Falling Just Short
The Dallas Stars had a chance. But they failed.
Every single one of those Stars were assuredly glued to their locker room TV watching the Chicago Blackhawks duke it out with the Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings pulled out a 4-3 victory and it opened the door for the Stars to make their unprecedented move to usurp the defending Stanley Cup Champions. And what looked even more promising, the game was against the Minnesota Wild.
It was a team that had nothing to play for except for pride. And the Stars had already won all three meetings that year. Things were looking more than good for Big D. It was time to take what was right in front of them.
They didn't. In fact, they fell flat.
The Stars did not tighten up when they didn't have to put out a supreme defensive effort. The Stars defense looked terrible to start the game when Matt Cullen picked up a huge rebound against a swimming Kari Lehtonen and failed to convert. Not long after, it was tough guy Brad Staubitz who picked up a rebound off of Lehtonen and banged it home to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead.
The Stars got a kick of momentum from some good shifts and started a 2-on-1 break. Brad Richards picked up the late man on the rush who delivered a delicious return pass to him for a one-time blast that beat goaltender Jose Theodore to tie it up. The Stars then picked up a powerplay at the end of the period and two-way forward extraordinaire Loui Eriksson sniped short side to give the Stars a 2-1 lead to end the period.
It was looking up.
But the Stars lagged out of the gate and for most of the second period and were outshot by a large margin. It showed on the scoreboard. The Wild picked up goals from defenseman Jared Spurgeon and tough guy Colton Gilles. Lost in the fold, that was Gilles' first goal of the season. It was a problematic trend for so many role players to be on the board for the hapless Wild team.
The Stars were fortunate to draw two penalties from Colton Gilles and Greg Zanon. Alex Goligoski, the acquisition of the spring, destroyed the puck into the net to tie it up on the 5-on-3 powerplay goal. The Stars were unable to keep up the pressure and lost their pressure overall.
Then, the dagger.
Former Dallas Star Antti Miettinen scored on Kari Lehtonen in the third period, and the Stars tried furiously to get back on the board, but just could not. Pierre-Marc Bouchard sealed the deal with an empty netter, and the Stars' season was over. All of the hope was gone, and all of the hard work came to an end. A crushing, disappointing end to the season struck the Stars with one sound of the Wild's resounding goal horn.
A shame, indeed.
It all comes down to regrouping in the summer and coming through with a new vision for next season. The pieces are there for a playoff run. Now it comes down to consistency.
Your move, Brad Richards.