The Stars were not supposed to win this game. It was their third game in four nights, the second of a road back-to-back. They played a physical, emotionally charged game last night in Columbus. How could they not be dog-tired for this game? Heck, even the Red Wings players themselves thought this was a prime opportunity for a win, convincing coach Mike Babcock earlier in the week to give Chris Osgood the chance to win his 400th career game at home tonight.
And yet, as they have done all season long, the Dallas Stars defied all logic and will leave Joe Louis Arena with a 4-3 overtime victory in hand.
The Stars came out flat, as expected. Detroit outhustled them to every puck and Dallas' forwards were helplessly unable to slow the Wings' advance into the attacking zone. Detroit outshot the Stars 7-0 through the first ten minutes.
Stephane Robidas went to the box for interference at 2:03, and the Stars were able to kill off 90 seconds of the Wings' power play thanks to some nice pass breakups by Brian Sutherby. But then the Wings skated easily into the Stars' zone and Pavel Datsyuk floated a pretty backhander over Andrew Raycroft's far shoulder to put the Wings on the board. Patrick Eaves would later net another goal to make the score 2-0.
At that point, I was a little worried. The Stars have had a penchant for slow starts, but things were quickly getting out of hand. A two goal deficit on the board, the Stars continued to be outplayed by Detroit for the next minute...until Brad Richards slipped into Wings territory and fired a slapshot past Chris Osgood. The change in momentum was dramatic, to say the least.
Dallas went on the power play with about four minutes left in the period. Loui Eriksson made a deft behind the back pass to Trevor Daley at the point. Daley directed the puck at the net, and Brenden Morrow tipped in the Stars game-tying goal. It's exactly what the Stars have needed to do on the road power play: Have a physical presence down low and pepper the goalie with shots.
Due to an odd combination of penalties, the Stars began the 2nd frame with a lengthy 4-on-3, but failed to do anything with it. Unlike the one-sided first period, both teams traded scoring chances back and forth throughout the second. Dallas couldn't get anything past Chris Osgood on a power play late in the period (despite getting a ton of chances), and Detroit came right back and Kris Draper scored with only seconds remaining before intermission.
The third period? I'll simplify it into three timeframes:
Ten minutes of back and forth hockey.
Five minutes of Wings-dominated play, as the Stars' well-traveled legs finally began to catch up to them.
And then five minutes of chaos. Following up some good play to get the puck in deep, the Stars worked for the puck along the side boards with three minutes left. Meanwhile, Brenden Morrow floated to the front of the net and backhanded Jamie Benn's pass past Osgood to tie the game up. Andrew Raycroft made two more outstanding saves at the other end, and the two best teams in the Western Conference split two points and went to overtime.
The Stars had yet another power play opportunity, this time to potentially end the game. Despite tons of puck movement and a collapsed Detroit PK, they couldn't get many shots past Nicklas Lidstrom or Chris Osgood. So instead they took advantage of a 3-on-1 opportunity with less than a minute left. Loui Eriksson carried it up the ice, and in a play that reminded me of the OT winner against the Devils in the season opener, roofed the game winner past Chris Osgood.
This latest comeback, against all odds, has to make some wonder if this isn't just a "trend" for this team. I know I've personally been cautiously optimistic about this team since they began the season on a hot streak, unwilling to fully believe this team can sustain this level of play over a long stretch.
And yet, they have. They've won 7 of their last 11, and have reached the 20-win mark 28 days earlier than they did last season. The Stars have shown lately that they have the grit and belief in each other to make sure no deficit is not able to overcome...
The question still remains whether this is something sustainable over the course of a season. Give me another month of this and I'll be totally convinced. But right now....they are on quite a roll.
Defending Big D Three Stars:
1. Brenden Morrow, Stars - Maybe his best game of the year?
2. Andrew Raycroft, Stars - Continues to be the best backup the Stars have had in awhile.
3. Chris Osgood, Wings - Stars spoiled his night, but they had to work hard for it.