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Game 50 Afterwords: Stars Dominate Buffalo, Barely Hang on to Win

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The Stars had some help tonight, and they needed every last bit of it.

Buffalo Sabres v Dallas Stars Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

It was appropriate that the Stars were told to wait as they left the ice after their win, because Dallas has never really learned how to gain momentum after winning this entire season.

There were three video reviews in this game, and all of them went Dallas’s way. Two of them involved pucks that...well, let’s be honest. They might have gone in. The earlier one certainly was over the line after Kari got up, but whence its path there relative to the whistle? I don’t think even Kari knows for sure.

And Kari needs the break, as both he and Niemi were battling sickness and/or dehydration over the past couple of days, from what Ruff said after the game. Certainly the coaches decided that Niemi was the worse off between the two, prompting the change. These are just descriptions of what happened, which you probably know already.

How many games have the Stars played this season with three righties in on defense? This may only have been the second or third, unless I miss my guess. Putting another puck-mover back there with Hamhuis was very helpful, and the pucks were moving, indeed. Julius Honka is still clearly NHL-quality and then some, and he made the Sabres look like players in the old All-Star Game format with their bad gaps and discombobulation, at times. He is still young. It was great to see him being great.

Special teams are still a mystery. Dallas was gifted a call to end the game that Spezza pretty much created wholecloth, but because Dallas is Dallas is Dallas, you have the GIF up above showing what happened right after it. The Stars have not made things easy on themselves this season.

Jack Eichel didn’t make things easy on Dallas, either. The Stars’ top defense pairing of Lindell and Klingberg (Erin and David are screaming the same things right now) faced the American all night, and Eichel was only just deterred enough to keep the game from getting out of hand. Evander Kane, unfortunately, was less deterred on his early goal. John Klingberg gets beaten up the ice once in a while, but Evander Kane is very good, and that play was very nice.

Still, the Stars’ power play erased their obligatory (really) goal allowed on the PK, and thanks to the Toronto officials choosing not to allow the Sabres’ final goal(s), Patrick Sharp’s pair got Dallas through the evening.

Jason Spezza also brought last year’s game, and he created that last goal by Seguin with some of his patented play tonight. That Spezza has been missing for most of the season (7 goals).

Oh, and when I say “by Seguin,” I really mean “the goal Cody Franson score on his own goaltender after Nilsson made an outstanding save on Tyler Seguin with an outstretched arm.” I don’t think Anders Nilsson will be speaking with Buffalo’s Cody for a little while.

Look, I’m writing this at like 1:40am my time, and we all watched the game. The Stars forced you to keep watching this game long after it ended, thanks to playing the final 20 seconds with the same amount of competence present for much of the third period, when the theretofore dominant Stars team turtled something fierce. Do you just shrug and say, “hey, it worked”? I don’t know. I do think that Lindy Ruff was fully expecting that final review to be called a goal, though. It’s been that kind of year for him, whether partly of his own making or not.

Now, we rest. All of the Stars rest, save Tyler Seguin, who will be forced to fly back to Los Angeles and hang out with all the NHL superstars and I believe the 2016-17 Blackhawks, too. It’s going to be fun.

This game meant less because the Stars won. They’re still close enough to see where they need to be, but Dallas really needs to win 20 of 30 games (or collect 40 points some other way) down the stretch. They could actually do this without ever winning more than two games in a row, and that might be the only way this team can do it.

Dallas is getting help from players that might be more valuable in what they could bring in a trade, and that help might keep them from selling those players. Maybe that’s nice for those players, to not have to work far, far away from their families for the last two months of the year. Maybe it’s nice for fans, to have hope for the playoffs lingering for at least another chunk games. But Dallas is going to need more breaks than they got tonight if they want to make something of this season. They’ll probably have to create their own breaks next time, though. I think Jamie Benn might have been offside, but again, who really knows? It is bedtime for us, for Dallas, and for hockey. We’ll see you in a little while.