In the end, it just wasn't meant to be this year.
The Dallas Stars' season came to a disappointing end on Wednesday night with a 6-1 loss at the hands of the St. Louis Blues.
Robby Fabbri scored twice, while Paul Stastny, Patrik Berglund, David Backes and Vladimir Tarasenko also tallied for the Blues. Brian Elliott continued his strong postseason, making 31 saves.
Patrick Eaves scored the lone Dallas goal, but it came in the third period when the team was already down 5-0, and by then it was simply too little, too late. The Stars just didn't have one last epic comeback left in them.
Kari Lehtonen got the start in net for Dallas but didn't get the finish. He was pulled during the first intermission after allowing three goals on just eight shots, as well as one more that was eventually called back on a coach's challenge. Antti Niemi stopped eight out of 10 in relief. The final St. Louis goal went in to an empty net.
The Blues, a battle-hardened squad and one of the best teams in the NHL this season, played exactly the game that they wanted to tonight, going into an opposing arena, sucking the energy out of the crowd early and successfully defending the lead right to the very end. They deserve full credit for their efforts, both in the game tonight and the series as a whole.
For the Stars: heartbreak.
Momentum can be a cruel things sometimes. The Blues gained a 2-0 lead 18:22 into the first period. A blink of an eye later it was 3-0. It felt like no time at all had passed when they made it 4-0. Once the play on the ice slipped through the Stars' fingers there was little that they could do to catch it before it hit the ground. It was a tragic turn of events that was not indicative at all of the team that finished 1st in the Western Conference this regular season and fought like hell to get to this Game 7 in the first place. A couple of different bounces here or there early on and we could be telling an entirely different story right now. They deserved a better fate, but sometimes, that's just life.
As tough as a way to go out as this is, the Stars should nevertheless hold their heads high. To go from missing the playoffs last season to getting here tonight is a massive undertaking. This team achieved so, so much this season, and no single loss, regardless of the final score, can negate that.
And to you, Stars fans and DBD family old and new, thank you. Thank you for being here and watching this wild, crazy ride with us. There will be lots to talk about in the coming weeks. We'll see you soon.