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There's no denying that Tuesday night's 5-2 San Jose win in Dallas dealt a huge blow to the Stars' playoff chances, but they're not officially eliminated (yet).
|St. Louis Blues||79||48-21-10||106|
|Los Angeles Kings||80||40-27-13||93|
|Detroit Red Wings||79||47-27-5||99|
|San Jose Sharks||80||41-29-10||92|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||80||27-46-7||61|
Dallas now trails the Sharks by three points, meaning they'd need to win out with only two games remaining, and hope the Sharks lose in regulation twice. Dallas' final two games are rough - they'll travel to Nashville on Thursday, where the Predators are still fighting to clinch the No. 4 seed and home ice in the first round. After that they'll host No. 2 seed St. Louis, who has wrapped up the Central Division but are still one of the best and most agressive teams in the league.
San Jose will close their season with a Thursday/Saturday two-game series with the L.A. Kings, who they could still leap over for a No. 3 overall seed with the Pacific Division title.
The worst situation for Dallas would be a split of the series - if either team loses both games in regulation, Dallas could still sneak into the playoffs.
This one hurts. In what is likely the season ender, the Stars lost 5-2 to the San Jose Sharks as the Sharks scored twice more in the third period. Things just never got off the ground in the third period for the Stars.
Dallas had some dicey moments in the first minutes of the period after Mark Fistric took a double minor high-sticking penalty. The Stars were able to kill off both of them with minimal danger to gather a small amount of momentum. That momentum wouldn't really last though as the Stars just couldn't get shots onto Niemi. His defenders were blocking shots and the Dallas forwards were just reluctant to shoot the puck.
Jamie Benn had a breakaway with five minutes left in the game to tie it up but he couldn't slide it past Antti Niemi. The Sharks would take immediate advantage of that with a Joe Thornton goal. He ended up with the puck in the face-off circle and beat Lehtonen high and short-side to put the Sharks up 4-2.
That loss likely ends the Stars season as they find themselves two points behind with only two games left in the season. Top players just didn't show up in this game. Among the guys that just disappeared this game was Mike Ribeiro, who did literally nothing. Lehtonen also had a poor one as he let in two soft short-side goals. I figure he was gassed a little as he's started nearly every game for the past month and a half and he's nearing career highs in games played.
It was a disappointing ending to what should have been the most important game of the season for Dallas. They did overachieve a bunch this season though, so things are looking up for next year, but this one still hurts.
The second period got off to a disappointing start for the Stars as they couldn't score on the five-on-three and then five-on-four power plays in the first minute and 40 seconds. Dallas just wouldn't shoot the puck for some reason and seemed content to pass pass pass and pass trying to set up for something that wasn't there. It just ended up looking ugly ugly ugly.
Things got much more beautiful midway through the period as Alex Goligoski scored his first goal since Feb. 19. Jamie Benn did an incredible job working the puck around the net and finding Goose around the blue line. He started out with the puck at the blue line, skated down and around the goal to the other side of the net and made a cross ice pass to Goligoski. Steve Ott was in a pile of bodies at the net and Goose's slapshot found the back of the net to put the Stars up 2-1.
Unfortunately, that lead would last all of 32 seconds. T.J. Galiardi scored a goal from an acute angle on Kari Lehtonen's left side. He was right beside the net and somehow beat Lehtonen shortside. It's really a goal that he should have stopped, but he didn't and the score was tied at 2-2. Deflating goal that really let the air out of the building.
Logan Couture made things worse for Dallas as he scored a power play goal with two minutes left in the period. Michael Ryder took a tripping penalty that was the result of some sloppy puck handling from Sheldon Souray. Martin Havlat made a pass from the boards to Couture, who was sitting in the slot. He tipped the pass towards the net and it went right through Lehtonen's armpit to put the Sharks up 3-2.
Dallas has outshot the Sharks 21-14 but the special teams has let the Stars down. They really need to regroup in the locker room or their season is done.
In case anyone has forgotten, this is what playoff hockey feels like. Dallas is playing with a desperation, a hunger that was sorely lacking in the Saturday game. They actually look like an actual hockey team today.
The game was a wild back and forth for the first 12 minutes of the game as each team traded chances. The Stars played good sound defense and Kari Lehtonen was there to make the stop when that defense crumbled. They put in a few good chances on Antti Niemi but just couldn't get it past him. They also had a bunch of shots blocked by diving Sharks defenders.
The Sharks finally scored a goal 13 minutes into the period that probably should not have counted. The Stars lost a face-off (which would be a problem throughout the period) and the puck went back to the blue line. A shot went wide and Lehtonen was tripped from behind by Tommy Wingels and the officials did not make a goalie interference call. The rebound from the initial shot eventually went to Daniel Winnik, who shot it by a sprawled Lehtonen (again because he was tripped by Wingels). There was no review of the play for some reason so the goal counted. 1-0 Sharks.
Dallas answered back as Brenden Morrow made his biggest contribution in weeks, if not months, with a goal that had to be given from the hockey gods. He fought for the puck behind the net, got it and swung around. As he appeared on the side of the net, he just backhanded a shot towards the net that bounced off of Niemi's pads and into the net to tie it up at 1-1.
This was a very encouraging period from the Stars. They look lively out there and are fighting for every puck. They were unlucky on the goal as it (at least in my opinion) should not have counted, but they fought through that and tied it up.. There were a lot of loose pucks in front of Niemi that the Stars couldn't quite reach, but the danger is there. They got the only power play of the period, a five-on-three, at the very end. They didn't score, but still have some time left to start the second period.
At one point in the season, and it wasn't long ago, the Dallas Stars were the hottest team in the NHL and appeared as if they were primed to make a run at the postseason.
The Stars had won 10 out of 11 games from late-February to mid-March and were racking points like crazy, but the club has taken a downward slide since then by losing six of their last nine contests.
On Tuesday, Dallas fights for its playoff livelihood against the San Jose Sharks at American Airlines Center. This, essentially is the playoffs as the Stars enter the "win or go home" type of scenarios. Dallas holds the ninth seed in the Western Conference playoff race, with the Sharks just a point ahead of them at the eight seed. One of those two teams will be the lone group in the Pacific Division that will not see any playoff action this season.
The Western Conference playoff implications are on the line in Tuesday night's matchup between the Dallas Stars and San Jose Sharks.