Some thoughts and observations after the Dallas Stars rallied from a 4-2 deficit to defeat the San Jose Sharks 5-4 in overtime Thursday at American Airlines Center.
From a pure entertainment standpoint that game ranked high. It had everything – plenty of scoring, lots of shots, lots of intensity, some fights, a late rally and an overtime finish.
It was a big win for the Stars, who have now won five straight at home and five of eight overall. Give them credit. They could have folded the tent after blowing a two-goal lead and falling behind by two goals. But they kept pushing, got pucks and people to the net and they found a way to win. “These games are huge,” said Stars captain Brenden Morrow. “We knew this team was playing its third [game] in four [nights] and we just wanted to keep pressuring strong on the forecheck and I think it took until the last five minutes of the third period before we started getting some good chances. We kept our feet moving, we drew some penalties and got some goals.”
“We found a way,” said Stars coach Marc Crawford. “We got through all the mess. We got through all the turmoil and shows you’re becoming a pretty good team when you can get through the mess.”
Another quote from Crawford: “It’s a character builder because we stuck with it. Whether it was just sheer guts and determination by a handful of players or just collectively – the whole group finding a way – at the end of the day we found a way and that is huge for our team. Because if you look at the alternative that’s no fun and winning is. Pretty poetic, isn’t it?”
So what’s it all mean in the big picture? That’s to be determined. It’s a long season. Short term, it was a big two points against a divisional rival and 10-7-0 looks better than 9-8-0.
It was kind of funny – not from the San Jose perspective of course – that this game mirrored the Sharks’ loss in Colorado Wednesday night. They led by two goals, had a goal that would have extended the lead to three goals waved off because it was put in with a high stick, then gave up two late goals and lost in overtime.
A big night for Mike Ribeiro, who has no doubt been frustrated with not scoring a goal in the first 16 games. He scores two huge goals – the game-tying one with 2:06 left in regulation and then the winner in overtime. This could help get that second line going and provide some added punch to the top line which provided some big offense tonight with James Neal scoring twice, including the key late goal that made it a 4-3 game. Neal (2 goals, 1 assist), Brad Richards (1 goal, 2 assists) and Loui Eriksson (2 assists) were a productive trio again tonight.
I thought the Stars were excellent in the first period, or at least up until the very end of it. The shots were basically even, but the Stars had the better chances, had built a 2-0 lead and looked to be in good shape. Then Scott Nichol splits the Stars’ defense, scores a goal late in the period to make it a 2-1 game going into the second. That was a huge turning point, gave the Sharks some momentum and they built on it.
The Stars’ penalty kill came up big in this game. Went 5-5 and it killed off a double minor to James Neal that ran from late in the second into early in the third. Power play scored once. Special teams advantage to the Stars on this night.
A quote from Crawford on the Richards-Torrey Mitchell scrum that led to both players getting a 10 minute misconduct: “Their guy came out off the faceoff and went right to him. Had everything been seen – but it was at whistle – Mitchell should have been thrown out of the game. As it was, it was an altercation and that’s the rule – you get 10 minute misconducts. They didn’t catch that Mitchell had started it, but it was very clear on the video that Mitchell comes off the bench. Brad’s actually waiting below the face-off circle. Here’s a guy who was a Lady Byng candidate and he knows he’s so valuable to us on the ice, the last thing he wants to do is be off for 10 minutes and it ended up being very detrimental to us. That was part of the turmoil we had to get through in the game. At least one thing, Brad was very fresh and we used him a lot in the third period.”