The dream is still alive, and the Dallas Stars are still in a race for a playoff spot going into the final weekend of action. They stay alive tonight with a big 4-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche in what was their final home game of the season.
Fan appreciation night indeed!
The Stars came out strong from the start of the game and had maybe their best first period effort over the last two months. They staked out a 2-0 lead in the first period thanks to goals from a Tom Wandell wrap-a-round effort and Loui Eriksson who wired home a one-timer past Avs goalie Brian Elliott.
In the second they slipped up a little and allowed the Avalanche to get moments of sustained pressure in the Stars zone which resulted in Colorado knocking the lead down to 2-1 halfway through the game. Still, the Stars did continue to outshoot the Avs and had it not been for Elliott's efforts the game would have been put out of reach in the middle frame.
In the third period Brenden Morrow lit the lamp a minute in on the power play, and even when Colorado answered that goal halfway through the period, the Stars kept pressing and got a fourth and final goal off the stick of Brad Richards to put the game away.
(More thoughts in bullet point form after the jump..)
- The Avalanche have the 30th best penalty kill in the NHL - which of course means it's the worst - yet the Stars only went 1 for 5 with the man advantage. At least they got one, but this game could have been put way out of reach with better work and in fact the Stars only managed 4 shots in those 5 chances. On the bright side, the Avs are actually worse at home on the PK and as we saw tonight, it's not too difficult to force Colorado into taking some bad penalties.
- The penalty kill meanwhile was perfect, which isn't saying much I suppose when it's only one penalty you have to call. Instead let us applaud the overall team discipline of the Stars which has been excellent this last stretch of games.
- Toby Petersen led all Stars in shots again with 7 and his line along with Tom Wandell and then a mixture of Steve Ott times and Jamie Langenbrunner at other times, was very good and maybe the second best line on the night for the Stars. The best of course would be the Morrow, Ribiero with sometimes Jamie Benn and sometimes Eriksson line.
- is it possible this team is starting to heat up again at exactly the right time? Morrow is looking much better, Ribs has at least two great scoring chances a game lately, Loui is starting to shoot the puck with some authority, Ott has been skating better out there and Richards is looking more sure of himself on the ice. Of course this whole tune could change 24 hours from now and sure it would have been better to see this two weeks ago.. But hey, better late than never right?
- Everyone but Jayson Williams and the returning Adam Burish had shots on goal tonight. That makes for a great team effort.
- Other Stars getting points: Benn had two assists, Richards and Eriksson added an assist to go along with their goals scored, Ribeiro was rewarded for his work with an assist as well.
- The DBD post-game question: Out of the Hawks, Ducks and Preds.. who would you like to see the Stars 'knock out' (not who is likely because we know that already) of their position?
2 - Tom Wandell (DAL)