DALLAS — The Wild will have a season-longest losing streak waiting for the team when it restarts after the NHL's holiday break.
Playing for just the second time in eight days after two games last week were postponed by COVID-19 cases with the opposition, the Wild fell 7-4 to the Stars on Monday in front of 18,237 at American Airlines Center to drop its fourth straight game.
On Monday night, the NHL announced a shutdown on all games after Tuesday's action until Dec. 27 because of the latest COVID surge.
"The biggest thing in our game right now is it's just in pieces right now," Marcus Foligno said. "There's not great flow. You're seeing some great things again, but then there's a little bit of a lull or just a hiccup."
A discombobulated Wild could never find the lead, giving up a goal on the game's first shot and then getting blitzed by a Dallas lineup that capitalized shorthanded, at even strength and on the power play before scoring into an empty net after the Wild initially pulled goalie Cam Talbot with 9 minutes, 20 seconds to go in the third period while trailing 6-3.
The seven goals surrendered by the Wild are a season high.
"When you spot a team two goals, the chances of winning are very slim," Foligno said.
Although the Wild was coming off two practices, the team still looked out of sorts.
Joe Pavelski shoveled a backhander past Talbot just 1:31 into the first period, and that deficit doubled at 3:24 when a Talbot clearing attempt was intercepted by Esa Lindell for the first shorthanded goal scored against the Wild this season.
"Thought I could catch a few of their guys changing," said Talbot, who made 22 saves. "Just poor judgment on my part."
The Wild charged back, starting with Ryan Hartman finishing off a Kirill Kaprizov pass for his team-leading 14th goal before Foligno forced a turnover behind the net and set up for Kevin Fiala to even the score with 4:18 left in the first.
But before the period adjourned, the Stars regained the lead when Tyler Seguin stepped into a shot off the rush only 1:01 after Fiala's equalizer.
That hole grew at 8:02 of the second when Roope Hintz's shot from the left circle sailed by Talbot for Dallas' lone power-play goal during four tries.
Soon after, the Wild took another hit when Joel Eriksson Ek left the game after getting tied up with the Stars' Jani Hakanpaa and crashing into the boards.
Eriksson Ek suffered an upper-body injury that coach Dean Evason said "doesn't look good," and the center was spotted after the game wearing a sling.
"He gets grabbed, and they talked to us that he got just pushed," Evason said. "It just doesn't make any sense. It's frustrating that a guy gets hurt on a play like that that obviously is an illegal play."
Once again, the Wild clawed back within a goal, with Kaprizov scoring his second goal in as many games with 2:23 left in the second. But two goals by Dallas' Jacob Peterson and Miro Heiskanen a minute apart, beginning at 2:02 of the third, gave the Stars their largest advantage of the night.
Just past the midway point of the period, Talbot went to the bench for an extra attacker ("It was a no-brainer for us," Evason said of the early pull) and Fiala scored his second of the game at 15:06 during the Wild's third power play for Fiala's first multi-goal game of the season. Kaprizov's assist on the play was his third point of the game and his league-leading 25th since Nov.18. Dallas goalie Jake Oettinger finished with 19 saves.
The Wild continued to play without Talbot, who reappeared briefly after an icing call. But after he went back to the bench, Jamie Benn flung the puck into an empty net with 1:32 to go to cap off the scoring and put an exclamation point on the Wild's current rut.
"Hopefully it helps," Talbot said about the upcoming time off. "We got some banged up bodies. Hopefully that gives us a chance to get healthy and get guys back in the lineup. Sometimes you do need a reset after these games. Get some family time in, reset, recharge and come back ready to go after the break."