Definition of the word Irony: That the Dallas Stars starting goalie is from Finland yet they rarely show any kind of finish.
Again the Stars busted their tail after a slow first period to play a good, solid 40 minute game against the Anaheim Ducks. Again they managed to get a lead late in the third period (this time thanks to a Trevor Daley goal from about five feet away from the Ducks goal) and go into the final minute only needing to ward off attacking pressure from the opposing team who had pulled their goalie; yet again they give up a game tying goal with mere seconds left in regulation and then lose the game in overtime.
Seeing this gut-wrenching scenario play out for the Dallas Stars is frankly getting a bit old for us fans, so I can only imagine how the players in the Stars dressing room feel tonight after the latest choking away of a much neeeded two full points in the standings.
Sure the Stars did pick up a single point and remain in 9th place a point behind the Ducks, so the race isn't over by any stretch and Stars fans should not be thinking about the summer just yet, but in a very tight playoff race where the feeling is that the teams that do get in 7th and 8th place will do so by a single point or two, it's losses like the one the Stars just suffered tonight that has all of us going: "Did this game just cost the team a post-season berth?"
- Almost as tiring as seeing the horrible collapses at the end of games is the Stars seemingly unwillingness to come out on fire in the first period. I gotta admit, I fully expected a take-no-prisoners type Stars club to hit the ice and instead we got the same old 'play the game at half speed and see if we can lull the other team to sleep' Stars. The Ducks of course as the road team were just fine playing that way. It wasn't until Lubomir Visnovsky scored for the Ducks less than a minute into the second period and then Mark Fistric drilled Dan Sexton along the boards about eight minutes later that got the Stars - and the game - really jumping.
(Thoughts of the game by bullet-point after the jump..)
- That Fistric hit by the way ended up drawing a Ducks penalty and the Stars finally scored on the power play with a Alex Goligoski point shot to tie things at 1-1 after two periods. Overall the Stars power play was solid going 1 for 3. The Stars penalty kill was mediocre at best allowing a goal on four times short handed.
- Loui Eriksson did give the Stars a 3-2 lead a little under five minutes into the third but that was quickly answered 11 seconds later by Corey Perry after Bobby Ryan made a very nice play to snag a lifted puck in the air and quickly start a counter-attack that caught both Stephane Robidas and Goligoski going the wrong way.
- The DBD Post-Game Question :How much are you looking forward to Teemu Selanne's retirement? - Brought on of course by the fact Selanne was the one that tied it with five seconds left in regulation after a crazy goal-mouth scramble. The sad truth is, he'll probably never retire or if he wants to, he'll probably only play in games against Dallas much like Todd Marchant and Visnovsky will.
- About that last minute though... We can bemoan the fact that Teemu burned the Stars again, but the fact is the Stars had three chances in those final twenty seconds to clear the puck out of the zone and never did. They played far too deep into their zone, allowed the Ducks as usual to crash the net and throw all kinds of chaos at Kari Lehtonen - who was good again tonight by the way and did everything he could to help gain a win stopping 22 of 26 shots - and ended up getting the GTG.
- Other Stars getting points: Brad Richards and Mike Ribeiro both had two assists, Jamie Langenbrunner and Steve Ott had solo helpers.
- At the end of the night, I think back about this game and can't see where the Stars were that bad or "deserving" of a loss - besides the effort in the first period that is which is maybe the real problem, I don't know any more... The defensive unit was good - even Jeff Woywitka who made some mistakes as he is want to do, but he did hustle a lot and covered those mistakes with some hard work The forwards for the most part were pretty good as well with players like Ott and Ribs and Morrow all putting in good work. Richards still looks a step or two slow but he's putting up points so we can't complain there. That's what makes this loss even more frustrating... Two points was there for the taking and I really do feel that if those final five seconds of regulation pass without a goal then we sit here post-game as Stars fans and say "wow, the Stars really stepped up and played a nice game when needed and got two big points" -- So not only does it feel like a lost point, but if feels like a wasted effort on top of that.
- Nine games remain... Three of them are against teams that are still two points away from the Stars and four are against teams out of the playoff race altogether. The Stars aren't done by any stretch folks. But the room for error has no doubt slipped.
1 - Teemu Selanne (ANA)