If a shotless first five-plus minutes of the Dallas Stars and Florida Panthers hockey game forced you to turn the channel or call up Criminal Minds on Netflix early tonight, you missed one wild third period.
There wasn’t much to write home about for much of the first 20 minutes. For the Stars, they looked like a team that had played a game between these two teams’ last meeting on Saturday in a matinee showcase in Dallas. The Panthers had a slow start. It led to a very snooze-inducing beginning to what is yet another key game for the Stars if they want to climb into the playoff picture.
After Florida negated their own power play chance, Aleksander Barkov (the only Panther guaranteed to score against Dallas, seemingly, every game) put his team on the board first in the dying seconds of the 4-on-4 play. Dallas first, albeit short-lived, power play expired shortly after. But less than a minute after going down 1-0, the Stars tied it right up. Jason Robertson scored his 12th goal of the season, continuing his hot scoring pace since March 1st of nearly a point per game.
Dallas would get better in the second period, limiting the Panthers to just five shots on goal. Unfortunately, they’d come out of it losing 2-1 thanks to a Radko Gudas shot that hit Rhett Gardner’s stick and snuck into the net bar down over Anton Khudobin’s frame.
In the third period, more of that kind of luck continued — which seems to be plaguing the Stars this year, both deserved and otherwise. They had a flurry of chances that Chris Driedger turned aside. They hit the post. Then Joe Pavelski ended his 10-game goal-less streak off a deft drive-by to tie the game up.
Seems like the beginnings of a much happier ending than they got.
Driedger reached his stick out and by the barest of margins yanked a game-winning goal out of the Stars grasp just minutes after Pavelski’s goal. “We’ve got to start putting them in to win,” Jason Dickinson said after the game.
The Stars were able to once again take a game past regulation so that they earned at least a point. But like usual, they find another way to lose out on collecting the extra point from their opponent. This time, it was courtesy of a Jamie Benn tripping penalty. To be fair, Anthony Duclair could have easily sprinted into the offensive zone had he gotten past Benn with some tired Stars players on the ice during the three-on-three time. No real way to know whether they would have scored then to end it or if the Stars would have survived the rush.
Either way, they went on the penalty kill. Khudobin stood tall for most of it, and made some key saves. They were six seconds away from killing it off and getting Benn out of the box. Instead, Frank Vatrano shot the puck in past a screened Khudobin to end it before reaching the shootout.
An eternal mood for the Dallas Stars in this 2021 season: