October 5, 2005
American Airlines Center
We continue to roll through our 20 year retrospective in the absence of substantive on-ice Stars related news with a particularly poignant regular season game at this juncture: The Stars first game back after a 17 month layoff owing to the locked out 2004-2005 season.
Stars fans had been away from the game for too long. All hockey fans had been away from the game for far too long. This one was destined to be memorable for all in attendance or otherwise, regardless of the outcome, but the drama that unfolded cemented it as, in our view, one of the most unforgettable games in regular season history.
The elation of hockey's return made for a euphoric atmosphere in the building as 18,532, long separated from their drug of choice, got their (our) long awaited fix. The Kings had aims to ruin the fun and scored on their first, third, and fifth shots of the game.
Dallas trailed 4-0 going into the second period. The parade was pretty thoroughly rained upon, though the phrase "It's ok, I'm just happy hockey is back" reverberated throughout the building during the first intermission. The Stars were not content to accept that fate on this most celebratory of nights, and the ensuing comeback turned out to be one for the (regular season) ages.
Continued after the jump...
The preseason was fun that year. The shootout was a novelty - exciting in it's infancy. The rule changes and promises of decreased obstruction were topical and on everyone's mind. The lockout had disgruntled and disgruntled many, and there was a disbelief, almost, that it really happened.
All of that went away when the puck was dropped, and it was just about the game. It was pure joy, for those who spent 17 months mourning it's loss. It was just one of eighty-two in a season that would prove inconsequential in the annals of Dallas Stars history, sure, but the catharsis was utterly complete...
For the first minute of the game anyway. At 1:02 of the first period Jeremy Roenick put a damper on the festive atmosphere. At 1:34 the Kings added a second. By the end of the first period they had built a 4-0 lead that had silenced our jubilation and ended the celebration altogether.
You never leave a hockey game early, however, as the saying goes.
Determined as they were to stick to the new standards for obstruction-less, fluid hockey, the officials blew the whistles early and often affording the Stars five first period power plays on which they were unable to capitalize. Undeterred, the Kings would take six more minor penalties in the second frame, affording the Stars the chance to climb back into the game.
In a span of just three and a half minutes Jason Arnott and Sergei Zubov would combine for three goals and two assists to put the Stars right back in the game, and the pep back into an American Airlines Center that had sorely missed it for a year and a half.
The Stars allowed the Kings just 11 totals shots in the second and third periods, and Marty Turco righted his ship, equal to the task.
Bill Guerin tied the game midway through the third period and Philppe Boucher would score the game winner off a nice feed from Jason Arnott. (That's how I remember it anyway. The lack of highlights on the internet for this one is disturbing.)
Dustin Brown took three consecutive minor penalties in the last five minutes of the game to end it. That's how he rolled back then, too.
It was just the first game back. It was just one of eighty-two, sure. But it meant the absolute world to every hockey junky around these parts. Excitement, 17 month anticipation, complete and utter ineptitude, devastation, legendary comeback - It's a memory producing formula for sure, and one that every season ticket holder will hopefully look back on fondly.
It's also a good reminder, on a week like this one, that there will be good times ahead no matter how long the (new) lockout lasts. The drama quotient may not be quite so high the next time around, and the disgruntlement may be ramped up that much more, but the good feelings of that night and having been in the building remind me personally that no matter how bad things get, we'll all be back at the AAC together again. Sometime.
No highlights for this one on the internet, unless I am mistaken (very possible). Reading these Kings fans' thoughts during the game at this HFboards game thread is fun, however.