The process of moving forward after watching Rich Peverley collapse on the bench will be accomplished much like this Dallas Stars team has taken this entire season: one day at a time.
While the win last night is huge in the scheme of the playoff race with two more points earned to inch them closer to Minnesota and the first wild card spot, it's much larger for this team's psyche than just any other game.
Facing a St Louis Blues squad that had an impressive 18-0-1 record against central division foes, in their home barn (where they sport a gaudy 23-5-4 record), would be formidable on any given day. Combine that with the traumatic events on the evening preceding, having two of your regular contributors back in Dallas, and added to missing your starting goaltender already, the evening didn't seem like a recipe for success.
Playing under that kind of circumstances is reminiscent of the pressure of the games in the playoffs.
And Dallas succeeded.
They became just the second central team to beat the Blues all season long. They got scoring depth from all over the lineup. Their big guys scored when the game was on the line. Their backup goaltender came in and gave them the performance necessary to keep them in the game.
Last night's game might just become the defining moment of this season. The moment where they made Stars fans truly believe that this team has something different about it. A mental fortitude that hasn't been seen around here in quite a few seasons.
After this game, I can't believe that the Stars would get into another "win-and-in" scenario and not come out with the win a la the 2010-2011 team. They've already survived a rough stretch and come out the other side, unlike the 2011-2012 team who only had to win one in their last five games to make it into the playoffs and couldn't get it done.
It just isn't in this team's makeup to let anybody else or any circumstance dictate where they end their season.
"Well, I told them that you can look for a reason to lose or you can find a way to win." Lindy Ruff said. "And I said we need to find a way to win, and we need to win it for a couple of our teammates."
For Rich and Alex back in Dallas, as Ralph Strangis put so eloquently last night.
Hockey teams are like a band of brothers -- they go to battle with one another for three quarters of a year. They see the good and the bad together. Suffer through injuries together. Along the way, they start to share their lives with one another. Friendships are made, joining a close-knit fraternity made up of guys that are lucky and skilled enough to lace them up for the best hockey league in the world.
So when a comrade falls, they do the best thing they know how to honor those guys. Lace em up again, and don't give up on the mission. "It's an emotional roller coaster, but we know Pevs would want to be out here and he's not going to want us to sit back and watch,'' said Vernon Fiddler. "He's going to want to go after them, and that's the approach we're taking.''
Peverley, back in Dallas, approved of the effort given by his team. Ruff texted him after the game and "He was happy, says keep rolling. I just said we'll see you tomorrow."
And that's what the Stars will do. They'll keep rolling. One day at a time.