The Dallas Stars needed a few breaks and some great performances to keep the season alive, and tonight they received both -- in bunches.
There's not much that needs to be said about tonight's win. The Stars absolutely needed a regulation win, as any loss or a three point game would have been the nail in the coffin for the Stars' postseason chances. While it didn't come easy, the Stars hung on for a 4-3 win against an increasingly desperate Ducks team.
Mike Ribiero and Brenden Morrow combined for a brilliant performance, their best game in weeks, and propelled the Stars to a 4-2 lead in a very hard-fought second period. The Ducks would pull within a goal in the third, but the Stars were able to keep the Ducks at arm's length for much of the final period before the eventual onslaught began -- the one everyone knew would be coming.
Once again, an inability to clear the puck from the zone effectively plagued the Stars in the final minutes, giving the Ducks the chances and momentum they needed to get that tying goal. Not once but twice did it initially appear that the Ducks once again had pulled off a last-minute tying goal yet for the first time in a very long while it appeared the hockey gods were on the Stars' side.
Both goals were immediately waived off by the referee nearest the goal and both calls were absolutely correct. The goalie interference call has been made time and again this season, yet it was the hand pass ruling that I'm still scratching my head on exactly how that call was made so accurately. It matters not, only that the Stars received the breaks and held on for the biggest win of the season.
A few more thoughts after the jump.
- Jamie Benn had a great, physical game playing on a line with Brad Richards and Loui Eriksson -- but that doesn't excuse two very bad mental mistakes in the final minutes of the game. He's young, but he still needs to have better situation awareness; don't ice the puck unless you absolutely have no choice and don't take a big two-handed slash when the game is on the line.
- Mike Ribiero was once again physical and made several great plays not only offensively -- but defensively as well. It's these sorts of performances that make the fans so frustrated at times with his inconsistency.
- Jeff Woywitka, offensive defenseman extraordiairre. Who would have thought it would be this guy that gave the team the big spark they so desperately needed.
- If the Stars are going to have any chance at all at actually pulling off a 5-0-0 run to end the season, Lehtonen MUST play better than he did tonight. He was big when he needed to be, but two very soft goals put the Stars in a bad position when they didn't need to be.
- The Stars' season is alive for at least another game. THERE'S STILL TIME.