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Stargazing: Stars Defeat Lightning 4-3 in OT

Stargazing is a daily assortment of Dallas Stars  and Texas Stars news, and whatever other random ramblings are bouncing around inside our heads.

The Lightning and Stars entered the game on Saturday night tied for the league lead in overtime losses. Loui Eriksson and Tom Wandell made sure the Lightning alone can boast of that on Sunday as the Stars narrowly avoided what would have been a pretty gut wrenching loss.

Dallas played their seventh game in eleven nights, going 4-2-1 in that stretch. When you look at the numbers like that, it sounds good. 4-2-1 is a .643 points percentage, and a nice looking stretch of hockey on paper. When you look a little closer you can see that they could have very easily could have finished that stretch with three straight losses. They needed a last second goal to send the Blues game to OT. They got embarrassed in Phoenix, and they needed to kill a penalty in the final two minutes of the Lightning game last night. We give them credit for pulling as many points out of those games as they did, but remain concerned with the perpetual inconsistency.

The Stars will make their last trip to Detroit on Monday to play the Red Wings. After that, four of the next five are against divisional opponents, and that's an area where Dallas needs to improve. They've already lost two to the Kings and two to the Coyotes. December is a great opportunity to improve those numbers and further bury the Ducks, who they play twice in the next two weeks.

After the jump, lots of quotes and reaction to last night's big OT win...


Wandell recounts the OT action:

"Loui came in 2-on-2 and I know he's a reallly smart player so I was just looking to get open," said Wandell after his first career overtime goal and third winner this season. "It wasn't the best shot, but it went in. It was a big win. We came back strong."

The Stars didn't want to go to the shootout, having compiled a 1-5 record in the tiebreaker this season.

"Had we not gutted it out and got that overtime goal, it would have been pretty disappointing," Stars captain Brenden Morrow said.

Smith agreed that it probably wasn't the best shot:

"I was there and I thought he was shooting high but he got it under my pad," Smith said of the game-winner. "I think he missed on it a little and didn't get all of it."

Personally, I don't care what kind of shot it was. 2 points is 2 points.


Speaking of Smith, it was good to see Smitty back at the AAC. We were all sad to see him go. The Tampa Tribune talked to Mike about his return...

Mike Smith swears he never circled Saturday's game on his calendar when the schedule came out during the summer. He knew at some point he would make his way back to Dallas to face his former team.

But that didn't mean he wasn't excited to get between the pipes and face the Stars in his first return trip to face the organization he spent honing his craft with during the first five years of his career.

"It's exciting to be back, it's great. I had a couple of good years here in Dallas, met a lot of good people and I can't say enough about the organization," Smith said.

"I have a lot of great memories with the players on this team and some great friendships that will never be lost.

"I wish I would have beat them."


The Tribune also spent some time with Brad Richards:

"This is the best start I've obviously had personally," Richards said. "It's been good to get some confidence going right from Day One. I don't think when I first got here that they really understood me nor did I clearly understand what they wanted, and that's normal. They had a really good team when I got traded here, they were used to playing and doing things a certain way. It took awhile for me to fit in."

He said heading into Saturday wasn't quite as strange facing his former team in Dallas as was his first return to Tampa back in January.

"It will always be different going into that building, and (Saturday) will be fun," Richards said, "but this doesn't have the same feeling as going into the Forum and playing in front of your old fans and playing on the ice surface you won a Stanley Cup on."

Richards is currently second in the NHL in assists behind only Joe Thornton, who is cheating because he plays with Dany Heatley.

Dbd-sm_medium brings you Marc Crawford's post game comments:

"The two points is crucial," coach Marc Crawford said. "When we ended up killing that penalty off with two minutes to go, getting into overtime, our guys breathed a big sigh of relief. I liked our chances going into overtime. We got our couple of opportunities in overtime and scored on the second one. It’s huge, we get the two points. They’re not always going to be masterpieces. Tonight I thought we did a lot more things correctly than not."

"It was a bad third goal there that went in on us," Crawford said. "It happens. You have to persevere and battle through it. Alex made a couple of really good saves on the penalty kill."

"I thought we did a pretty good job all night. We drew a lot of penalties," Crawford said. "I thought their goalie, Mike Smith, was pretty good in the early part of the game. While it was his mistake that gave us the 5-on-3 and allowed us to get our first goal, he was a pretty important guy for them early in the game. I thought we generated quite a few chances. We did the things we wanted to, and really we weren’t giving up very much against them."

Brad Richards:

"We had a four-minute power play, and we want to try to put our foot down and have a killer instinct, right through our team, and figure out a way to make it 4-1," Richards said. "It seemed like we just kind of let our foot off and let them back in the game."


I thought our very own Brandon Worley had the best nugget from the game last night on faceoffs:

Faceoffs. Every game we talk about them. Against the Lightning, the Stars went into the third period winning 70% of the faceoffs and were absolutely dominating in the circle. Yet at the end of the game they had won just 48%, right near their season average. In a third period where the game nearly became a complete disaster, it's not hard to see where the breakdowns started.

Ribeiro lost 13 of the 20 faceoffs he took. Steve Ott took 4 draws and won 3 of them.


Mark Stepneski's thoughts:

That was a strange game.

I thought the Stars power play was great, scoring three times to continue it’s nice recent run and then it fizzles on a 3:49 chance to put the game away, letting Tampa Bay hang around the game.

I thought Alex Auld was outstanding until he lets in two in 47 seconds, letting Tampa tie the game. The Stamkos power play shot was a beauty but the Halpern goal to tie it was just a bad goal.

I thought the Stars’ discipline and ability to stay out the box was impressive and there they are killing a power play in the final two minutes with the game tied. They dodged that bullet.

I have a hard time coming away from that one and saying that Auld was outstanding... Aside from the obviously atrocious Halpern score, I thought he was perhaps a little deep in his crease for that first goal. I haven't had a chance to check a replay on that one. He was certainly solid enough as backups go, and it will be interesting to see who starts at The Joe on Monday.

It's probably tacky to complain about the officiating when your team had two 5-on-3's. So I'll just limit my commentary to one word: Really? (Particularly the Grossman penalty)


These busy Saturday's in the league are real standings shufflers. The following Western conference teams gained at least one point last night: Dallas, Los Angeles, Chicago, Calgary, Columbus, Detroit, St. Louis, Minnesota, Colorado, Vancouver, and Nashville. 11 teams in the West gained points last night. I don't think 95 points is going to do it this year if this keeps up.

The Stars are seven points from 1st place and seven points from 14th.

Insert debate about the "loser point" here.