The Dallas Stars will not carry a four-game losing streak into this weekend's All-Star break thanks to a mammoth second period, and not much else tonight against the visiting Buffalo Sabres in a 4-3 win.
The big guns made an appearance tonight in a truly dominant frame as Jamie Benn, Patrick Sharp and Tyler Seguin tallied to put the Stars up 4-2 with under five to play in the period- Seemingly allowing for some kind of cruise control the rest of the way.
After all, at that point the Stars had attempted four MORE shots than had the Sabres (60-20 at th time of the Seguin goal). But that two goal lead is the most dangerous in hockey, as we say (for whatever reason) and the Stars nothing if not masters of putting on an entertaining show. So there was a comeback.
Evander Kane scored late in the third to set up the dramatic final act, and the Stars went through most of the period with a single shot up on the board in the frame after eclipsing 25 just halfway through it on a 50-shot pace.
Dallas played not to lose in the third- And they didn't. Kari Lehtonen was good. The officials helped out. Esa Lindell helped out. The officials helped out again, perhaps, with a penalty call on Buffalo at the end.
A mess, after such mastery in the second- And really the first as well. Say what you will about Kane scoring on the second shot of Niemi's night, and Eichel's speed creating a power play and a second goal just minutes after- But the Stars had the puck for most of the period.
It was that darn third period that lingers like a bad taste in our mouths after that one-
How was this not a goal? In one of the longer reviews we've seen and all its Enya-based comedy on Twitter, the puck, certainly seemed to be in the net. He pretty much kicked it out of the net.
What the officials were certainly unable to determine was when exactly the puck got in there, and there wasn't conclusive evidence of that. It's probably the right thing to do. It's also a lucky break for the Stars, who got a lucky break earlier in the game in a goal review where Jamie Benn was probably technically offside, but it was inconclusive.
The Stars were fortunate on this as well-
After not covering a man on Buffalo's third goal and tipping it past Kari Lehtonen, Lindell made good here and helped keep it out.
They also got lucky on Tyler Seguin's goal- Which Tyler Segiun didn't score so much as a Buffalo defender slammed it home for him. Watching Seguin on the edge of a Buffalo crease kick the puck to his forehand and shoot it was nostalgic, wasn't it? So at least there was that.
You could make the argument that the Stars earned that bounce with that spectacular 30-minute stretch or so extendig back into the first. They also hit three posts in the game.
The hockey gods came down on the right side tonight. If only just. Three goal reviews- Imagine being a Buffalo fan on the other side of the coin. The zebras did the right thing, but that game could have easily been 6-4 Buffalo.
It's a full two points, though! It's also still yet another game where a Stars netminder gets pulled. Lehtonen was brilliant in relief of Niemi, again, I would say. The poor starts, however, would be better left in January as they move forward.
Time to rest up now and figure out a path to a wildcard spot. Or spend four days practicing penalty killing. Yeah, that sounds good.