Who says Otter doesn't ever turn the other cheek? (Credit: www.myhockeyshots.com)
If it's Dallas v Los Angeles, then it must mean it's time for yet another insane finish to a hockey game.
What else can you say about that game? For Stars fans it felt like 57 minutes or so of absolute frustration and then a little over four minutes of sheer brilliance as the Stars rally in the third to tie and score in overtime to finally beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-2.
It's not like the Stars had a poor night tonight on the ice as they did play a pretty solid game for all of 58 minutes of regulation and even going as far as out shooting the Kings. But it was a combination of a pair of Stars mental cramps within a minute of each other in the second period helped the Los Angeles Kings post a 2-0 lead and the goaltending of Jonathan Quick for whom you could be excused if you thought was the actual owner of the Stars based on his spotless record against them coming into tonight's game.
But Jamie Benn broke out of his slump early in the third and then with seconds remaining in the game and a face off just outside of the Kings offensive zone the Stars took a time out, Glen Gulutzan drew up a scoring play in the dirt and the combination of Michael Ryder, Steve Ott and Loui Eriksson pulled it off to perfection to tie the game up.
And then that magic in overtime...
I highly doubt the worlds greatest poets could effectively describe what the Stars did to pick up the game winner. Mike Ribeiro taking the term "take a hit to make a play" to a whole new level, Stephane Robidas with an absolute beautiful pass and Otter being in the right place at the right time as per usual to net the winning marker.
Ever wonder what it's like to be hit by a freight train? - Ribs was absolutely leveled by Jack Johnson on the game winning play and sadly because of it he probably won't ever remember making a beautiful effort to chipp the puck forward at the last second to help spring Robidas and Ott on a two on one break before getting crushed. That said, it was a perfectly clean hit - if not a bit dumb on Johnson's part as it took him completely out of position on the play. Word from our intrepid reporter Brad Gardner after the game is that Mike would be fine... Outside of perhaps feeling like he had his bell rung by a sledgehammer and his lungs folded together.
Nice bit of redemption for him as well tonight as it was a costly error committed by him that led to the first goal against and his over-complaining of a penalty he was dinged with that ended up having him seeing some time on the bench thanks to Coach Glen's commitment to get his players to zip their trap after penalty calls are made.
What the heck happened in that 26 second span in the second period? - Well on the Mike Richards goal, Ribeiro got caught wandering from what I imagine was his designated coverage in front of the net and decided to try and assist Nik Grossman in dealing with Dustin Brown in the corner. Brown - with his offensive skills still somewhat sadly overshadowed by his cheap diving - made a nifty pass out front Richards.
On the second Kings goal Radek Dvorak took his foot off the gas for a split second and simply had his pocket picked by Ethan Moreau who then set up Kevin Westgarth for a shot that Kari Lehtonen got some, but not all of it.
#PeskyStars - Indeed. Benn's goal earlier in the period set up by some fantastic work and hustle by Eric Nystrom was a massive lift for the team and it's fans and it was nice to see that there wasn't an overriding sense of panic with the players as time was coming to an end in regulation. They still played within themselves, didn't let bad breaks (and as always some blown calls by the officials) derail them and that last second play to tie the game couldn't have been played any more perfectly and it was made even more impressive by the fact that it felt like it was just the Stars saying: "Ok now, we'll just calmly zip the puck over here... then past this guy as if he wasn't there... and we'll tap it past Quick like this was a morning skate drill... kudos on the tie, now let's head to overtime fellas!"
The Stars out shot the Kings and limited them to 24 shots, so how did Kari deal with his new found boredom? - He handled it rather well all things considered though I'm sure he'd probably want another crack at that Westgarth goal that he got a piece of. Kari did have some challenging saves to make a few times over in the game and with the Stars down by two in the middle frame, he made a couple of key stops to make sure the Kings didn't start completely skate away with the game because it certainly did have a feel of if the Stars could just score one, they would have an excellent chance to tie.
So about those special teams... - As was pointed out on the Stars broadcast tonight: They're working on it. The penalty kill was at the very least a perfect 3 for 3 and looked solid. The power play not so much and it really looks like they are gripping sticks a bit too much as passes seem to be just off line, not on target and bouncing away from players.
Eriksson's goal by the way came seconds after the Stars power play late in the third had ended.
Lastly, I know we have complained about refs a lot lately, but... - You'd be kidding yourself if you didn't think a crafty vet like Sheldon Souray didn't have a lighter-than-normal grip of his stick to be able to lose it like he did when Ethan Moreau slashed it out of his hands to draw that late penalty.
It may feel like most of the calls go against the Stars but they really don't and tonight I think you could argue the Stars were able to pull a quick one over the refs eyes to get an advantage late.
4:53 - LA EV - M. Richards (10) Assist: D. Brown (10)
5:29 - LA EV - K. Westgarth (1) Assist: E. Moreau (3)
2:07 - DAL EV - J. Benn (6) Assists: E. Nystrom (2) & R. Dvorak (7)
19:39 - DAL EV - L. Eriksson (10) Assists: J. Benn (15) & M. Ryder (6)
2:56 - DAL EV - S. Ott (4) Assists: S. Robidas (4) & M. Ribeiro (12)
Defending Big D Three Stars
1 - Steve Ott (DAL)
2 - Loui Eriksson (DAL)
3 - Jamie Benn (DAL)