A mere 2 1/2 weeks ago, the Dallas Stars were about to fall hopelessly out of the playoff race. They'd picked up just one of their possible last six points with an overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres and regulation losses to the Detroit Red Wings and Calgary Flames.
Then Mike Ribeiro pulled six shades of sexy out of his bag of tricks, and everything changed. Ribeiro's overtime goal against the Calgary Flames helped the Stars start what has been a 6-1-2 run that has moved them into a tenuous hold on the eighth and final playoff spot.
The Flames, meanwhile, have been reeling a little bit. They have gone 2-3-2, including a last-minute loss in regulation to the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night and now sit 11th, four points back of Dallas.
And with time quickly running out of their season, they are desperate to pick up points, especially in games like tonight.
"We had a chance to have that gap closer," (Flames coach Brent) Sutter lamented. "I've got to regroup off this one and get these guys ready for Sunday.
"It is a big game. (Losing to the Ducks) just makes it bigger, I guess."
After the jump, more on today's game against the Flames, all the Burke family news you never knew you wanted and Bruce Boudreau was not a happy man after Saturday night.
- One of the most subtle aspects of this winning streak might be the coaching moves from Glen Gulutzan, who has had some rough moments in his rookie campaign but seems to be pressing all the right buttons right now, as Mike Heika details in this paywalled story. [DallasNews.com]
- Mark Stepneski has put together all the numbers from this recent run. [ESPN Dallas]
- Since Jamie Benn had his misadventure with an opponent's skate, the Stars top line of Mike Ribeiro, Michael Ryder and Loui Eriksson has been on quite a roll. [DallasStars.com]
- Toby Petersen will not be available for the game today. He had to fly back to Dallas for a happy addition to his family. [Twitter]
- There's no awesome high school essay like there was from Mike Ribeiro's old teacher, but add Jamie Benn to the list of Stars players who weren't exactly bookworms. [DallasNews.com]
- So Brian Burke is admitting that fans chanting led to him firing Ron Wilson as the Toronto Maple Leafs coach? That seems like a dangerous precedent to set. [Puck Daddy]
- Speaking of Burke, Don Cherry is not very happy with how the Leafs are being run right now. Shocker alert - he thinks they're not Canadian enough. [Backhand Shelf]
- And the Burke family again, those this time on a nicer note. His son Patrick Burke is the co-founder of the You Can Play organization, which is working to guarantee that athletes are judged on skill and not their sexual orientation. It was created in honor of his late brother Brendan Burke. [Broad Street Hockey]
- Meet the enemy, part the first: If the Flames have any designs on making the playoffs, here are the four things they need to do. [Calgary Sun]
- Meet the enemy, part the second: Goalie Leland Irving played well before he gave up a last-minute game winner to Ryan Getzlaf the other night, and he's been a decent if not spectacular backup option for his team. [Calgary Herald]
- Around the Pacific Division: You take the good, you take the bad. You take them both, and then you have Saturday night. The one team the Stars really, really wanted to lose was the Los Angeles Kings, but they weren't about to cooperate with their 4-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks. But there was some help from the two teams at the top of the division, as the San Jose Sharks fell 3-1 to the St. Louis Blues and the Phoenix Coyotes couldn't find their defense in a 5-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Now the top four division teams are within three points of each other. Fun! [Los Angeles Times/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Tuscon Citizen]
- Other scoreboard watching: The Colorado Avalanche avoided being shut out but still lost big in a 5-1 defeat to the Pittsburgh Penguins. [Denver Post]
- If someone out there has money on the next person to receive a fine from the NHL, and god knows people have bet on stranger things, then I think Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau might be a safe wager. [Puck Daddy]
- While you were doing whatever it is you do on a Saturday afternoon, here is what the Stars were up to.