PulseCards:Slow and steady

FROM:   E.J. Hradek at Hrinkside
DATE:   Monday, April 16

Slow and steady

Today, Dallas Stars GM Bob Gainey will run in the Boston Marathon. He's running the fabled race for two reasons: First, at age 47, the Hall of Fame left wing still loves to compete, to test himself. Second, he's raising money for the Hockey Fights Cancer charity. So far, his run has raised approximately $35,000.

Half a continent away, the team built in Gainey's rugged image won't be running anywhere. Instead, the Stars rest their weary bodies and get ready for battle No. 4 in their best-of-seven war with the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday. Last night, Gainey's team regained the home-ice advantage with a 3-2 come-from-ahead overtime win in enemy territory. Three-time Dallas Star Benoit Hogue, in the lineup only because of an MCL injury to C Joe Nieuwendyk, netted the game-winner with just 11 seconds left in the first overtime.

The game, though, should not have gone to the extra session. The Stars played a near perfect road game for the first 59 minutes. (Well, actually, 58:57.) They led 2-0. In the final 63 seconds, the Oilers -- hunting for an Easter miracle -- scored twice to tie the score.

In the suddenly-crazed Skyreach Coliseum (you probably remember it as the Edmonton or Northlands Coliseum), a dimmer collection of Stars would have folded. In fact, back in 1997, many of these same Stars sat in the visitors' locker room in Edmonton after blowing a 3-0 lead in the final five minutes of Game 3. That team lost in OT en route to a crushing seven-game series loss.

Four years later, the Stars regained their composure and dealt the Oilers an emotionally-deflating defeat on home ice. Now the Oilers face a must-win game. Can they bounce back? Sure, if they're willing to outbattle the Stars. But that's not an easy task.

Gainey's Stars clearly aren't the prettiest hockey team to watch. But because of their talent and their willingness to compete hard as a team, they're tough to beat. Very tough. And it all starts with the 47-year-old guy who'll be running through Boston on Monday. Like his team, Gainey may not finish first, but he'll finish. That much we're sure of.

E.J. Hradek writes hockey for ESPN The Magazine. E-mail him at ej.hradek@espnmag.com.