After coming dangerously close to falling out of the Western Conference playoff picture, the Dallas Stars came through on Wednesday night. And, in their win over the Flames, they proved that they are still growing and taking positive steps forward.
If you weren’t convinced that the Dallas Stars would beat the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night after Jason Spezza scored 41 seconds into the first period, it’s understandable. If you weren’t convinced that they would win after Jamie Benn put the team up 2-1 going into second intermission, it’s understandable.
And, if you still weren’t convinced that they would get the job done when overtime began, it’s understandable. After all, it’s been an odd and somewhat deflating week for the Stars.
The Dallas Stars defeated the Ottawa Senators in a 6-4 offensive onslaught on Black Friday last week. For the Stars, it was a game that fulfilled almost everything that they had been missing.
The Stars had lost two games in a row going into Black Friday, and both had been due to flat performances (2-1 to the New York Rangers and 5-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins). But in the game against Ottawa, the offense was electric, the power play created energy for the team, and the fill-ins did their part to keep the team rolling in the absence of main players.
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But then, they sunk back into the quicksand. Dallas went on the road to face the Colorado Avalanche, blew a lead in the final five minutes of the third period, and flunked yet another back-to-back test.
It continued into Tuesday night when the Stars dug into a three-period standoff with the Edmonton Oilers to start their Western Canada swing. Neither team notched a goal in regulation, though Jamie Benn had a golden chance to end the game as time expired. Even so, it looked as though Dallas had a struggling Oilers team right where they wanted them.
But then, Oscar Klefbom scored on an odd-man rush in overtime and claimed the two points for Edmonton, leaving Dallas with a measly one.
As a result, the Stars entered Wednesday night’s contest in Calgary riding a 1-4-1 skid. They were on the brink of the playoff picture in the West and needed some sort of spark to reenergize themselves.
And midway through the third period against the Flames, it looked like they were setting up for more failure. After entering the final frame with a narrow 2-1 lead, the Stars sacrificed goals to Johnny Gaudreau and Mark Giordano in a span of 1:10. Just like that, Dallas was in a 3-2 hole and looked as though they had no answers left up their sleeve.
But then, an unlikely hero stepped in and saved the day. Gavin Bayreuther sent home a wrist shot from the top of the left circle to tie the game at 3-3 with just under seven minutes to go. Bayreuther, who was called up less than two weeks ago to make his NHL debut, now has two goals and four points on the season. That second goal came at the perfect time.
So, the Stars forced overtime and picked up a point. For a team that was 0-5-0 on the second night of a back-to-back so far in the season, one point looked great. But, after just 24 seconds of overtime action, Tyler Seguin finished the game off with a superb wrist shot from the slot.
The Dallas Stars won 4-3 and pushed themselves into the first wild card spot with a 13-10-3 overall record. This is the kind of win that shows just what is going on in the Dallas Stars organization right now.
Through all of the negativity from the last week and a half where everything seemed to go wrong, the Stars buried it all with a resilient and gritty performance. They dug their heels in and refused to be thrown around by their opponent. They fought back, found some timely goals, got an impressive showing from their top line, ended their power play scoring drought with an impressive goal from the captain, and pulled out a big win in overtime. They broke their back-to-back losing skid and entered a two-day break on a high note.
If that shows anything, it’s that the Dallas Stars are still growing and taking positive steps forward with each passing game.
It’s been a tough year for this Stars team so far. They have yet to play with a fully healthy roster, are still adapting to new coaches and expectations, and are trying to build a winning chemistry that will carry them to the playoffs. The players talk in the locker room about how much untapped potential still lingers and where this team can go; but, so far, the learning process is still in session.
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For Dallas, though, it’s a step-by-step process. As their lineup slowly recovers and gets closer to being fully healthy, the Stars are doing what is needed to stay in the fight. They hit some bumps along the way, including throughout this past week, but are finding ways to rally back.
Digging in is a rare ability that not every team possesses, but the Stars are showing this ability even with a battered lineup.
If the Stars had lost in regulation to the Flames, things would be looking bleak on this Thursday. Dallas would be 12-11-3 and would be sitting outside the playoff picture for the first time in weeks. If they had lost in overtime, things would look a tad bit better, but the lack of winning and breaking skids would still be a serious cause for concern.
But the Dallas Stars found a way to get it done. That’s a big win against a Pacific division opponent that keeps the Stars in the thick of the playoff race. It’s a win that should instill new confidence in the team as November approaches a close.
And it once again begs an answer to the question: just what can this Dallas Stars team accomplish when healthy?