They did it for Dave.
Antoine Roussel recorded his first career hat-trick, the first by a Dallas Star this season, and Jamie Benn added the game winner in the late stages of overtime Saturday night as the Stars took down the Tampa Bay Lightning by a score of 4-3.
Television and radio play-by-play man Dave Strader returned to the booth with Razor this evening for the first time this season as he battles cancer- And the guys gutted one out for him on an emotional night at the AAC.
Stars fans, Stars players, broadcasters, and media alike all needed a little bit of a warm hockey hug this evening after a rough stretch of season that’s buried the team as far as the playoff race goes. Tonight was just that and more. A nice note on which to head in to the “bye week.”
It didn’t look like that was really on the menu early on, though, did it? Two goals for the Lightning had the Stars down 2-0 twelve minutes into the first period- The second coming just seconds after a touching ovation for Strader coming out of the first commercial break.
But there was one man who was not going to let this one get away. Antoine Roussel’s deflection of a Hamhuis centering pass moments later was nothing short of brilliant, and a brilliant passing play exactly six minutes later culminated in another beauty of a tip by the Frenchman.
Then hat trick watch was on.
The Stars, however, seemed to be “Starsing” pretty hard when the Lightning scored their second power play goal of the night in the dying stages of the second period, and that looked like church. Dallas had not won a game when trailing after two periods this year.
The Rooster would puncture Vasilevskiy a third time, wristing home the trick in the slot thanks to a feed from Tyler Seguin- And then he would call for, nay, demand your hats.
And everything was fun again.
(Tampa Bay was dominating the third period and the Stars couldn’t stop giving them odd-man rushes. It was very bad. Kari Lehtonen was very good, and very lucky. But since we’re having fun here tonight we won’t focus on that too much. Who cares.)
You know what’s not fun, though? Overtime. Not for these Dallas Stars this year, and the extra frame started off like the game did- With Tampa dominating and in imminent apparent danger of ending things quickly for quite a long time.
They survived, and they persisted, and they made some pretty sloppy changes- And then Cody Eakin did something very wise. Very wise indeed. He gave the puck up to Jamie Benn rather than try to force it over to Klingberg or throw it into traffic.
The captain made them pay from a pretty good distance, and the natives rejoiced, and Dave Strader remained remarkably professional while many of those witnessing the team’s solute seemed to have a little dust in their eye, or you know, some gook in there or something.
A special moment, on a special night. Hockey is fun, but sometimes life’s heavier subject matter creeps into what is an escape for the most part, and gives us a little context. Dave’s fight is not over, and we don’t know how much work he’ll be able to do, but boy he sounded great tonight.
Congrats to him and his family for persevering and for getting to this point.
And as Razor said, “Doff your chapeaus!”
(And pray for Adam Cracknell’s ankle because that looked horrible. Update - 3 to 6 weeks on Cracknell according to Ruff)