So I'll admit with about five minutes left in tonight's game I had already done up a long and drawn out post of how the Dallas Stars started nicely in the first period but then blew a 2-0 lead and proceeded to choke away tonight's game against the San Jose Sharks with a bunch of mental mistakes and horrible defense.
Granted that did happen and for about I'd say 40 minutes of this 60 minute regulation game the Stars were not good at all. Sure they came out playing exactly how they said before the game and jumped on top of a team that maybe was a little road weary as Brad Richards and James Neal picked up goals on what never be mistaken for planned "draw it up on a white-board" type plays, but still the manner in which both goals were scored certainly reflected the whole gritty / crash-the-net-and-don't-let-up theme that the Stars wanted to roll with.
Once they got up in the game though, the Stars let off the gas pedal and started layering mental mistakes on top of mental mistakes and against a team like the San Jose Sharks that was just asking for a loss as the Sharks scored four goals in a row and all of them were goals that came as a result of very sloppy defensive plays.
And it wasn't just the defense with on-ice lapses in judgment. Even the two Stars scorers were taking dumb penalties as Richards got goaded into a ten minute misconduct by Sharks scrub Torrey Mitchell and Neal didn't take care of his stick and took a double minor for high sticking.
I don't think anyone could have blamed Stars fans for figuring the game was a lost cause by the time Patrick Marleau scored the Sharks fourth goal in a row to make it 4-2 with about fourteen minutes left in the game, yet once again as they have all season, the Stars showed a ton of heart and a never give up attitude. It started with a scrappy James Neal goal to bring the Stars within one, and then 19 second after that, Mike Ribeiro happened. His first goal of the season to tie the game followed by a second goal in overtime to win it.
All that after some of us in tonight's game day thread wondered if he had lost all confidence in his shooting game.
Hockey sure is a game of severe ups and downs huh? We had both tonight.
(More thoughts and three stars after the jump)
- Again the Richards / Neal / Eriksson like was good when it had a chance to be on the ice together. 8 points between those three tonight.
- Trevor Daley and Matt Niskanen were not good. Mark Fistric - even though he did have a nice fight standing up for Steve Ott of all people - wasn't much better. All three of them made repeated mental mistakes and were constantly out of position. On the flip side, Stephane Robidas was his reliable self, Nicklas Grossman had a nice game and while Karlis Skrastins only got credit for one blocked shot on the scoresheet, I'd argue he has at least three of four blocked shots and a couple of broken up passes on top of that.
- Who knew that Steve Ott would be one of the Stars most reliable face off takers? Outside of him and Richards, it was a horrid night on the faceoff dot for the Stars and again the parade of bad faceoff-ness was led by Ribeiro who went 3 and 13 on the night! Jamie Benn wasn't much better.
- Krys Barch only saw three minutes of ice time tonight but again he made the most of it with a couple of hits and a good fight in the second period that I am sure was supposed to serve as a bit of a wake up call for his teammates. I know that with such little ice time, it's hard to get into a game flow, but Barch did a great job of it tonight and does deserve kudos.
- Where was Joe Thornton tonight? He does know this isn't the playoffs and that he doesn't have to pull his disappearing act yet right?
- Kari Lehtonen was good for most of the game but by that fourth goal I think you could tell he was really starting to get frustrated with how the Sharks were able to get their goals. It was nice to see the players in front of Kari pick up their game late and bail him out of a loss that Kari really didn't deserve.
- Suddenly the Stars have won five in a row at home and come away from this little mini home stand with two big wins against two division rivals that they won't see for a while now. I don't think we can underestimate how big it is for Dallas to come away with four points even if the Sharks did manage to get one point of their own tonight.
2 - Mike Ribiero (DAL)
3 - Patrick Marleau (SJ)