The Stars have won three of their last four games. Let that soak in for a second. I mean no disrespect when I say that might be the best it gets for this team this season. I certainly hope it is not. This is the third time the Stars have won 3 of 4 this year, and they're still looking for that elusive three game winning streak. Still, 3 of 4 (.750) is exactly the kind of hockey that they simply must play the entire rest of the way to be in the playoff mix. A tall order, for sure, but at least this morning you can look at the standings and say they're only three points out of 8th. BTW, what is going on with the Calgary Flames?
More importantly, the Stars ended their streak of road futility at a staggering 10 games. It took a trip to Edmonton where the Oilers wallow in their bottom of the barrel status, but they got the job done. Unlike the Canuckle fan, who was bemoaning the quality of their win over Edmonton a couple of days prior, I think we might want to overlook a very forgettable third period and just say that a win is a win, and we're happy to have it. We'll take them any way they come.
As for the game itself, I thought Marty Turco was pretty good. It's hard to find fault with the goals that were scored, and he kept them in it in his own frantic way in the third period. I felt really bad for Mike Modano when he kicked that puck in; I'm glad it was erased by the Richards line. I'd like to see more from the power play, but with Ribeiro and Morrow out, what can you do?
Speaking of the Richards line, the FSN broadcast showed Marc Crawford talking to Brad Richards immediately following the 3rd Edmonton goal. In all likelihood, Crow was asking him if his eye was good for another shift, asking him if he saw the blond in the 4th row behind the bench, or saying "Can you believe this _ _ _ _ is happening again?", but instead I like to think he was telling him "YOU GO GET THAT ONE BACK. NOW." Because that's just what they did.
Isn't it weird to think you might have watched Mike Modano's last game in Edmonton last night?
Who do you start in goal in Denver?
Follow the jump for the quotes and reaction to their first regulation road win since November 18th...
Sam Gagner scored twice to rally the Oilers from a 3-1 deficit. His second of the game with 1:02 remaining went off the skate of the Stars’ Mike Modano and looked like it would send the teams into overtime and give Edmonton a shot at its first win since Dec. 30 against Toronto.
But the Oilers turned the puck over in their defensive zone, leading Neal to score his 20th of the season past a stunned Devan Dubnyk, who remained winless in eight career NHL games.
"I knew when we scored that goal late that we were going to win that hockey game. I mean, I knew it in my heart," Edmonton coach Pat Quinn said. "And unfortunately that didn’t grab my heart, it grabbed my guts."
I knew it too. Being wrong was never so much fun.
Yet, Dallas played a good game for much of Friday's confrontation. The Oilers were turnover machines, and the Stars took advantage and kept the pressure on. They could have capitalized more on the early power plays, but they came up with the scores they needed and they had a comfy 3-1 lead.
That's where I felt the biggest problem was. I felt there was a clear backing off from the forecheck and a feeling of sitting on the lead, especially late in the second period and then for much of the third. Stars coach Marc Crawford disagreed, saying he felt the team tried to push the pace. They did get nine shots on goal against Devan Dubnyk in the third period, so it wasn't a completely lopsided affair, but boy they were stuck in their own end for long shifts there.
And, because of that, I thought Marty Turco was great. The goal with 18.1 seconds left in the second period came on a great pass that nobody could have stopped. The goal with 1:01 left came when Mike Modano accidentally deflected the puck into the net with his skate. Inbetween, the Oilers had some real great scoring chances, and Turco was there for them with 35 saves. Heck, even after James Neal scored with 22.2 seconds left, Turco had to make two great saves to close out the game.
Safe is death. We've heard them say that so many times since Brad Richards arrived, and yet they continue trying to "not lose" games in the precious few situations where they actually have third period leads.
The rookie goaltender, still looking for his first NHL win, sat in his stall shaking his head in disbelief.
"I don’t know what to say about the way that one just finished," said Devan Dubnyk, who was 23 seconds away from at least securing a point in overtime when the Dallas Stars’ James Neal, with a feed from tumbling Oilers defenceman Jason Strudwick, snuffed out Edmonton’s hopes.
"That seems to be the way things are going right now. It just went right on his tape," Dubnyk continued. "I had to push to my right because if they’re throwing it to the front of net, guys were going to have their sticks out to poke it. I have to have my body there for deflections.
"All I could do was turn my head and see the puck going by."
A few feet away, Dustin Penner was wondering how it was that another good finish went so bad. And on it went. On went the Oilers struggling to explain kick in the gut they got in a last second 4-3 win by the Dallas Stars. On went the losing.
While the Oilers and Stars have both struggled mightily this season, sharing a plethora of similarities, I think I would take issue (were I an Oiler fan) with the fact that they're playing so poorly while also having spent the 6th most in the entire NHL in payroll so far this year. That is a tough pill to swallow. In their defense, they have a league leading 290 man games loss to injury, evidently.
Well as many of you saw, the subsequent 12 seconds could be an instructional video on how not to play hockey. Indeed, we have such a video below; the sequence of pain described here begins around the 7:48 mark and is well worth the watch. Horcoff actually won the draw, Grebeshkov worked along the left side right past Moreau who did absolutely nothing to make himself available for an outlet pass or to support the puck carrier in any way. Rather than the safe play of shovelling the puck up the boards and out, Grebs turned to his third option and fed a pass into the middle of the ice. The Stars intercepted and held the zone, while no fewer than four Oilers floundered just inside the blueline, none of them reacting in time to prevent the inevitable. Moreau made matters worse by getting in the way of both of his linemates who were trying to peel back in desperation. Last man back was ... Jason Strudwick, who was himself caught flat footed and too far from the goal. Overreaching, he made a valiant attempt to intercept Richards' cross crease pass to Eriksson (which Dubnyk appeared to have covered), only to stumble awkwardly as he swatted the puck right into the path of the oncoming James Neal. The rising young Star wasn't about to overlook that gift horse in the goal mouth, and snapped 'er home before Dubnyk had any chance to recover. The crowd screamed, gasped, went silent. We were stunned. 22.2 seconds remained, the game was surely lost. In regulation. Again. How? Why? Oh, why?
Everyone finished the game, so I'm assuming everybody will be OK for Sunday's game against the Avalanche. We'll see if either Brenden Morrow or Jere Lehtinen can join the team. Tom Wandell has a knee injury he sustained on Thursday in Vancouver when he was run awkwardly into the boards. He will not play Sunday, and I fear he will be out a lot longer than that.
Mark Fistric and Brad Richards gave us scares last night within about a minute of each other. Mike assumes everyone is OK, but the Wandell news is sobering. We have talked about needing him to step up, but also about what an important developmental time this is in his young career. Now it appears as though that could be on hold with a serious knee problem.
"It was a great finish, and something we really, really needed," said Mike Modano, who accidentally kicked in the tying goal, which was credited to Sam Gagner. "We were on the verge of a nervous breakdown there when they scored, but we stuck with it and fought back and forced them to make a mistake."
"I like how our team played in the third period," coach Marc Crawford said. "We got back on the forecheck and got back on finishing checks. The very end of the game, it wasn't a game that came down to the last shot because the last shot was a shot and a rebound. For us, I think we got a little bit of the bounce, but I thought we worked pretty hard for that bounce. I like the way our players dug in, and it's a step in the right direction for us."
I'll let you guys comment on that one.
"We made some mistakes, and we have to work on those," said coach Marc Crawford. "I really do see some areas where a few simple plays would have helped us out. "But I also think we needed this emotionally, and we deserved the win. It was really big for us."
"We made some mistakes, and we have to work on those," said coach Marc Crawford. "I really do see some areas where a few simple plays would have helped us out.
"But I also think we needed this emotionally, and we deserved the win. It was really big for us."
"It's been a long time coming for our club on the road," goalie Marty Turco said. "I'm pretty happy getting the win, finally, because enough's enough."
"It was one of those things where it was, 'Why here, why now?'" Turco said about the unfortunate bounce off Modano's skate. "But to get out of something like the streak of losing on the road like we're in, we knew it wasn't going to be easy, but we didn't know it was going to be that hard coming down at the end."
"That's the goaltending we need," Ott said. "He has a new focus, I know, for the rest of the season, and the Marty Turco that we're used to I think he's going to be that guy the rest of the way."
"When you have guys missing you try to do a little extra, and all the guys in this room are doing a little bit extra," Ott said. "We're continuing to try and push with the players that are missing."
For those that don't know, Defending Big D will be holding a Haiti Relief Fundraiser on Sunday, January 24th during the Dallas Stars game against the Colorado Avalanche. Haiti was hit by not one massive earthquake, but several major aftershocks that continue to plague rescue efforts. The US Navy has sent a hospital ship and the USS Carl Vinson to render aid, and there are thousands of American and Canadian volunteers on their way to help in any way they can.
Click here for more details. We hope to see some new usernames de-lurk and participate in the GDT. It's completely free to comment, and lots of fun.