After all that, the Dallas Stars are still winless against the Central Division in eight attempts this season.
That's a road, in these new divisional formatics where playoffs are concerned, that leads to nowhere in a hurry.
The Wild are 6-0-0 against the Central, meanwhile.
The Stars fell behind 3-0 tonight to the Minnesota Wild, trailing in the first period before even recording their second shot on goal- A death sentence against these Wild. Failed clearing attempts and defensive lapses dotted a first period full of frustration for the home team, and Darcy Kuemper seemed to be up to his usual tricks this season.
Through their first six periods against him Dallas had managed just two goals, and he shut them out through very nearly two periods again tonight after being pulled in his last outing against the Los Angeles Kings.
Nino Niederreiter, Jason Zucker and Mikael Granlund all punctured Kari Lehtonen in the game's first 31 minutes. It seemed to be "church" in front of a sellout crowd at American Airlines Center this evening, but the Stars would have none of that.
Out-played and out-chanced in period one, the Stars would control play for the final 40 minutes with authority, which finally started translating into success on the scoreboard 37 minutes in.
Ales Hemsky scored an absolute beauty to get the Stars, and himself, finally, on the board. Tyler Seguin would follow with a less-than-artful drive at the net that ended with a deflected puck past Kumper, and Erik Cole caught Kumper napping with a shot from distance that should never go in to tie things at three.
Jokipakka's 1st career NHL point. Hemsky's 500th and Demer's 100th. #wildstones— Jeff K (@jeffk_stars) November 29, 2014
Alex Goligoski's first of the season 13:29 into the third started a celebration that seemed to herald a 4-0-1 home stand after the bitter dissappointment of Carolina's gutting victory to start it.
With their goaltender pulled the desperate Wild won a faceoff that was waived off, then won the next one as well- On a night where Dallas won 60% of them for a change. Then Jamie Benn threw an ill-advised clearing attempt up the middle of the slot that found Thomas Vanek, and the demoralization of yet another home crowd.
Five trips to overtime at American Airlines Center this season. Five losses. The Nashville Predators have gone past 60 minutes at home four times this season- And won all of them. These things matter. Even this early on.
When you score four goals at home you should win. When you record 45 shots on goal at home you should win. And easily.
The Stars controlled play tonight. They did. They out-possessed one of the best possession teams in hockey quite expertly in the game's final 40 minutes- How much of that they can take forward and apply will be up to them. They have to get a result against a Central Division opponent. The Avalanche are snuggled up in their beds as the Stars travel to Denver to do battle tomorrow.
This team has to simultaneously pat themselves on the back for a heck of a comeback tonight while also continuing to confront themselves in the mirror and asking the hard questions. December is pretty much here, and the struggles continue.