It wasn’t an ideal Saturday afternoon for the Dallas Stars as they lost 5-4 to the Nashville Predators in overtime. But, considering the circumstances, it’s a point well-earned and keeps the door to success wide open for the team.
If you want to blame the Dallas Stars’ skeleton crew defense, you can. If you want to blame the bad penalties, go ahead. And if you want to blame the catfish that was tossed onto the ice by a Predators fan at the beginning of the third period, more power to you.
Whatever you want to single out as the primary factor in the Stars’ overtime loss to Nashville on Saturday afternoon is up to you. Sure, there were things they could have done better and there were many chances for them to secure a win if they just did certain things right.
But this story is not meant to recap the game nor is it a sob story about the team coming up short. This story has to do with the impressive feat that the Dallas Stars achieved at American Airlines Center on Saturday.
The Stars picked up a point against the best team in the Western Conference. And though it could have been two, getting one under the circumstances is huge.
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Dallas entered Saturday’s game with a tough test at hand and little to go off of.
As you scanned the Stars lineup, a handful of names stuck out. But these names didn’t stick out because of recent strong performances or because of their superstar-caliber skills; they stuck out because they were unrecognized names.
These players were brought in by Dallas to fill voids and hopefully counteract a battered lineup situation.
On defense, John Klingberg, Roman Polak, and Marc Methot were inactive for Saturday’s game. Add those names to Stephen Johns and Connor Carrick (who are already on injured reserve) and you have 4-5 of the team’s six regular starters on the blue line. On offense, Alexander Radulov, a typical centerpiece and catalyst for the Stars’ forward corps, missed another game with an injury. His spot was once again filled by rookie Denis Gurianov.
These circumstances are unheard of in the NHL. As a result, the Dallas Stars fronted an offense lacking one of its most talented scorers and a defense missing just about every one of its main pieces. And they just so happened to try it out for the first time against the best team in the Western Conference.
Now, they didn’t plan for it to happen this way. Things just kind of deteriorated and molded into the current situation.
So, as the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators dropped the puck at the AAC on a chilly Saturday afternoon, hopes were not substantially high.
Tyler Pitlick changed that outlook midway through the period with a goal to open the scoring and give Dallas a lead that lasted to first intermission. Nashville answered early in the second, but the Stars were quick to swing back, getting goals from their big guns in Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza. And even after the Predators once again clawed their way back to a tie, it was the new guys that took over when Gurianov deflected a shot from Gleason into the back of the net.
It looked to be a storybook ending in the making until Roman Josi scored a power play goal with 42.5 seconds remaining. It was a power play that the Predators never really should have had, but that’s the way the game goes sometimes.
But even after the deflating goal, none of the newfound hope had been lost. Dallas entered the overtime period on the power play and put together five scoring chances. None of them found the back of the net, the Predators got back to even strength, and Mattias Ekholm finished it a few seconds later.
Ouch, right? Well, not necessarily.
While the loss hurts for all Stars fans who know it very well could and should have been a two-point game, it’s not a backbreaker.
In Saturday’s contest, the Dallas Stars learned that even in major setback situations, they can still be a competitive team.
Their lineup was finalized just minutes before puck drop, but it didn’t matter. Five of their six defensemen had a combined 119 games of NHL experience going into the contest. And while they were a little rough around the edges at times (Nashville had 14 shots in the first period), they did what was needed. To top it all off, the Stars were missing some of the top players in their organization. That’s never an easy void to fill, especially when a team looks to their farm system to help. But somehow, Dallas made it work.
Editor In Leaf
The Dallas Stars are 9-6-2 on the season with 20 points. The overtime loss pushed them into third place in the Central division. They are 4-1-2 in their past seven games, with their situation seemingly becoming all the more difficult with each passing contest.
Saturday’s contest pinned a scattered and unsynchronized Stars lineup against a Stanley Cup contender. And somehow, the ragtag Stars found a way to grind a point out of it.
Now, this specific situation should be a one-time thing. With Dallas only playing two games over the next six days, there should be plenty of time to heal and readjust. Methot and Polak could be ready for Monday night’s tilt against Columbus. There’s also no definitive timetable on Radulov, Johns, or Brett Ritchie. Simply put: the road should get easier for the Stars in terms of lineup fluidity as the next few days roll on.
But for Saturday’s game, the Dallas Stars did what they had to do and survived. The regulars picked up the pace, the fringe starters contributed in various areas, and the new guys did their job.
There’s a good chance you won’t see Gleason or Hanley in the Dallas Stars starting lineup next weekend, and that’s okay. They threw their hat (or, rather, had it thrown) into the ring and met the challenge head-on. That’s an incredibly tough thing to do when running against the best team in the division.
And yet, somehow, the Stars made it work.
“That’s one of the best teams in the league. We played with them and should have won tonight,” Jason Spezza told Mike Heika of DallasStars.com following the game. “That should springboard us knowing with the injuries we have we can still compete every night and be good.”
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This determination and resiliency that the Stars are showing when faced with crisis is important. It’s something that they haven’t boasted in years past and could be a critical trait to have down the stretch.
The Stars were dealt a serious test on Saturday. And though they didn’t get the perfect score, they found a way to dig up an A and leave the door open for more success.
And if you can do that when the circumstances are borderline unbelievable, you just might have something special brewing.