A five-day layoff was not good to the Flyers. Neither was Dallas goalie Antti Niemi.
The Flyers seemed out of sync in the first two periods and Niemi was sharp throughout the game, helping the Stars stretch their winning streak to four games with a 2-1 win at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night.
The Flyers (2-2-1), who had shutout wins in their two previous games, will try to regroup in Boston on Wednesday.
Sean Couturier scored on a rebound with 11 minutes, 3 seconds left to cut Dallas' lead to 2-1.
With 5:20 remaining and the Flyers on a power play, Niemi stopped Wayne Simmonds in front, then made a sprawling stop to deny Michael Raffl on the rebound.
"We had our chances and took over at times," said Couturier, whose team outshot the Stars, 35-32. "We just didn't capitalize."
Lost in the giddiness over the Flyers' strong defensive play recently: the team's inability to finish plays down the offensive end.
The Flyers have eight goals in five games (1.6 per game), their power play is 1 for 13 in the last three games, and their top line - Claude Giroux centering Raffl and Jake Voracek - has produced just one goal.
Giroux (eight shots), Voracek (six) and Raffl (three) had some good looks Tuesday, but Niemi had all the answers.
Niemi, making his first appearance at the Wells Fargo Center since he won the Stanley Cup with Chicago in 2010, made 34 saves.
"There are games like that where you get a lot of chances . . . and we had second chances, too. He made a lot of good saves," Giroux said.
The Flyers were badly outshot and looked rusty in the first period. Maybe it was the five-day layoff. Or maybe it was because they were facing a speedy, relentless Dallas team that leads the NHL in goals per game.
Dallas had a 14-7 shots domination in the first period and took a 1-0 lead on a bizarre goal with 51.8 seconds left in the session.
From deep in his own zone, Dallas defenseman John Klingberg fired the puck off the side boards in the Flyers' end. Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning failed to corral the bouncing puck, and Jamie Benn got a piece of it and sent a slow bouncer in front to Tyler Seguin, who batted a knuckleball-like shot that beat Steve Mason to the short side.
"I saw the replay and I think it was kind of a lucky bounce," Giroux said. "We wish we had [that luck] tonight. I'm sure soon we're going to have those bounces."
The goal was the first allowed by the Flyers in two-plus home games this season, ending a scoreless streak of 139:08 at the Wells Fargo Center and 151:13 overall.
Eleven seconds into the second period, Benn and Seguin again teamed for a goal. Seguin fed Benn, who broke in on a two-on-one and scored his sixth goal in six games, whipping a shot from the left circle.
"I felt more comfortable as the game went on," said Mason, playing for the first time in 10 nights. "It was nice to get back out there and get my feet back under me."
After a family medical development caused him to miss two games, Mason returned to the lineup for the first time since Oct. 10, when he allowed four goals in the first 6:46 and was removed from the game, an eventual 7-1 defeat in Florida. Later, it was revealed he was dealing with a family emergency.
Michal Neuvirth had consecutive shutouts - blanking Florida, 1-0, and the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks, 3-0 - while Mason was unable to play.
The Stars swarmed in the first 25 minutes before the Flyers finally applied some power-play pressure after Antoine Roussel decked Sam Gagner and got two more penalty minutes than the Flyers' forward. (Gagner went after Roussel because of a nasty center-ice hit he delivered to Brayden Schenn.)
During the ensuing power play, Niemi made six saves, including close shots by Voracek and Giroux.