Wow. Where did that come from?! Yes an 8-2 win over San Jose tonight seemed very unlikely, but was it really? Or maybe it was a case of everything coming together perfectly for this Stars team after two fairly decent efforts in losing causes the previous two games?
Is this the start of a miracle run to the playoffs led by Kari Lehtonen who was in a word excellent? Was this one last powerful but futile haymaker thrown by a team that may be long on fighting spirit but short on time left to catch anyone? Did the Stars come out with their best game of the year and show exactly what they can do? Or is this a product of a Sharks team stumbling to the finish of the season?
Does any of these questions matter? Of course not.
For once Stars fans, lets not look back with gritted teeth and wonder why we hadn't seen this from our boys the last few months and lets not look forward to the still very difficult road ahead of the Stars where we grit our teeth and fear the worst is to come. Lets just savor the win and the fact that on this single night the Stars looked to be the alpha males of the Pacific division once again.
Where do I even start when trying to recap this game? Eight goals in a single game - two of them shorthanded in the third period?! Mike Ribeiro and Brenden Morrow both blowing up with four points on the night? Brandon Segal continuing his great play and proving to not only be the best waiver pick up the Stars had all season, but the best waiver pick up made in the NHL all season? The team's defensive corps playing as well as can be expected against a usually high voltage Sharks offense? The way they rallied in the third when it looked like San Jose was ready to pull off a third period comeback that they have been getting fairly adept at pulling off lately?
For a while there at the start it kinda looked like in the first period like we were going to have a very close, back and forth game on our hands as San Jose did come out pretty well but if you ask me, (and we'll assume you did since you're reading this) three key issues sealed their fate early on and locked up the win for the Stars.
Firstly Lehtonen shut the door early in the first on some decent Sharks chances. We had all heard the hype about Kari's big starting debut at the AAC tonight and how this was going to be the first real good look the Stars were going to get at someone they may want to keep around for the next few seasons. While I won't come out and say that he convinced anyone that he'll be the starting guy in 2010-11, he sure did take a nice first step towards that spot with this start. He stayed big and high in his net, his legs were making sure nothing came easy along the ice and his glove was quick.
Secondly, San Jose got into penalty trouble and the Stars finally capitalized on the power play with a Brad Richards goal midway through the first. Suddenly you could tell the entire Stars bench had an air of confidence and it showed on the ice.
Lastly, Toby Peterson's goal early in the second period where by all rights it should have been an icing play, but somehow the Sharks defender went to the wrong side of the net to touch up the puck, Evgeni Nabokov refused to push it away from his net when it came bouncing back from the boards and Toby's hard work to poke that loose puck past a sleeping Nabokov made it a 3-0 game at that point.
A Brenden Morrow goal three minutes after that made it 4-0 and ended Nabokov's night... Think he's really sick of Morrow by now?
Yes the Sharks did push back and I am sure most of us gasped a little bit when the Stars started getting into a bit of penalty trouble themselves starting with what some felt was a questionable boarding major on Stephane Robidas that left the Stars with only five defensemen on the bench. Devin Setoguchi made it a 4-2 game not even a minute into the third period and I am sure everyone watching went "here we go again..."
But a funny thing happened on the way to the Stars rolling over and giving up a lead again... They didn't. Instead they came through with two amazing shorthanded goals within four minutes of each other to make it 6-2 and the route - albeit a little late in the game - was on.
Was it a perfect game for Dallas? Not really. Does it mean the Stars are ready for a postseason run? Probably not.
None of that matters. Stars fans get to enjoy a great night of hockey where the good guys for once were the bullies doing whatever they wanted on the ice, whenever they wanted it.
The Defending Big D 3 & 38th Stars
1st Star - Mike Ribeiro (DAL): You could just tell he was set for a big game couldn't you? By the way he's officially on fiyah as he has 14 points in his last 12 games.
2nd Star - Brenden Morrow (DAL): Most people have nightmares of demons and monsters... Evgeni Nabokov sees only images of Morrow in his.
3rd Star - Kari Lehtonen (DAL): Welcome to Dallas kid! Can we have some more?
38th Star - Manny Malhotra (SJ): It was just a few days ago I was hearing the Sharks play by play team singing the praises of how important this guy is to their team.. I think they forgot that they were in fact talking about Manny Malhotra. He gave them a not-so-gentle reminder tonight I am sure.