It finally happened.
What transpired on the ice resulted in a much different outcome than the previous playoff game that took place some 309 weeks earlier. Yet, the game offered eerie similarities from the last time Stars fans witnessed the Victory Green, including a heart-breaking incident with a former fan favorite, now dressed in enemy orange and black.
On Friday, April 11, a sellout crowd witnessed the hometown Stars clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2008 with a convincing 3-0 shutout over the then top-ranked, yet, spiraling, St. Louis Blues.
The top spot in the Western Conference also earned Stephane Robidas and the Ducks a first-round matchup with their familiar foe from Dallas.
Rewind to November 29, 2013, when Stephane Robidas and Stars took on the Chicago Blackhawks in Dallas. The Stars not only lost a point by way of a shootout loss, but also lost the veteran blueliner Robidas for the remainder of the season with a broken leg after a nasty spill into the end boards during the 2nd period.
With a trade to Anaheim on March 4, 2014, the fan-favorite veteran would not play another game on the ice in Dallas…until Monday night.
During the 2nd period, the Stars’ Ryan Garbutt lost his footing and went barreling into Robidas—now in Anaheim orange. Robidas’ right leg was trapped underneath Garbutt as Robidas fell to the ice in agony with a fracture in the same leg that sidelined him for the Stars in November.
As he was helped off the ice, the hometown faithful voiced their appreciation of his Stars servitude with an admirable chant of "Ro-bi! Ro-bi!" All Stars fans want to continue overachieving this season, but nobody wanted to see their friendly foe go down with a season-ending injury during his first return to Dallas, especially with a repeat of the same injury he just worked so hard to return from.
Just as they did against St. Louis to clinch a postseason berth 10 days earlier, the Stars continued an eerily similar march towards another 3-0 shutout victory, this time over the now top-ranked Anaheim Ducks, and brought the Stars to within one win of tying the series at 2-2.
NHL Network labeled the Dallas crowd as "hostile" and was evidenced by the fans’ consistent vocal discontent for Ryan Getzlaf every time the puck met his stick.
The arena-wide, unison chant of "bull-s***!" after a questionable call, the raucous disproval for Corey "Fairy" every time he took a cheap shot and then skated away from confrontation, and Getzlaf’s post-game comments accusing the Stars of being "too physical" and "lacking class," proved the energy and passion inside the AAC Monday night not only helped the Stars get back into the series, but into the heads of the Anaheim Ducks.
Two consecutive 3-0 shutouts on home ice for Kari Lehtonen and the Dallas Stars put the Stars into the postseason and put the Stars back into the first-round series. The crowd did their part on Monday night, and it’s time to become even more "hostile" on Wednesday night and ensure a Game 6 in Dallas on Sunday.
After 2,163 days and 458 regular season games, the Stanley Cup Playoffs are back in Dallas and the fans were more than ready Monday night.
Everyone ropes, everyone rides. See you Wednesday night.