For 30 minutes the Stars showed all the heart and hustle they had during a magical December and January run. Unfortunately, it was the other 30 minutes that lost them the game.
Going down 2-0 in the first period to the Ducks the Stars were messy and listless, consistently turning over the puck and unable to sustain any sort of attack in the offensive zone. It looked like the game would go downhill in a hurry if the Stars couldn't muster any sort of fight, especially with the season seemingly on the line.
Then Mike Ribeiro took over in the second period. An early power play goal in the middle frame put the Stars right back in the game and gave life to a team that was desperate for energy. Dallas started to pour on the pressure and tied the game off a brilliant Ribeiro pass to defenseman Matt Niskanen, who buried the puck off a one-timer from the right circle. It was a complete turnaround from the first period and it looked like the stars were ready to take control of the game after a horrific start.
When Ribeiro scored again off a nifty give and go with Steve Ott, the Stars were on the verge of running away with a nice comeback victory. Unfortunately the Stars fell prey to yet another third period rally when the Ducks scored two goals less than two minutes apart to go up on the Stars 4-3. Once again, the Stars were forced to mount a late game rally and were unable to crack the defense in front of the net. A late power play went useless, yet again, as the Stars were unable to take advantage of the opportunities given them.
What becomes most worrisome is the Stars' spot in the Western conference standings. With the loss to the Ducks they fall to ninth place in the West and are still tied at 65 points with two other teams. If today wasn't as big a must-win game as the Stars have had this season, tomorrow's early game against Pittsburgh definitely is. A win would at least slow the bleeding and put the stars right back into the race while a loss would be absolutely devastating.
The Stars showed great hustle and fight for a good part of the game yet were unable to sustain the energy for 60 minutes. The players have to realize that the season hangs in the balance tomorrow and must play their absolute best from the drop of the puck to the final whistle.
Notes/thoughts on the game:
- I'll be surprised if we see Tobias Stephan in net tomorrow. Part of me was convinced he would play one of these two games this weekend but you have to think with tomorrow's game being so crucial he's going to go with his top goalie. However, it's obvious that Turco is starting to wear down a bit and was certainly not at his sharpest today.
- Mike Ribeiro was fantastic today, but the Stars desperately need their other scorers to pick up the rest of the slack. Mike Modano, Loui Eriksson, James Neal and Brian Sutherby have to look in the mirror tonight and figure some things out.
- Steve Begin, in his first game as a Dallas Star, had 6:10 of ice time with three shots and four hits.
- Fabian Brunnstrom had just five minutes of ice time and one shot on goal.
- Don't know what Steve Ott did differently than anyone else on the ice, but he was handed a match penalty after the scrum at the end of the game. Supposedly it was for intent to injure, which might have come when he was still throwing punches with the ref's tackling both players to the ice.
UPDATE: Mike Heika is reporting that Ott gouged Travis Moen in the eye during the fight and that is what earned him the match penalty.
BW's three stars of the game:
Bobby Ryan, Anaheim: Had two assists and could have had two goals. Was incredible with the puck and was the Ducks most dangerous players on the ice.
Mike Ribeiro, Dallas: Almost single-handedly willed the Stars to a comeback victory with two goals and a primary assist. Had seven shots total on net and hit the post twice.
Scott Niedermayer, Anaheim: Had a big goal in the third period and helped hold off the Stars in the final minutes of the game with a tremendous goal line stand.