It was like the stars aligned and everything was working last night, because throughout the game everything seemingly went the Stars way when they needed it to. The Dallas Stars finally held off the Anaheim Ducks after losing late leads to them multiple times this season, and kept their bleak playoff hopes alive with a 4-3 win. The Ducks could have clinched a playoff spot for themselves and the Kings with a regulation win, but the Stars ruined those plans and helped keep their shot of making it alive. The Stars got calls their way, some of those bounces and breaks that seem to be avoiding them lately, and even a fluke goal allowed by Ray Emery in the first.
After yet again falling behind early in a game, I admit I was starting to think those “here we go again” thoughts. But then the first of the Stars breaks happened. Jeff Woywitka just skated into the offensive zone while the Stars were changing lines just shortly after going down 1-0, and all by himself the whipping boy of Stars fans recently just flicked a wristshot on at the net. Emery could not find the simple shot from the blue line, and somehow let it get past him. So after giving up an early goal, Dallas was given the goal right back very easily by the Ducks. From that point on it became the Brenden Morrow and Mike Ribeiro show.
The teams traded goals late by Ribs from Morrow and then Visnovsky for the Ducks to make the score 2-2 heading into the 2nd period. In the second the Stars dominated the play and control of the puck, in large part to their special teams. Dallas had to kill a Ducks 5-on-3 PP early in the period, but after doing so saw the Ducks commit four penalties in the period. While the Stars would of loved to have popped in another goal or two with all of the chances, they did get one even strength blast from Morrow and then a rebound goal on the PP by Ribeiro to build up a 4-2 lead. But in typical Stars fashion they could not just win the game easily at all. They gave a short-handed goal to Corey Perry (who has been lighting up lamps constantly this season), and after all of their control and better play they only took a one goal lead into the final frame.
In that final frame Stars fans watched in horror as yet again they tried to hold a late lead against this team and were letting the Ducks control play late in the game. And twice it looked like the Ducks had again tied a game up late, yet again things went the Stars way at first glance as they were both called off. Kari Lehtonen was interfered with first and a goal was called off, and then with under a minute to go in the game another goal was called off because it was a hand-pass. The Ducks and their fans were livid over both calls, but after looking over the replay of both plays multiple times you can see that both times the refs made the right calls. And with the slimmest of margins and luck finally ending up on their side, Dallas finally beat the Anaheim in a close game.
So now the next few games will be very interesting in the Western Conference. The Stars win held off multiple teams from clinching and the Chicago Blackhawks lost Sunday to just keep that door open for Dallas. Now the Stars sit three points behind the 8th seed Blackhawks with both teams having four games left in the next week. Both teams play next Tuesday with the Stars coming home to host the Blue Jackets and Chicago playing at Montreal. A Stars win combined with another Blackhawks loss would put bring the gap to just one point with anything being possible over the final three games. The Ducks are basically uncatchable at this point because they own the tiebreakers with the Stars along with their four point gap, but Dallas trails them while having one more game to play then the Ducks. So winning out the schedule and Anaheim getting only two points out of their final six would let the Stars jump them. The chances of making it are still not night and they need help from other teams losing games, but the Stars are still alive and still have that chance. Right now we can just hold onto that and pray they win their next two games at home.