The end is nigh for the Dallas Stars.
One way or the other.
The preferred way will take near-perfection (probably perfection itself) moving forward as the Stars face the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center, the Sharks at the tank, and the Blue Jackets and Red Wings at home to close things out.
The desperation required (most recently) stems from a regulation loss to the Blues Friday night and a point earned by the Red Wings at Vancouver Saturday.
"I thought we played real hard, especially in the third, made a good push to get some offense on a really stingy team," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said after the defeat in St. Louis. "We came up short at the end, but the guys worked. Our guys worked."
The Stars are proud of their efforts. Proud of their resolve. After trading Michael Ryder, Brenden Morrow, Derek Roy, Tomas Vincour and Jaromir Jagr, how could any observer of this team not be?
Yet the specter of something more remains, even if its probability hits new lows the night after the Red Wings put them back into 10th place with an enormous point earned in Vancouver last night.
The Stars still largely control their own destiny, but must be near-perfect to secure the one they'd prefer.
Going back to 1967, the Stars have only won three times against the Kings on the road four times. Four times. The last coming in 2006-2007 against a Los Angeles team that finished 14th in the conference. Yet it's that third win against (the Stanley Cup Champions) on the road that they just simply need tonight.
Anything less will not do.
The game can be seen nationally on NHL Network in the U.S. and on Fox Sports Southwest locally at 9:00pm. Attach whatever kind of hyperbolic labels to this one you like - Such descriptions will not be enough. They come now to the brink once again.