"The message is clean up some of the mistakes and play with the energy we played with," Dallas Stars head coach told media Saturday after his team lost a late-third period lead that would have led to handshakes at the AAC in game 5.
The message is a good one. The Stars dominated the Wild Friday. They had the puck more often than not. They were disciplined, allowing Minnesota no opportunities on the power play. They battled back from an early 2-0 deficit to take a lead.
The energy they played with, as Ruff said, was tremendous.
The mistakes, however, were too big to overcome. Alex Goligoski's turnover to start the game and his marking of Koivu to end it were glaring. The lost coverage on the Niederreiter goal 50 seconds after the Stars tied the game at two- Inexcusable.
And when the Wild score five goals on 24 shots, including three tallies on their last six to Dallas' four goals in 41 shots, there are questions that get asked about disparity in goaltending.
Momentarily lapses during a performance to be proud of otherwise- But enough to force them back up to Minnesota for a game six. That much closer to being pushed to a winner-take-all game seven.
"We didn't give up a lot, really only gave up that last, the one coverage play and we end up letting them tie the game," Ruff added. "But when we chase the game, we made the mistakes early. We got to clean up those early mistakes and go from there."
There's two men in every hockey game who are the last line of defense in cleaning up mistakes, unless it was their own. The guy in white and Victory green this afternoon will attempt to do so- Speculation on who it will be is valid for the 88th time this year.
"We'll just evaluate and move on," Ruff said of the situation in net. "We'll just keep doing what we've done all year. We're up 3-2, and they've both won us games in the playoffs."
The easy money, of course, is on Kari Lehtonen to come back in. Lehtonen won both games in Dallas before dropping his playoff debut in Minnesota. He'll have to face down a screaming horde urging their unlikely heroes on to a game seven this evening.
Dallas managed a split on the road in games three and four but were out-possessed in both games by totals of 54-47 and 56-51. Those numbers are far, far cries from the 93 shot attempts the Stars put toward the Wild net in looking much more like their normal selves.
Tyler Seguin and his nebulous lower body injury did not make the trip, of course. Ales Hemsky took a maintenance day Saturday.
"We're confident with the way we've played on the road," Ruff said of game 6. "They're going to get some opportunities. They're a good enough team they're going to get some. We're going to get some too and it's who executes and who defends at the right time."
The St. Louis Blues were pushed to a game seven last night. The Stars can earn a couple of extra days rest by doing themselves a favor this afternoon.
The ice cream headache continues this afternoon on national television- NBC @ 2:00pm CDT. Hold on to your butts.
From Stars PR:
WILD 'N OUT
The Dallas Stars lost to the Minnesota Wild, 5-4, in overtime on Friday night in Game 5 of the First Round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Dallas fell behind by two goals early in the first period but recaptured the lead in the third period, with goals from Jamie Benn (1-0=1), Jason Spezza (1-0=1) and Alex Goligoski (1-0=1). Wild captain Mikko Koivu tied the game at 4-4 with less than four minutes remaining in the third period and scored the game-winning goal at the 4:55 mark in overtime to send the series back to Minnesota for Game 6. Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk stopped 37-of-41 shots faced for his second win of the postseason. Stars goaltender Antti Niemi recorded his first loss of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, stopping 19-of-24 shots on the evening.
OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN
Stars captain Jamie Benn registered a goal (1-0=1) in Game 5 against the Wild on Friday night and has points in five consecutive postseason games (3-4=7). The captain now has points in ten of 11 career playoff contests, tallying 12 career points (7-5=12) in the postseason. With an assist (0-1=1) in Game 4, he became the first player in franchise history to register at least one point in nine of his first 10 career playoff games (6-5=11). Benn shares fourth in the NHL with seven points (3-4=7) during the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs and is tied for fourth with three goals. In Game 1, he recorded a postseason career-high of three points (1-2=3), marking his first career multi-point playoff game. The native of Victoria, B.C. finished the 2015-16 season with a career-high 89 points (41-48=89), including a career-high 41 goals and appearing in all 82 games. Benn ranked second in the league in points (89) and third in goals (41), recording the second-most goals in a single season since the team moved to Dallas, while matching the 11th-most in franchise history.
HE'S A SPEZZ-CIAL PLAYER
Forward Jason Spezza tallied a goal (1-0=1) on Friday night against Minnesota and now has points in two-straight postseason games (2-1=3). In Game 4 on Wednesday night, Spezza tallied two points (1-1=2) for his second multi-point game of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs and the 17th multi-point outing of his NHL postseason career. The forward has recorded 57 points (20-37=57) over 61 Stanley Cup Playoff games in his career and currently shares 15th among all skaters in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs with five points (3-2=5). During the 2015-16 season, Spezza finished tied for 10th in the NHL and tied for second on the Stars with 33 goals. His 33 goals marked his fifth career 30+ goal season and the first time in his 13-year career where he finished a season with more goals than assists. The native of Toronto, Ont. ranked third on the squad with 63 points (33-30=33) in 75 games and tallied a career-high seven game-winning goals this season, ranking first on the club and sharing 11th in the NHL. Spezza finished with 20 points (14-6=20) over his last 20 regular-season games, including points in five of his last six games (4-4=8).