The feeling from most observers - us here at DBD included - was that if the Stars were going to have any kind of chance at making a serious playoff run two things had to happen: One, they had to get better in their own end of the ice and two, they had to look at going 5 and 1 or at the very worst 4-1-1 on this six game home stand.
They took care of the first part tonight with the entire team playing a better and more complete game than we've seen since the break. It wasn't perfect by any stretch, hell it wasn't even that great, but it was a solid effort at both ends of the ice. Players went all out to block shots, they fought hard for loose pucks in the corner, and except for one mental and physical breakdown from Karlis Skrastins in the first period that helped lead to a Fredrik Modin goal they didn't allow their opponents on this night to have any kind of free reign anywhere in their own zone.
Now unfortunately even with the improved effort and better play, they still only managed to scrap out a single point in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings and while the Stars will gladly take the point and skate off with it it, the fact it isn't two points means the margin for error on this home stand just got even smaller than it already was.
The funny thing is I've kinda gotten used to writing these recaps and criticizing the Stars for various issues with their gameplay, but tonight I can't really do that. I mean sure I can nitpick over the faceoffs and how Dallas wasn't really that good at them. I could complain about the powerplay which went 0 for 4 and while wasn't outright horrible wasn't good either. I could even point out the penalty kill wasn't perfect allowing the previously mentioned Modin goal while down a man. But really after those three things, there wasn't much to complain about.
The defense was pretty good in this one, they did a fairly effective job on keeping the Kings limited to single shots with very few rebound chances and they moved the puck well out of their zone when they had the chance to. The offense was pretty solid as well - which I know seems kind of silly to say in a game where only one goal was scored and we've spent the last two weeks harping on how this team needs to score more than once per game - but tonight was more about Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier who was in goal and did a fantastic job of keeping the puck out of the net in place of regular starter Jonathan Quick who was back in L.A. with his wife and newly born baby daughter.
Brenden Morrow was finally able to snap out of his slump and pick up his 15th goal of the season and right after that play looked like a man who could finally loosen the grip on his stick a little. Mike Modano also had a pretty good game offensively... There wasn't a single forward on the ice for Dallas where I thought they needed some major improvement.
And we can't complain at all about Marty Turco as he kept up his solid play in what can only be called a light 28 shots against night. He looks confident in goal and isn't giving up any kind of bad rebounds.
The more I think about it, the more I realize that for the first time in quite a while I can walk away from watching a Stars loss and know in my heart they probably deserved a better fate. Sure it doesn't match the feeling I would have had if they had won, but it's still giving me this odd sense of calm, like maybe the seemingly impossible is in fact possible and this club can rally at home and get right back in the playoff race.
Either that or I've had too much Dr. Pepper to drink tonight. I'm not sure which. I'll have a better idea come Sunday afternoon when the Stars take on the Colorado Avalanche for a 2pm CST start (And don't forget that we 'spring forward' this weekend an hour ahead on the clocks, so adjust accordingly!)
The DBD Four & 38th Stars:
1st Star - Jonathan Bernier (LA): If not for his 29 save effort, this was easily a Stars win.
2nd Star - Marty Turco (DAL): Quietly had just as good a night as Bernier did.
3rd Star - Fredrik Modin (LA): Did exactly what he was supposed to do on the Kings PP, stand in front of goalie and be big. It paid off with a goal and he was the Kings most consistent forward tonight.
4th Star - Brenden Morrow (DAL): Finally got the goalless monkey off his back and for the second straight game led at both ends of the ice.
38th Star - Richard Clune (LA): A -1 in 4:12 has to feel even worse when you consider Krys Barch was able to at least get two shots and stay even with about a minute less ice time.