For a second it looked as if the Stars would go into a doubleheader with Phoenix still breathing down their necks for the eighth seed. But then Tyler Seguin sank a glove side winner to gain 2 valuable points in the Western Conference wild card race.
Wow. If you didn’t see it, look for a recap on DallasStars.com. If you saw it, you know why I’m still in partial shock.
After Roman Josi managed to get a dribbler 5-hole to cross the red line, many Stars fans got up and turned for the exit not having faith in the 33 year old Vernon Fiddler and beginning to think about Wednesday night’s game against Columbus. In short, he turned a lot of heads. After tripping up on the overused ice near Rinne’s right circle, he found a way to get back up and beat the almost unstoppable Pekka Rinne just inside the right post. After this, Kari put up a cement wall and denied Matt Cullen to which Seguin followed it up with a sniper under Rinne’s ever so tricky glove.
The Stars may not have found a decent way to win this but however ugly it was, it still puts them 2 ahead of Phoenix. But if they even want to think about gaining a bigger lead in tomorrow night’s game against the playoff-hungry Blue Jackets, things MUST change.
Did they win the game? Yes. Did they win the game in a sufficient way? Not in the slightest. And with a back to back coming up, many fans are covering their eyes in fear. The Stars need to change that if they want to stand a chance against Columbus and here is how:
PLAY the full 60 minutes
For the first 20 minutes of the game, it looked as if there would be a repeat of the 7-3 beat down 2 weeks ago. Until the second period started and they started to skate like they didn’t know what sick sport they had gotten themselves into. They spent a good majority of the second and almost all of the third clearing pucks down the ice for the inevitable icing penalty or trying to dump and chase. This gave Nashville, a team at the time still fighting for a slight glimpse of eighth place, the confidence to take over and they capitalized early in the second. Well this goal seemed to cause a chain reaction and alerted the Stars that “oh right, there’s still 30 minutes left to play and our playoff spot isn’t secure.” Due to this, the 19 year old ‘Big Russia’ Val Nichushkin set up a perfect pass to a streaking duo of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin (the one nightmare of all goalies nowadays) and Benn buried it far side. And again the pendulum swings and Nashville livens up while Dallas falls back asleep. The defense failed Lehtonen halfway through the third by giving up a behind the net pass for an easy one timer that Bourque cashed in on for his second of the night. To top it all off Dallas failed to convert a 5 on 3 power play that lasted a minute and a half (can we start declining penalties like they do in football?). So on went 14 minutes or so of nothing but NSH domination and Kari returning the favor until old man Fidds and pretty boy Seguin were able to cap off a long night.
This will not work against Columbus. This team is truly fighting for a playoff spot and after tonight’s OT win against PHX (many thanks from Stars fans everywhere by the way) they will be looking to cap off a successful doubleheader as will the Stars. They are a much better offensive power than Nashville, but defense is where they lack. If the Stars can come out as the less weary team considering both teams played extra minutes tonight but the Stars will not have to deal with the jetlag, they might be able to pull off another 2 pointer and send PHX down an even darker path. If they can contain their offense and make good plays in the attacking zone, tomorrow should be a breeze. If not, tomorrow will be pretty Ruff (see what I did there?). The defense played truly exceptional tonight, particularly highlighting Trevor Daley who took away the puck from a breaking Viktor Stalberg about 5 feet from Kari’s crease, and Jordie Benn who made more blocks and recoveries in the defensive zone tonight than you can count on two hands. So come out strong and take plenty of shots which are bound to fall in after a while and repeat the defensive play that we saw tonight. Also, I don’t know how well Kari will be able to stand 11 straight games, but in crunch time we need him and he hasn’t let us down yet.
This win truly boosted the Stars playoff hopes, maybe more than any other win this season has. PHX pulled into a tie with us around 8:45 P.M. but the Stars are back to a 2 pt lead on the Coyotes with the same number of games remaining at 3 including a possible postseason wager against the Coyotes on Sunday. Nevertheless, their chances have greatly increased and so have the spirits of the fans. If they can pull out a win against the Jackets tomorrow, we might as well start buying rally towels barring any crazy collapses. They truly have the better hand than PHX at the moment, now all that matters is how they play the cards.
So the city of Dallas can rest easy tonight knowing that their team holds the lead. And if they can follow these steps for tomorrow night’s game, well I might just be able to keep writing these things. So take a load off Stars. You’ve earned it. Let’s hope we can say the same thing tomorrow night. Goodnight and Go Stars