Through 39 minutes on Tuesday’s game, all hope seemed to be lost for the 2019-20 Dallas Stars season. But in a matter of moments, key momentum swings, and six unanswered goals, the Stars revived the hype surrounding the team and reminded everyone of just how dangerous they can be.
It’s not often that a hockey team can hit both their lowest and highest points of the season in the same game. And yet, the Dallas Stars did just that on Tuesday night.
As the Stars approached the final chapter of a four-game homestand, there was once again plenty on the line. They had won three consecutive games in the week prior after suffering an 0-4-1 skid, but had dropped a deflating 3-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.
The loss left them at 4-8-1 in the early portion of the 2019-20 season. It was a far cry from where the team was expected to be through 13 games and had left the Stars in a spiral of confusion and inefficiency.
More from Editorials
- Dallas Stars hockey is about to be the main attraction in Dallas this year
- Age Before Beauty: The impact of Benn’s new role on his Dallas legacy
- Dallas Stars hockey is the light at the end of the tunnel
- Dallas Stars coverage is lacking and it’s very concerning to be honest
- Sit back, relax and watch Jim Nill and the Dallas Stars draft scouts cook
Fortunately, Tuesday evening presented them with an opportunity. A struggling Minnesota Wild team paid a visit to the American Airlines Center to help the Stars close out their homestand. It was a chance to gain ground in a Central Division matchup, finish the homestand with six of a possible eight points, and get one step closer to a .500 record with November approaching.
But through the first 39 minutes of the game, there wasn’t much of anything to build on. Jason Zucker scored 2:50 into the first period on the Wild’s first shot of the game after three Stars defenders got caught behind the net. Eric Staal tacked on a power-play goal just before the end of the first while the Dallas power play went 0/2. Through 20 minutes, the Wild looked like the better team and had a 2-0 lead while fans at the AAC escorted their team off the ice to a chorus of boos.
At that moment, the Stars hit their lowest spot of the 2019-20 season in a 3-0 hole on home ice against a struggling opponent. They were being outplayed considerably, hadn’t scored a goal in almost seven full periods of play, and were in danger of falling five games below .500.
Things looked bleak for the organization, and dreams of significant change within the organization once again became prevalent across the Twitterverse.
But then, something clicked. What was it that clicked? That’s anyone’s guess. What we do know, though, is that it clicked for the first time this season and ultimately helped the Dallas Stars shift into high gear.
From there, it was all Dallas in the final 21 minutes. Alexander Radulov scored his second goal of the season with 47 seconds remaining in the second and helped provide the team with a pulse as they entered the locker room.
That goal ended up turning the tide entirely in the Stars’ favor.
“That was everything,” Stars coach Jim Montgomery said. “We felt we needed to have one there because if you go to the intermission, it’s a lot of time where you’re down 3-0. But down 3-1, you just scored a goal and there’s a big difference mentally.”
When the third period began, the Dallas Stars came out with a purpose that they hadn’t yet shown through the first month of the season. The fact that they hadn’t accessed it yet made it all the more surprising to observe.
Roope Hintz scored a power-play goal to break another long scoring drought on the man advantage and boost the Stars back above 10 percent on the year. Joe Pavelski sent a puck off of a Wild defenseman in front of the net a few minutes later to tie the game at 3-3. Radulov cashed in less than two minutes after that to push Dallas out in front with a 4-3 advantage. Then Tyler Seguin scored. And finally, Radulov buried his third goal of the game into an empty net to complete the comeback at 6-3.
“Desire, passion, anger, everything,” Seguin said about what changed in the game. “I don’t think we were playing that bad of a game. Just saw the same story happening again. I think there was a switch that clicked in the second – maybe halfway through. Not many battles we lost from five minutes left in the second [period] to the end of third [period]. A lot of discussion internally the last couple of days and you saw the result of it out there tonight.”
“Feels good to win the hockey game,” Radulov added. “Yeah, it’s good. But like I said before, it doesn’t matter who, how – we need the points right now, it’s huge. We were down 3-0 and we did a hell of a comeback and everybody played 60 minutes till the end. It’s good that those bounces go our way, finally.”
For the first time in the early going of this 2019-20 campaign, the Dallas Stars looked as they were expected to look: dominating puck possession, generating scoring chances with their stock of talented forwards, and playing with a relentless attitude. And though it really only clicked together in the final 21 minutes, it was enough to get the job done.
And though it’s folly to play the “what if” game after the final result is determined, let’s take a spin. What if the Stars had lost 3-0 in front of their home crowd to a Wild team that was sitting at 4-7-0? What would be the reaction to a 4-9-1 start to the year and a .500 homestand that led them into a difficult November slate?
It’s no secret that when things consistently go wrong in sports, change is usually the first adopted solution. If a team falls well short of expectations on a regular basis or cannot turn out a reliable product, the need for change seemingly becomes imminent.
More from Blackout Dallas
- Dallas Stars Traverse City Tournament: Who had great performances?
- Grushnikov and Stankoven lead Dallas Stars to 6-3 win over Columbus
- Dallas Stars prospects look to wrap up tournament with a win
- Burn the tapes: Dallas Stars prospects lose 5-1 to Toronto Maple Leafs
- Dallas Stars look to continue success today against the Maple Leafs
Fortunately for the Stars, they avoided that possibility thanks to a Radulov hat trick, an 18-6 shots on goal advantage in the third, and a big step up from the big names on the roster.
“That was just the players taking over,” Montgomery said. “Them asserting themselves and wanting to change the course of the game.”
It wasn’t perfect, but it got the job done. And now, the Stars are sitting in a better spot (for the time being). Their next task, however, revolves around using this character-building win as momentum while also finding a way to stretch their 21 minutes of effort into 60-minute chunks.
“Today, we’ve just got to regroup and we’re playing one of the best teams in Colorado in their building next one,” Radulov said. “We need the points – we know that we just have to carry that momentum from this game to the next one and work hard like we did in the third and at the end of the second for each other.”
For the first time in a long time, the Dallas Stars took on adversity and battled it back. They bent and stretched through the first 40 minutes, but didn’t break ahead of the final period.
All of the off-ice meetings, line juggling, lack of offensive success, discontent of fans, and overall confusion was absolved in the final 20 minutes of Tuesday’s game. The Stars put on a furious comeback, pummeled the Wild into submission, and looked good while doing it. They showed just how dangerous of a team they can be when everything clicks and avoided any further mayhem or turmoil for the time being. That’s important.
"“We saw our first paper bag head out there in warmups and boo birds after the first, so that’s frustrating and I guess we deserved it. Like I said, we stuck together as a group in here. Players and coaches, from top to bottom, went out there in the third period with a good mindset of just working hard. We got some bounces from it and good things happened. It was nice to get the fans back on our side, that felt pretty good.” –Stars captain Jamie Benn"
There’s a reason to believe that the win against the Wild can reignite the promise that this season held back on Oct. 3. There’s a reason to believe that this team can still dominate opponents and make their case known in the NHL standings. And there’s still a reason to believe that the best is yet to come, even with the bumpy beginning to the year. That’s all thanks to 21 minutes of effort, focus, energy, and pure determination.
The Stars will be back in action on Friday against a good Colorado Avalanche team before flying back home for a Saturday matchup with the Montreal Canadiens. They will then close out a brief homestand on Tuesday against the Avalanche before heading out on a week-long road trip through Canada. It’s not an easy stretch, but it’s manageable with the right mindset.
The Dallas Stars had that right mindset on Tuesday, and it paid off in a big and potentially season-altering way.
The next step is building off of it.