But first, some breaking weather news, where I can safely report that as of 11:14 pm CST, IT'S STILL SNOWING AT MY HOUSE!!
OK, now that I got to play the role of over-reactive TV reporter in a winter storm, let's get back to the most important issue at hand. And that is that after starting a five game stretch before the Olympics that Joe Nieuwendyk said would determine whether his club would be buyers or seller's at the trade deadline with a demoralizing 3-1 loss to Columbus, the Stars have picked up five points in the span of three games with wins over two of the teams the Stars are chasing.
Saturday night, they'll have a chance to pick up a second win in a eight days over the Phoenix Coyotes. And if they do, they'll guarantee that they'll be anywhere from a point out of the 8th and final playoff spot, tied for it, or possibly even in the lead.
But we'll worry about that Saturday night. Because dare I say that tonight, the Stars picked up their biggest road win of the season. And they did it in a game in which no Calgary goals came directly off the sticks of a Flame. Even if an idiot ref was fooled by the Flames premature celebration with just a shade under 30 seconds left.
This was one of those proverbial games where the Stars started off slowly and then got better as the game went along. You need look no further for proof of that than the Stars first power play of the game, which came 17:59 into the first period.
They had one good scoring chance while Calgary had three, thanks to controlling the puck in the Dallas zone for what seemed to be the entire second half of the power play. Luddy, unfortunately, was put into the position of using Fabian Brunnstrom's play to indicate just how mentally congested the Stars' forwards were early on.
But they took a decongestant, got their legs under them, weathered a flurry of second period Calgary power plays, and Brenden Morrow helped atone for taking a feed from his teammate as of next week and putting the puck past his current teammate that gave Calgary it's 1-0 lead early by feeding Mike Ribeiro for his circus shot of a goal. From that point on, the Stars forecheckers mauled Calgary in their own zone.
And if you'll allow me to take a 20 second time out, these last two games are an example why I don't think the Stars can afford to trade Mike Ribeiro. Sure, Jamie Benn, Mike Modano, and James Neal all played great in his absence. But Ribs, flat out, is a playmaker. And as long as he can continue to make plays, there should be a spot for him in Marc Crawford's system.
Those maulings were rewarded very early in the third period when Morrow picked up the puck on the half boards after Trevor Daley kept the puck at the near point. Morrow spotted Jamie Benn, whipped a pass that just eluded the stick of a scrambling Calgary defenseman, and Jamie Benn out waited Miikka Kipprusoff to give the Stars a 2-1 lead.
They could have easily made it 3-1 on several occasions in the third period if not for some big saves by Kipper. But he held his team in it until late when Iginla was able to get a step past Stephane Robidas in the corner. Robi couldn't resist the temptation to grab Iginla with the free hand and the Stars were put in the position of having to win the game on the penalty kill with one of their best penalty killers in the box.
As they had done for much of the evening tonight, the Stars penalty killers were great. Especially when it came to blocking shots. I suppose I could go for the bad pun of saying their shot blocking acted as a fire retardant to the Flames power play, but I won't stoop to such a level.
Still, Dallas wasn't out of the woods yet. And when Jarome Iginla threw a shot from a bad angle in on goal that we initially thought went in, it looked like a repeat of the November 4th game between the Flames and Dallas in which the Stars blew a late 2-1 lead before losing in OT off that controversial delay of game call to Nik Grossman.
Instead, the Stars caught a break when the camera angle from the end conclusively showed the puck never crossed the line. Which begs the question of, just what the hell was Greg Kimmerly looking at on the play?
I'm sure Turco was asking him the same question after video review bailed the guys in the stripes out.
Still, 27 seconds were left on the clock with a defensive zone draw to take. Stars clear it out, force a neutral zone draw just outside their zone, and Mike Ribeiro salts it away with a beautiful decision to go forward with a faceoff that just so happened to also go into the Calgary net.
It was the second consecutive road win for the Stars in the Canadian Province that Art Middleton now calls home. But unlike that game against the Oilers a month ago where the Stars were more the benefactors of some dumb Oiler luck, this one was well earned and more important since it allowed them to gain ground on a team they're trying to chase down.
Saturday night, we'll see if they can gain even more ground on another playoff team.
Defending Big D Three Stars:
Normally, this isn't my thing. But Mike Rogers of the Fan 960 in Calgary did such a piss poor job that Brian Hayward would be proud of...
On a side note, wasn't Rogers the Canadian radio blowhard who kept stealing Bob and Dan's bits?
3. Brenden Morrow - If there was a 3b Star of the game, Jamie Benn would have certainly gotten the nod here. But I gave it to Morrow because he made amends for his own goal in the first on Calgary's third power play of the game but dishing out assists on Mike Ribeiro's 2nd period goal and on the go ahead goal by Benn early in the third.
2. Mike Ribeiro - Another controversial choice you could say. Which speaks to how much of a team win this was for Dallas tonight. He tapped his creative side by tying the game up in the second with a between the legs shot off Kipper's pads then salted it away by going forward on the neutral zone draw just outside the Stars zone.
A smart move that surprised everybody in a Calgary jersey because it was either going to kill off a good 7 to 9 seconds off the Flames power play, or it was going to go into the empty net. It did the latter and the Stars skated off 3-1 winners.
1. Marty Turco - Give the guy credit. If trading for Kari Lehtonen wasn't a sign that he was being put on notice by the Stars front office to do better, then I don't know what is. After giving up some Charmin soft goals in Chicago, Turco denied everything the Flames threw at him, including a bad angle shot from the boards that Greg Kimmerly somehow thought went in. Despite clear video evidence to the contrary.
I gave him the nod for number 1 star because he was the primary reason the Stars were only facing a 1-0 deficit after the first period.