The night began with a faint hope at American Airlines Center. In the bars downstairs and on the platinum level Dallas Stars faithful watched the Nashville Predators take 1-0 and 2-1 leads on the Detroit Red Wings. Someone high-fived me as I wandered aimlessly through the flagship level.
There was a little electricity. It wasn't over yet.
Then the game began. The Columbus Blue Jackets scored 19 seconds into the first period, and as if to underline the point, 1,189 miles away at The Joe the Red Wings simultaneously took a 3-2 lead they would not relinquish.
The Stars would battle back to tie with a strong second period, including 16 shots, but with about eight minutes to go in the frame the Detroit Red Wings eliminated the Stars officially with a 4-2 final over the Predators.
Whether they knew or not, the Stars came out in the third battling hard but had nothing to show for it when Robidas went off for tripping at 7:53 and Mark Letestu scored his 13th goal of the year off the faceoff - One more than Loui Eriksson and Jamie Benn have (12 each). That would prove enough, though Columbus would add another power play in the waning moments.
With the attempt to eliminate the Blue Jackets failed, the Stars will have the chance to eliminate Detroit on home ice Saturday night, and our thoughts turn to the Texas Stars, who begin their best-of-five series Friday night.
With Alex Chiasson injured and likely a variety of other players nursing minor things that will now be divulged as clean-out-your-locker-day approaches, it's hard to say when exactly the Texas Stars will see an influx of players coming back down.
Aaron Rome's mystery situation will have a bearing there as well, as they'd like to get Jordie Benn back down ASAP. Texas may have to play a game before Reilly Smith, Chiasson, and Matt Fraser can go back down and deliver some fire power to battle the Admirals.
Like last year, the Stars took it down to the final 48 hours. And like last year, there will be a final home game on a Saturday against a playoff-bound team that doesn't mean much.
It's not the same though, and it's an important distinction to make even when it hurts the most. This team was gutted to the point where "three fourth-lines" had become a common twitter punchline, but the guys that remained battled their hardest, climbing back into serious contention when everyone thought they were done weeks ago.
It's commendable. It still stinks, but it's commendable. Soon, though, it's Tom Gaglardi's turn to jump over the boards and finally take a shift. What will his game plan be?
- The Stars were the better team for most of the night, but couldn't make it count on the scoreboard.
- The 12th pick right now, if you're wondering. It could bump up a spot or two if things fall right Saturday.
- I think the ginger ninja looks tired after all the hockey he's played this year. He will soon have rest.
- I look forward to an entire season of Erik Cole. Once his role was defined and his linemates solidified his play was a good fit for this team (this post-trade deadline team, anyway). He will still have elevated expectations from fans because of salary. You wonder though - He looks like a great third line player, but like Cody Eakin the Stars may need him to be a second liner next season.
- Jared Boll "drew" that interference call in every sense of the word. That was disgraceful.
- Bobrovsky's chest protector is going to need some attention from the trainer. I've no doubt he's powered the Blue Jackets to their impressive run but the Stars didn't make him work for it tonight at times, even passing on quality shot opportunities while looking for something prettier.
- MacDermid... Roussel... Garbutt. There's an excess of... something there. Not sure how that works out where the "fourth" line is concerned next season. Just pondering and pondering already. It's going to be a busy off-season at DBD, me thinks.
- Five years. Five years. That's a long time. It seemed like just yesterday we were here. We were right here and there were streamers and confetti being shot out of the rafters so close to where I sit right now. 2008 seems like just yesterday. Look at me, getting all maudlin on you.
- The news of the elimination late in the second, of course, was not announced in the building, and the crowd continued to "oooh" and "ahhh" with the Stars tantalizing chances down the stretch. Did they really not know? Everyone reading this post surely knew at the time.
- Remember the lockout? That was terrible. Try to come out on Saturday and enjoy our last hockey until September. (Though a road trip down south sounds good right about now...)