Let me lay this scenario on you.
It's a day game. The Stars play hard to start the game, but special teams breakdowns and bad defense lead to an early 2-0 lead for the Detroit Red Wings. What's more, Jere Lehtinen and Brenden Morrow each leave the game with injuries.
What chance do you give this struggling Stars team of not only coming back to tie the game, but winning in a shootout no less?
Steve Ott played his best game of the year and while he wasn't involved in the offense during the game, his energy and his physicality set the tone for the best Dallas Stars game this team has played in a very, very long time. And while his shootout winner is sure to be highly controversial, his determination and speed led to the score anyways.
Full thoughts on the game after the game...
Let's get this out of the way: The shootout and game-winning goal by Steve Ott should never have counted. Every Stars fan knows it. Whether the puck actually crossed the line or not is secondary at this point, especially since there wasn't a video replay that showed that without a doubt the puck was over.
No, the issue here is how the entire issue was handled. At first it appeared the original call on the ice was a no-goal, and that Toronto was just going through the motions of verifying a no-goal. It certainly didn't appear there was sufficient evidence to overturn the original call, so imagine everyone's surprise when the goal counted.
In reality, the official call on the ice was a good goal. Thus, Toronto was forced to decide whether there was sufficient evidence to overturn THAT call; there wasn't, the just wasn't a good view of the puck.
So Detroit was left stunned, the Stars were overjoyed and Patrick Eaves put a half hearted puck on net and the Stars walked away with the shootout win.
The important thing to remember here is that the Stars played one hell of a game. They fought hard to comeback from an early 2-0 deficit and held the high-powered (don't let their low goal count fool you) Detroit offense off the board when it mattered the most. This was just an overall fun game to watch, and it was nice to finally see the Stars be competitive again.
- Alex Auld wasn't spectacular, but he sure was solid and calm. None of that flopping, twisting or flailing in the crease that has plagued Turco in recent weeks. He was confident and gave his team a chance to win the game, and once again was a star of the game against the Red Wings. I can feel it now; a building crescendo from Stars fans for Auld to take over as the starter for the short term, to at least give Turco a break. If Joe Nieuwendyk's intermission quotes were any indication, then the team has not been happy with Turco's performance (nor should they be) and he may get a chance to take a break for a few games. Should he be permanently benched? Not a chance.
There were a few sequences in the game where Turco's ability to move the puck would have negated a heavy Detroit forecheck, which led directly to a few good chances. For a team that struggles with clearing the puck cleanly, the lack of the puck movement is going to be go without.
- I questioned it, but the line of James Neal, Brad Richards and Loui Eriksson were dominant as always and they caused havoc all game long for the Red Wings. Brad Richards was outright spectacular at times, and Loui Eriksson continued his strong play with another goal. There's no doubt that for whatever reason, Neal plays his hardest when he's next to Richards. You wish he'd be like that all the time, but there's no doubting he's a heck of a pill to try and control when he's feeling it.
- Even Matt Niskanen was solid. No big defensive gaffes, a couple of good plays at the blue line, some good shots, some nice passes. Solid. That's all I have for now.
- Mike Modano has had a fire lit under his skates the past two games, and he's playing some great hockey. Let's not forget that each game that passes is a countdown of sorts to what is most likely Mike Modano's final days as a Dallas Star. Great to see him giving it his all when the team needs him most.
- Which brings me to Steve Ott. Last season, Ott took over in December and January and carried this team on his back behind some strong physical play and some great offense. Tonight was his best game of the season, carried over from a strong performance in Montreal.
He had ten hits against the Red Wings. Ten.
He had no official points in the game, but he certainly had plenty of chances. He was in the right place at the right time and creating all sorts of havoc as the game progressed. Did he walk that fine line between aggressive and dangerous? Of course, but when he's on this side of it he's one hell of an effective player. His physicality and attitude seemed to feed the rest of the team, and the Stars played two of the best periods of the season to finish out the game.
He carried that energy and speed into the shootout, where he was able to back Jimmy Howard into the goal just enough to get the goal.
- Overall, it was great all around game for the Stars. You'd prefer not to come back from an early two-goal deficit, but the Stars stuck with it and kept the pressure up until they eventually cashed in.
The way the team was able to keep the energy up and kept plugging along when they went shorthanded and lost Brenden Morrow and Jere Lehtinen for the game. Lehtinen and Morrow were playing hard along with the rest of the team, and the Stars responded admirably when they lost the captain for the game.
There are a lot of things to like about the Stars performance, and if you're going to tear him apart when they lose then give him credit when they win. Marc Crawford made some tough choices for the game and they paid off.
Now if only he can figure out what to do on the road.
Notes from the Stars on the game:
The Bottom Line:
The Dallas Stars defeated the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in a shootout on Saturday afternoon at American Airlines Center, moving their record to 20-17-11 on the season for 51 points. Dallas' next game will be Monday against the Minnesota Wild (7:00 p.m. CT - Versus; Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket).
Stats and Stuff:
· The Stars have registered at least one point in 12 of their last 14 games at American Airlines Center (10-2-2), and in 16 of their last 19 on home ice (12-3-4).
· Dallas has gone 19-for-91 (20.9%) with the man advantage at home this season, and have 13 power play goals in their last 13 games at home.
· Dallas is now 3-7 in shootouts this season (35-21, all-time).
· Brad Richards scored his 14th goal of the season on the power play. He now was 22 points (7-15-22) in his last 20 games, and 45 points (11-34-44) in his last 38 games. Richards entered the season tied for third overall in power play points, and now has 22.
· Loui Eriksson scored his 19th goal of the season. He now has 34 points (14-20-34) in his last 34 games.
· Alex Auld is now 3-0-0 in his last three HOME starts, stopping 83-of-89 (93.3%) and a 1.93 GAA (6G/187MIN). He did not allow a goal in the shootout today, facing six shooters.
· Tom Wandell picked up his ninth assist of the season.
· Krys Barch registered his third assist of the year.
· THREE STARS OF THE GAME: 1) Alex Auld, 2) Jimmy Howard, 3) Brad Richards.