Patrick Sharp

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 11:  Head coach Lindy Ruff of the Dallas Stars watches from the bench during the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on November 11, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona. The Stars defeated the Coyotes 4-3.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Frustration reaching peak levels for Stars and their coach

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The Dallas Stars are one frustrated hockey team.

Last night’s 3-1 loss to the Wild was just their latest setback. Afterwards, the comments were telling.

“I don’t know if I have ever been through a stretch like this,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said, per the Dallas Morning News. “That first period was puck possession, and we did a good job in all areas, and we come away with nothing again. The bounces aren’t going our way.”

“I’m kind of at a loss for words right now,” forward Patrick Eaves told reporters. “I thought we’ve been playing some pretty good hockey and not getting results. It’s just the way it’s going, but we’ll work our way out of it.”

The Wild opened the scoring with just one second left in the first period on a power-play goal by Ryan Suter. The Stars had dominated early on, but couldn’t beat Minnesota’s backup, Darcy Kuemper.

Dallas has now dropped six of its last seven and sits seven points back of Calgary for the second wild-card spot. With the March 1 trade deadline looming, it appears GM Jim Nill will be a seller. Eaves and Patrick Sharp are both pending UFAs who could be auctioned off.

It has been an extremely disappointing season for the Stars, last year’s Central Division champs. There was frustration even before the games started, with Valeri Nichushkin bolting for the KHL. Then came all the injuries, and the goaltending never improved either.

For Nill, it’s going to be a challenging offseason. He has to fix the goaltending somehow, but first he has to decide if Lindy Ruff is the right coach.

How quickly things can change in the NHL. Ruff was a Jack Adams finalist in 2016. Now he’s on an expiring contract, with no guarantee of a job next season.

No hearing scheduled for Niederreiter after Sharp hit

PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 25:  Nino Niederreiter #22 of the Minnesota Wild skates against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on February 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated the Wild 3-2.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Minnesota’s Nino Niederreiter isn’t scheduled to face a disciplinary hearing for his hit on Dallas’ Patrick Sharp on Thursday night, an NHL spokesman confirmed.

Niederreiter was given a five-minute interference and game misconduct in the late stages of the Wild’s 3-1 win.

The hit sent Sharp cartwheeling to the ice, though, upon replay, Niederreiter got his skates tangled with Radek Faksa prior to the collision. That appeared to send the Wild forward into Sharp’s path inadvertently.

As such, it’s not a big surprise the 24-year-old escaped supplementary discipline.

There was some concern about Sharp, who’s missed significant time with concussion issues this season and appeared to be shaken up on the play. Thankfully for him and the Stars, he appeared no worse for wear.

That said, Dallas head coach Lindy Ruff didn’t like the hit. At all.

“I just saw a pretty dirty hit on Sharp, that’s all I saw,” Ruff said following the game. “Cutting a guy’s knees out, that’s pretty tough.”

Niederreiter ejected as Wild hand Stars another crushing loss

CALGARY, AB - FEBRUARY 17: Nino Niederreiter #22 of the Minnesota Wild in action against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on February 17, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
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Thanks to their 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night the Dallas Stars were losers for the third game in a row and the seventh time in the past eight games.

This recent stretch leaves the Stars seven points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference with 23 games to play on the schedule, and puts their playoff chances in serious jeopardy.

The Stars fell behind with less than one second to play in the first period when Ryan Suter scored a buzzer-beating goal off of a slick set face off play. The Stars were never able to tie the game after that.

Along with another loss, the Stars were also on the receiving end of some physical play late in the game.

After Charlie Coyle was penalized for taking out goaltender Kari Lehtonen behind the net (see it here), Wild forward Nino Niederreiter was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for interference for this hit on forward Patrick Sharp.

No word yet from the NHL if Niederreiter will face a hearing for the play.

Stars coach Lindy Ruff was asked about the play after the game.

“I just saw a pretty dirty hit on Sharp. That is what I saw,” said Ruff. “You know, cut the guy’s knees out. Pretty tough.”

While the Stars are in trouble when it comes to making the playoffs, the win helps the Wild extend their lead in the Central Division to seven points over the Chicago Blackhawks.

With trade deadline looming, Jim Nill facing reality in Dallas

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24:  Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill is pictured during round one of the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Jim Nill is realistic about the Dallas Stars’ chances of making the playoffs.

They aren’t good.

“You have to go on a run here eventually,” the Stars’ general manager told SiriusXM NHL radio this morning. “We’ve been win one, lose one, win two, lose one — eventually, you gotta go on a run where you win three, four, five games in a row if you’re going to get back in it.”

In the wake of last night’s painful loss to Nashville, it’s estimated the Stars will need to go around 16-6-3 in their final 25 games in order to make the playoffs. That’s a tall order for a team that’s been plagued by injuries, poor defensive play, and substandard goaltending.

“We’ve been decimated by injuries again,” said Nill. “We haven’t had our full team all year. So it’s been tough to get a handle on things. But in the end, the excuses don’t matter. You’ve still got to find ways to win games.”

The Stars have three games before they get their bye week, and then it’s only three more games until the March 1 trade deadline.

“I’m going to know in the next week or 10 days where we’re at,” said Nill. “We’ll have to make decisions moving forward after that bye week.”

Expect forwards Patrick Eaves and Patrick Sharp, both pending unrestricted free agents, to garner interest should the Stars start selling. Depending on his health, defenseman Johnny Oduya could be in play as well.

The real challenge for Nill will come this offseason, when the goaltending situation can be ignored no longer. Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi are each signed through next season, but at least one of them will have to be bought out or traded. Whether the answer is Marc-Andre Fleury, Ben Bishop or some other goalie, the fan base is justifiably clamoring for change between the pipes.

A decision will also need to be made about the head coach, as Lindy Ruff’s contract expires at the end of the season.

But first things first — tomorrow in Winnipeg, the Stars take on the equally desperate Jets.

“We’re living game by game here, we know that,” said Nill.

And the number of games is quickly running out.

No concussion, but also no timetable for Spezza after big Lowry hit

DALLAS, TEXAS - APRIL 09:  Jason Spezza #90 of the Dallas Stars celebrates his hat trick against the Nashville Predators in the third period at American Airlines Center on April 9, 2016 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Health problems have plagued the Stars all season, and that trend continued on Thursday as forward Jason Spezza was knocked out of action in a loss to the Jets.

Now, it sounds like Spezza will be out for the foreseeable future.

“Right now we really don’t have a time frame on it, but it’s more than days,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said, per the Stars’ Sean Shapiro. “I’ll just be honest. It’s an upper body injury that doesn’t have anything to do with anything old.

“It’s not a concussion. It’s going to take a week or two, maybe longer.”

The hit in question:

As mentioned above, it’s been a nightmare season for Dallas in terms of injuries. Only two players have appeared in all 52 games — Tyler Seguin and Devin Shore — while the likes of Cody Eakin, Patrick Sharp, Ales Hemsky and Jiri Hudler have all missed at least 20 games each.

As a result, Dallas has struggled with consistency and developing chemistry. It’s also been robbed of a projected lineup that was armed to the teeth with offensive ability.

The Stars are only three points back of St. Louis for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference, but also need to leapfrog three teams — Vancouver, Winnipeg and Calgary — to get there. Being without Spezza, who sits third on the team in assists, will make that task more difficult.