It almost happened again. Almost.
The Dallas Stars, as they did in Boston, as they did in Detroit, trailed in the third period. They had close calls for and against. Kari Lehtonen strained the laws of space and time, keeping them in it until the late stages. In those other cities they found the magic. Tonight they did not.
When last the Chicago Blackhawks, and more fans than that franchise had in 2006, invaded the American Airlines Center they shellacked the Stars 8-1, and memories of that added to fears that they were coming here tonight to basically steal the Stars' lunch money.
That didn't happen. Not even close. The Stars availed themselves quite well against, perhaps, the highest quality opponent there is in the league, and though they came away with no points it should not in any way cancel out what's been a pretty good last seven days.
5-2 is not an accurate picture of what happened here tonight. Through 58:15 the Stars were within a shot and for large stretches had the better play. The power play that still hasn't scored at home was the difference.
At the onset it appeared as though the script would be followed to the letter. Chicago jumped on them early and had their crowd buzzing but a penalty, and then another, stemmed the tide. The Stars would score on a scrum in front after the second call had expired to take a 1-0 lead.
The goal was huge, but the penalties were what they needed to get their heads into the game. It settled down the pro-Chicago bunch and let the Stars simmer down a little as well. When even strength play resumed the Stars had a handle on it and it no longer looked like David versus Goliath.
It wouldn't last, of course. Cody Eakin lost Marian Hossa coming down the slot and Toews found him to tie things at one.
The Stars would take the lead back on pretty play from Jamie Benn to find Tyler Seguin wide open on the right circle, who beat Crawford for Dallas' second.
A power play failed to extend the lead, as it has, and then... well I'm just going to put the GIF here because describing an own goal from inside your "own" goal is hard.
Brenden Dillon's errant pass was the turnover that killed them but Cole's coverage coming back didn't help. He coasted, wafted from one Hawk to another but never really helped and then somehow ended up in the net before the puck did. Tie game again.
Another failed Stars power play followed.
Inevitably the Hawks earned one of their own after 37:52 of very disciplined hockey by the Stars, and after Dallas had displayed 10 futile power play minutes and only 8 shots on goal Chicago needed just 23 seconds on their first try to take their first lead of the game.
Dallas would try in the third. They pushed. The Blackhawks pushed. Both netmidners were pretty spectacular at times. in the end it wasn't enough and while trying to do too much Marian Hossa squirmed loose and broke in all alone to put this one away for good, and then an empty net goal made the score less than representative of the pretty fine hockey game that was just played.
I am not much of a believer in moral victories. Go look at the standings and then question your own views on them- But this one was close. The Stars played well throughout, but their mistakes were big ones and the Blackhawks are more than capable of taking advantage.
How they handle it headed into a three day break will be interesting. The dreaded Western-Canadian road swing awaits. It was a good game, but they have to find a way to get some points out of Chicago with more and more frequent match-ups upcoming.
More from Defending Big D:
- Kari Lehtonen Continuing to Prove His Worth to Dallas Stars
- Dallas Stars Daily Links: Stars Continue Road Trip with Game in Dallas
- Dallas Stars Recall Aaron Rome, Send Kevin Connauton to AHL on Conditioning Assignment
- Video: Jamie Benn Goes Coast-to-Coast on Detroit Red Wings, Jimmy Howard
- Thoughts on Three-Game Road Trip: Dallas Stars Learning How to Win