"We settled down and played, for a back-to-back game, I thought we played hard, and I thought in the third period, we were starting to take over," Ruff said. "The penalties gave (the Canucks) a little bit of energy, but the team gave me everything they had, emptied the tank, and I thought value-wise, that was a hell of a game to be watching."
Taking over in the third period of the back-end of back-to-back games is not something the Stars have been able to say a lot in recent seasons. Dallas was 4-8-1 in such scenarios last year after starting off the year 0-3 (not including the March 11 game against the St. Louis Blues, and this season, just like last, things have taken a decided turn for the better in that area in the latter half of the season.
The Stars have won their last two back ends of back-to-backs and four of their last seven dating back to the start of 2015, a stretch that looks like this:
- January 4 - Blackhawks 5, Stars 4 (OT)
- January 18 - Stars 6, Blackhawks 3
- February 8 - Stars 3, Rangers 2 (OT)
- February 14 - Avalanche 4, Stars 1
- February 22 - Wild 6, Stars 2
- March 13 - Stars 4, Capitals 2
- March 28 - Stars 4, Canucks 3 (OT)
That's an overall record of 4-2-1 in the back-end of back to backs, which is well above average (Ken Campbell pegged that number at .480 in this piece from 2012). The Stars were 0-4 on the back end of back-to-backs to start the season, leaving the overall record at 4-6-1, which, again, is in the neighborhood of the league average.
It's also worth noting many of the wins have come over good teams. The Rangers have already clinched a playoff berth, and the Hawks of January still had both parts of their two-headed dragon. It's clearly not a matter of the schedule breaking right for the Stars to finally win in this situation.
Any way you look at it, recent record or full season, it's a huge improvement from the epic problems this team has had in the same scenario in the last few seasons.
- Lindy Ruff talks a bit about Trevor Daley in the DMN recap. Daley was a part of some scary moments in his own end (though I'm not sure you can hold the second goal against him, as he was pretty clearly hipchecked into his own goalie in an off-puck interference/goalie interference), but he also had two beautiful primary assists to Tyler Seguin and John Klingberg. [DallasNews.com]
- Mark Stepneski has the official site recap here, including the tidbit that the Stars are 12-5-1 against the Pacific Division. Can we just move all those cities to the Central time zone and send the Stars back? Especially since there's a chance the third Pacific seed would miss the playoffs if they went on straight point total? [DallasStars.com]
- Our friends over at Nucks Misconduct make a good point that the Stars got a break from the referees in last night's game as well, as a quite iffy icing call broke their way and the ensuing face-off led to Eaves game-tying goal. You take the good, you take the bad... [Nucks Misconduct]
- Ryan Garbutt had a relatively quiet night in his return to the lineup, finishing with no shots, one missed shot, one hit, one block and a minus-one in a little more than nine minutes of ice time. He's been deep in the Stars doghouse recently, having not scored since Dec. 31, and Mike Heika thinks he's in an awkward position for next season. [DallasNews.com]
- Shane Doan, who has a history of walking the edge of dirty play, boarded Kris Letang in Saturday's game between the Penguins and Coyotes, causing Letang to hit the back of his head on the boards after an awkward fall. Letang, who has a history of concussions as well as a stroke, was admitted to the hospital for observation after it took a long time to get him off the ice. The hit was borderline late and it was definitely boarding, but it's in that gray area where it may not call for any further discipline. Much like Patrick Eaves earlier this year, Letang was clearly not right getting off the ice. All the best to him for a quick recovery. [ESPN/YouTube]
- There was an emergency backup goalie sighting in Boston as goalie coach Bob Essena, a former NHL goalie but now 50, donned the gear after Tuukka Rask removed himself from the game against the New York Rangers with dehydration issues. He didn't have to play, though as Niklas Svedberg capably backstopped his team to a victory. [CSN-NE]
- Also from this game, Tanner Glass was ejected and later fined for butt-ending Adam McQuaid in the face. [USA Today]
- The college hockey world is working out their Frozen Four, and there were two new entries on Saturday. From the "probably expected" category, Jack Eichel and Boston University used a late third-period goal to defeat Minnesota-Duluth for a berth in the tournament. (St. Paul Pioneer-Press)
- There was also a pretty large upset as the Rochester Institute of Technology knocked off Minnesota State, the number one overall seed, with a late goal. [Democrat and Chronicle]
- Goalie scoring a goal? Check. Announcer freaking out about it? Check. No idea what he's saying because it's in Finnish? Extra check! Just like international soccer goals, the sentiment comes through loud and clear even in another language. [Puck Daddy]
- And finally, I leave you with the best of all hockey hugs - the overtime game winner. It was captured in the picture for this story and below in video format.