Heading into tonight's game against the San Jose Sharks, the Dallas Stars badly needed a win to keep pace with the 8th place Winnipeg Jets to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
The Stars got the win, hammering the Sharks by a score of 5-1, but in the end it didn't matter as the Jets defeated the Minnesota Wild 2-0 in their game, officially ending the Stars' playoff chances.
Captain Jamie Benn had two goals and an assist in the victory. Benn now has 80 points on the season, only one behind Sidney Crosby for the league lead. Colton Sceviour, Patrick Eaves and Ryan Garbutt had the other tallies, while Jhonas Enroth made 23 saves for the win.
San Jose was also eliminated from playoff contention tonight because of the Jets win. Seeing the Stars manhandle their Pacific Division foes, on their home ice and given the circumstances of both teams, was a small consolation prize.
The Stars opened the scoring a mere 28 seconds in when the point shot of defenseman Jason Demers, the former Shark, bounced to the right of San Jose netminder Alex Stalock, where Sceviour was waiting to bang it home.
Dallas made it 2-0 before the end of the first period when Benn's pass from the side of the net deflected off of Eaves as he was jockeying for position in the Sharks' crease.
Eaves' goal came on the powerplay, but it wouldn't be the only one that the Stars would score with the man-advantage as Benn would receive a picture-perfect cross-ice pass from Seguin before roofing it home, a 5-on-3 goal at 07:53 of the second.
Joe Thornton would score the Sharks' only goal of the game a few minutes later, but that would be as close as they came. Benn put the finishing touches on things 15:08 into the third on a pretty bang-bang play with Tyler Seguin, and then Ryan Garbutt added a nice backhand
Give the Stars full credit: they played a full, hard 60 minutes tonight, despite learning during the course of the game that they were officially eliminated from the playoffs. You certainly can't say the same for San Jose.
Still...any other win over the Sharks would have tasted much sweeter. For the Stars and their fans tonight, this one was tough to swallow.
Enjoy this win however you can. There'll be lots to talk about in the coming days and weeks.