There is nothing quite like playoff hockey.
Don't be fooled by the fact that there are still three games remaining in the regular season schedule, either. This has become a playoff atmosphere.
Last night at the Staples Center, the fans were loud and on their feet, cheering for their team to earn home ice advantage. The Stars were desperately trying to keep their hopes alive for at least one more game. And the refs -- well, they were letting enough things go that it certainly felt like the last two rounds of the playoffs.
It was an intense night for the Stars and their fans, as we witnessed one of the crazier games seen in recent memory. Disallowed goals, allowed goals that probably should not have been, and turnovers every few seconds from both teams. If you weren't emotionally distraught before that game began, you certainly were after it ended.
It's safe to say most Stars fans will not miss having the Kings in their own division anymore.
Unfortunately, though, the final rivalry game could not end the way the Stars wanted/needed it to, as they were defeated in overtime by a score of 4-3. It should not have come as a surprise, as the Kings thoroughly dominated during the extensive amount of 4-on-4 time during the first 60 minutes. Naturally they would control for OT as well.
However, a point was enough to keep the Stars' playoff hopes alive, as they still maintain control over their own destiny. It does not make the path any easier, but it certainly does make it just a bit brighter. According to Mark Stepneski, the Stars know what lies ahead of them, and what they have to do.
"We've been battling hard for a while here and that point is going to come in handy for us. We'll take it," said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. "That was a tough, hard-fought game. I liked our compete level. We still control our destiny with the teams we have left to play."
The Stars play at San Jose on Tuesday and then return home to play two of the teams they are battling for that final playoff spot - Columbus and Detroit. The Stars trail the Blue Jackets by three points, but have one game in hand. They are tied in points with the Red Wings, who have one game in hand on the Stars.
"We're still in there," said Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas. "We have Columbus and Detroit at home and San Jose on the road. It's still right there for us."
It was a wild, chaotic game at times Sunday night. The Stars fell behind 2-0, rallied to take a 3-2 lead and then the Kings bounced back to tie the game and finally win it on a Jeff Carter goal with 52 seconds remaining in overtime.
There were a lot of penalties, a few missed calls and some controversial rulings on goals that were both allowed and not allowed.
"There was some crazy stuff that happened out there, stuff that was out of our control," said Robidas. "You just have to battle through it and there is nothing we can do about that."
The Stars will regroup and recover in order to face the Sharks tomorrow night. In the meantime, all of the pressure is back on Detroit, as they host the Phoenix Coyotes. It's a potentially huge game, as a regulation win would tie Phoenix with Detroit and Dallas in points with the same number of games remaining. While it is frustrating to add yet another team to the mix, it is far more beneficial to the Stars if Detroit were to lose that game.
As things stand now, it will take a 3-0-0 run, with a regulation win against the Wings in order for Dallas to make the playoffs. If Detroit loses a single point, the Stars can adjust it to any kind of win against the Wings. However, thanks to the Columbus victory over the Sharks, the Stars must now defeat the Jackets in regulation, or lose control of their own playoff hopes. If that were to happen, it would then be up to the Predators to hand the Jackets a loss in their season finale.
The numbers game is always a fun one this time of year, but it's something players and fans cannot dwell on too much. Instead, the focus should be on the next game ahead of them. After all, if they lose that next one, then it's all for naught.
Coming up in today's links: More thoughts on last night's game, playoff news from around the NHL, and why do NHL players wait to have corrective surgery?
- Mike Heika has all of your post game quotes from coaches and players about last night's game. [Dallas News]
- And here are the always-awesome observations from Heika, after living it up at the Hotel California. [Dallas News]
- Razor mentioned briefly last night that the Stars spent some time practicing their shootout the other day. And the results may not have been quite what you imagined. [Dallas News]
- With Minnesota losing in regulation tonight, teams behind them are starting to lick heir lips. Do they need to be worried? [NBC Sports]
- Here are the three stars from last night's group of games. Unfortunately the top two stars are not who Dallas would like to see right now. [Puck Daddy]
- Apparently RNH for the Oilers has had a troubling shoulder issue ever since he was playing junior hockey. He is just now going in for surgery to get it fixed. It seems like there was an extended summer this last year that would have provided ample opportunity to get that done. [Puck Daddy]
- Jaromir Jagr scored yesterday, as the Bruins got their division lead back. They have a tough schedule ahead of them, with two more games to make up still. [ESPN]
- Here's a look at how the Leafs managed to get back into the playoffs. It will be interesting to see how far they get. [Globe And Mail]
- Your video of the day is Glen Gulutzan talking with the press after the loss last night. You can take away some of the intangibles of the video that aren't quite captured with quotes. He looks like he's down to business, and ready to get to work on tomorrow night's game. Hopefully they can turn this thing around.