Jamie Benn's Three-Point Night Powers Dallas Stars Past Buffalo Sabres
Don't stick a fork in them just yet. They've now winners of 8 of their last 10.
And so the Dallas Stars keep their slim hopes, and ours, alive for another 48 hours- And just as importantly, they avoid joining the San Jose Sharks as the only NHL team to not defeat the Buffalo Sabres this season.
That appeared to be their fate upon each of Buffalo's three leads in the game, none more crushing than the straight-up-into-the-air bounce on the third that seemed so emblematic of the season at large.
Luckily the Stars have Jamie Benn, and no longer have Anders Lindback.
The latter appeared to be once again harming the Stars' playoff chances, though in a different uniform this time, as he stymied Dallas with maddening regularity through the game's first 40 minutes, but the captain had other designs.
His second goal of the game on the power play to open the third period appeared to be a bit of a whiff, but it paralyzed Lindback who kicked when he should have stayed put and the puck glanced off the inside of his right skate and in.
Matt Moulson's tap-in on the aforementioned magic-rainbow puck gave the famed Star-killer his second point of the night and looked like the end for Dallas, but Jamie Benn answered the call once more with a brilliant feed to Tyler Seguin whose shot glanced off Patrick Eaves and past a confounded Lindback to tie the game a third time.
Seguin and Benn finally got some help on the game winner when a pretty passing play initiated by Ales Hemsky, turned into a brilliant feed from John Klingberg to the stick of Cody Eakin and a 4-3 lead.
Buffalo captain Brian Gionta made his presence felt throughout- Not to mention his two goals, but his performance was outshone by that of the other guy with the 'C', whose physicality was almost the equal of his offensive output tonight.
With a three point night Benn moves to 70 on the season, just four behind NHL-leading Sidney Crosby at 74 with nine games to play.
It's a good win for Dallas as they've had trouble with teams who strike a similar defensive posture. The Sabres will drop four and make you go through them, and counter-punch when appropriate. The Stars would rather run and gun and look more comfortable in a game that's a little more wide open, but managed to remain patient this evening despite three deficits.
Plus, you know, it's Buffalo.
Oh and we see you, guys behind the bench with the "NO" and "GOAL" t-shirts on.
And we still don't care.
As this one wound down the San Jose Sharks were being euthanized and eulogized on Twitter after losing to the Ottawa Senators. 73 games played for San Jose and 78 points- The same total the Stars would have had in a loss this evening, so it looks like they escape similar "fork-sticking" for the time being, though the Sharks will get that attention because it will probably be their 2nd playoff miss in 18 seasons.
(And isn't that a nice parting gift no matter how this turns out for Dallas).
The Stars now have an interesting stretch headed into hostile territory north of the border where they finally get a chance to directly alter their fate by adding to their point total and limiting someone else with whom they hope to be in direct competition- Which is to say that two of their next four are against the Calgary Flames.
And let's not beat around the bush- They probably need the two between (@Edmonton, @Vancouver) for any of it to mean anything, but for another couple of days there's plenty about which to daydream as a fun little run, the kind for which they've searched all year, continues.