How on earth do you follow up anything as spectacularly heartfelt and historic as Mike Modano's jersey retirement ceremony was with an ordinary hockey game, albeit a crucial one in the Western Conference's playoff race?
The emotion and fanfare of the jersey retirement activities would take an unknown toll on the team itself, who witnessed the event on the bench. The question was how much, and how long would it take to snap out of it?
Jamie Benn thinks that Mike Modano guy was pretty good, but needed only 31 seconds to score one of his signature goals- A blistering wrister from the slot.
That was where any encouraging signs in the first period began and ended, as the Stars struggled all period long to get the puck out of their zone when any line but Benn's was deployed, and after some serious pushing at even strength it was on the penalty kill that the Wild would get even. Erik Haula broke free while a four-forward power play group for Dallas looked on and beat Kari Lehtonen high to the glove side.
Dallas got it back with an Alex Chiasson tally four seconds into a Brodziak tripping minor, but special teams would continue to haunt the Stars in spite of it.
Three consecutive minors (Daley, Benn, Horcoff) afforded the Wild unfettered access to pucks toward Kari Lehtonen's net, culminating in a power play equalizer for Charlie Coyle when the Stars lost a scrambling battle in front of their sprawled netminder.
The Wild rapidly approached 30 shots in two periods as a period of even-strength play finally broke out, but Ryan Garbutt's hooking penalty in the late stages gave Minnesota their fourth power play of the period, fittingly ending the frame up a man, though the score remained 2-2.
Their hard work would be repayed with facility when a Brenden Dillon turnover led to another long range shot and a goal by Kyle Brodziak past a partially screen Kari Lehtonen. The play came after a fairly blatant interference infraction by Minnesota that went uncalled seconds earlier.
The zebras would attempt to repay the Stars for their mistake with a tripping call against Matt Cooke seconds later, but the Stars were unable to do anything with the power play, as the theme of the night continued.
Then things got really interesting.
Erik Haula steam-rolled Kari Lehtonen, ending the big Finn's night with a laceration and possibly more, receiving a five-minute major a game misconduct. The Stars power play went back to work for 4:34 worth of fruitless, frustrating miscommunication and poor passing.
A tremendous individual effort by Tyler Seguin saved the thing as he burst into the slot and beat Kuemper to knot things again.
Then Erik Cole got loose behind the Minnesota defense after a neutral zone turnover, and made a savvy play on Kuemper as he leaned, just enough, to his right, and the goaltender bit. Cole created that room on the blocker side with the subtle move and then took advantage of it to put Dallas back in front after trailing 3-2 earlier in the period.
Tim Thomas was then called upon to shut it down and take it home- And after an adventurous moment or two he did just that. Two points in the bank.
The Stars now have more ROW wins than Minnesota, and sit just three points back. They moved three points up on Phoenix after the Coyotes blew a 2-0 third-period lead in Washington tonight.
- A record setting crowd for Dallas tonight- 19,109 is the most in franchise history. They packed them in tight for the Modano stuff and then gave them, eventually, a good show en route to a win.
- Parise, Koivu, Moulson on their first power play unit. That is silly, and they will be talking about moving up on Colorado before anyone talks about moving up on them for the first wild card playoff position.
- That's six points in his last six games for Alex Goligoski, who, again, every time we say this it seems like something happens to end it- Is playing really well right now. The alliance with Trevor Daley has been a fruitful one for both of them.
- How can the power play get any worse? Allow a complete nobody in Haula to score a beautiful shorthander like that.
- I was hesitant to say it in the last two weeks a couple of times but it sticks out like a sore thumb now- Alex Chiasson, forget about the goal, is playing really, really well. A man transformed by that Olympic break. And they need it, too, as the lack of depth was painfully obvious against a Minnesota team with some nice pieces up and down their lineup.
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