The Dallas Stars are still alive. Technically.
The loss in Edmonton to the Oilers seemed to signal the final white-flag waving, but a win over the Vancouver Canucks to finish the trip combined with a Winnipeg Jets loss to the Chicago Blackhawks courtesy of a Jonathan Toews goal with 30 seconds to play have extended the season that just won't die for Lindy Ruff's bunch.
They still need to win out- Earning 12 points in their final six games to a maximum of just six in six for Winnipeg to have a chance. The Jets face the Rangers, Blues, Canucks, Wild, Avalanche and Flames.
Factor into that the fact that the Stars now own more ROW's (regulation/overtime wins) than do the Jets, which would come into play if the inconceivable should actually occur.
Intrigue, at least, is very much alive for the Dallas Stars. There's still a chance.
They now have to find a way past the Calgary Flames. Again. Dallas watched the Flames out-shoot them 34-30 last Thursday and get two goals from one of the most unlikely candidates in all of hockey in Deryk Engelland, both on long-range hopefuls, before prevailing in the shootout.
Calgary is engaged in their own urgent battle and sit in the final wild-card spot in the West currently thanks to a one-point lead over the Los Angeles Kings, though their opposition has a game in hand. The Sharks, losers to Pittsburgh last night, appear vanquished. The Kings do not- And that will drive the Flames here tonight.
After losing to Dallas Calgary dropped a 4-2 decision in Minnesota, then defeated Nashville in Nashville last night by the commanding final score of 5-2 (empty netter). Both sides enjoyed only a single power play and the Flames out-shot them 30-29. Jonas Hiller recorded the win, freeing Karri Ramo to take another swing at the Stars if the coaching staff so wishes.
This will be Calgary's fourth game in six days. They've dropped five of eight overall, though two were in extra-time. They're 6-2-1 on the second night of a back-to-back (How in the world have they not played more?), so that appears to offer more of an advantage to them than to Dallas.
Their lineup, once again:
Lance Bouma, Kris Russell, Michael Ferland and Jiri Hudler comprised a four-goal run for Calgary in Nashville last night against backup Carter Hutton.
On the Stars' side of things, Lindy Ruff reinserted Ryan Garbutt in Vancouver and Jordie Benn missed with back soreness while Trevor Daley returned from a knee injury with two assists, but was on the ice for all three Canucks goals.
How those things shake out are unknown- The Stars enjoyed an off day after returning from their Western Canadian swing.
One thing that seems certain is that Kari Lehtonen will be in net as the Stars continue to put their best, most desperate foot forward in prolonging the season as well as they have.
From Stars PR:
BENN DOWN THIS ROAD BEFORE
Stars captain Jamie Benn recorded a goal (1-0=1) on Saturday night against Vancouver. He now has points in five of his last six games (5-3=8) and in seven of his last nine (5-5=10). The native of Victoria, B.C. shares fifth in the League in scoring with 72 points (28-44=72) and is tied for ninth in the League in assists (44). In 19 career games against Calgary, he has scored 23 points (12-11=23) including three points (2-1=3) in two meetings this season. Benn now sits just one assist shy of matching his career-high of 45 assists in a single season, which he set in 2013-14.
THE ONCE AND FUTURE KLING
Stars defenseman John Klingberg scored the game-winning goal in overtime to help the Stars defeat the Canucks on Saturday night. Klingberg recorded his third game-winning goal of his NHL career and his first goal in 21 games (last: Feb. 5 at Tampa Bay). Klingberg is tied for sixth in NHL rookie scoring with 38 points (11-27=38) and shares fourth amongst first-year skaters in assists (27). The native of Gothenburg, Sweden has skated in 59 games this season and leads all rookie defenseman in points (38) and assists (27) along with being tied for first in goals (11).