Memo to all NHL teams: You can't ever count out the Dallas Stars. In fact it turns out that if you get a three goal lead on them, then they have you right where they want you apparently.
For a second game in a row the Stars fell behind in a game to the tune of 3-0 where they didn't look good and their opponents could do no wrong only to turn around half way into the game, pull off a great effort to tie things in regulation, get the game to extra time and then...
Well ok they lost in the shootout to the Colorado Avalanche 4-3, but still at least it's a point in the standings right?
The Stars were being skated around in circles the Avs- helped by the fact the Stars took five penalties in the first period - and the Stars penalty kill did maybe as well as could be expected with that kind of early workload. The backbreaker seemed to be when Brenden Morrow took a tripping penalty and then complained loudly enough about it to get a second penalty for unsportsmanlike. It amounted to six penalty minutes in a row over the span of the end of the first and start of the second period and while the PK didn't play horribly during it, no NHL team can give any other NHL team that much power play time and expect that you can kill it.
There was really no reason to expect a comeback in this game the way things had been going, but lo-n-behold Adam Burrish takes a shot down the wing that beats Peter Budaj who will later tonight be having nightmares over. Morrow scored 23 seconds after that and from there the Stars took over the game with fantastic skating and puck movement.
James Neal as he is want to do lately, scored on the power play to tie the game and despite the fact the Stars had at least five more glorious chances to get the go ahead goal in a final frantic five minutes of the third period, they couldn't beat Budaj.
In overtime, the play was carried mostly by the Avalanche and if not for Kari Lehtonen, it may have been over a little earlier. As it was, Kevin Porter carried on his recent clutch goal scoring for Colorado and picked up the shootout winning goal in the fourth round.
More thoughts on some of the players, the game overall and the three stars after the jump...
- Despite the fact they fell behind 0-3 half way into the game, I don't think this is a game you can say the Stars played poorly in. The repeated taking of penalties is what really set the Stars behind even as the Stars did try to get into the game halfway through the first and even at that point led the game in shots. You have to give Colorado some credit as they are a faster team which forced a lot of those penalties. Dallas did start finding their skating legs in the second though and after the first didn't take any more penalties.
- The Stars defense was much better in this game, especially Trevor Daley and Matt Niskanen. No real complains about how the Stars defensive unit played tonight. Nicklas Grossman had seven hits. They also limited the Avalanche in second chance opportunities and every defender (except for Daley) had at least one blocked shot.
- The Stars faceoff efforts were a little better tonight and leading the way there was Tom Wandell who was a nice and tidy seven wins and two losses. Mike Ribeiro still needs to do work as he went five and nine.
- Loui Eriksson seems due for a goal doesn't he? He's at least picking up assists.
- Neal was again a force of nature with a goal and assist. Morrow made up for his early undisciplined play with goal in the second period and had about three more great scoring chances in the third all because of hard work and being able to get himself open. Brad Richards went without a point but was still active and helping create scoring chances. In fact Richards was seeing double shifts near the end of the game.
- How is it that Milan Hejduk is the bane of our existence in these games? I bet he could be in the middle of a 20 game pointless streak and the moment he lines up the Stars he lights them up for a pair of goals on the power play - such as he did tonight.
- Again, more kudos to Krys Barch who only had five minutes worth of playing time yet was on the ice for two of the Stars three goals and even rang a shot off the post himself in the first period. Toby Petersen on the other hand played only three minutes in the first half of the game and apparently didn't do much to impress Crawford as he saw pine the rest of the way. Don't be surprised if he's a healthy scratch in the next game.
- Kari Lehtonen was again very good and as an added bonus may have helped shed his often injured reputation a little tonight as he took a shot to the mask near the start of the second period but stayed in the game.
1 - Milan Hejduk (COL)
2 - Kevin Shattenkirk (COL) (Almost made him first star based on the great name alone)
3 - James Neal (DAL)