The Dallas Stars lately had been talking about consistency and getting two needed points, but mainly they talked about internal leadership and the will to play hard throughout a game. Unfortunately it had all been just talk since the Stars were unable to win in regulation in the new year and were reeling from a 4-2 loss against Tampa Bay in which they allowed three third period goals. So the Stars skated hard in practice, said all the right things again to the press and proceeded to come out flat and listless in the first period against the Panthers.
The Stars were outshot 10 to 5 in the first and were grossly outplayed. Players weren't fighting for the puck and were consistently losing one on one battles all over the ice. Once again, a defensive breakdown and the inability to cover the backside of the net hurt them as the Panthers took a 1-0 lead when Karlis Skrastins knocked in a rebound following a two on one. It could have been much worse yet the Stars were fortunate to be down just one goal heading into the locker room.
Whatever was said during the first intermission of Wednesday night's game certainly worked. Perhaps Dave Tippet threatened to send the whole team to Saskatchewan for some outdoor conditioning. Whatever it was, a completely different team took the ice in the second period and showed the potential for what this team is actually capable of.
Stifling defense, solid goaltending, a scoring power play and strong play in front of the net all contributed to the turnaround in the game. Mike Modano tied the game in the first off a nifty cross ice pass from Brad Richards on the power play. Richards sold the shot from the point so well that Panthers goaltender Tomas Vokoun was well out of his crease to contest the shot and was unable to get back across to react to the pass to Modano.
Mike Ribeiro then put the Stars up for good late in the second period when a Matt Niskanen shot from the point got through Vokoun's pads and landed on Ribeiro's stick who tapped in the easy goal. He then iced the game with a breakaway goal off a Steve Ott pass and a empty-netter to seal the win and get a hat trick on the night.
In a game where it could have all gone downhill and sent the Stars in a tail spin Dallas responded admirably and ended the unofficial first half of the season on a high note. Now, the key is to once again attempt to build off momentum and put together a sold push for a playoff spot.
Head over to Litter Box Cats for an opponent's view of the game.
>Stars defensemen Darryl Sydor appeared to be fine after a rocking hit in the second period that left the veteran shaken up on the ice for some time.
>It was Mike Ribeiro's first career hat trick. He is also the fifth Dallas Stars player to record a hat trick this season.
BW's stars of the game:
Mike Riberio, Dallas: A hat trick, 7 shots on net and was a force to reckon with after the second period. The Panther's had no answer for how to corral the Stars best stick handling forward.
Steve Ott, Dallas: Once again provided the spark for the team that woke them up after a dismal first period. His hard work and smart pass led to the breakaway goal by Ribeiro in the second period.
Mike Modano, Dallas: Made several savvy defensive moves in his own zone and scored the game-tieing goal in the second period on a the power play.
Highlights of the game: