. Jack Roslovic added three assists, and Elvis Merzlikins stopped 27 shots.
The goal was just the second of the season for Werenski, who led NHL defensemen with 20 last year. It came off a rebound of a shot by Oliver Bjorkstrand.
"He shot it, and I just tried to follow the rebound. Not much to it," Werenski said. "It wasn't the best game, but we found a way to win. That's the important thing."
Both the fifth-place Blue Jackets and seventh-place Stars remain out of playoff position in the Central Division, although Dallas still has at least three games in hand on every other team in the division because of coronavirus postponements.
"We found a way to win; that's what it is all about," Domi said. "We knew we had to be better. We took it upon ourselves. No one is going to come and save us.
"Anytime you win, no matter what team you are, where you are in (the) standings, what time of year, a win is a win. That is why we play hockey. No one wants to lose. This was a huge two points (Saturday). Get ready to go (Sunday) and hopefully do the same thing."
--Field Level Media