By Martin Iheke
Your Dallas Stars were looking to salvage the rest of the season by making one last run at the playoffs. At this point, they pretty much need to win out to have any shot. They took the first step to doing that by beating the New York Islanders at home last Tuesday night, 3-2, overtime. The Stars were on their way to winning this one before a fluke goal scored by Islanders forward Anders Lee with less than two seconds remaining in regulation. Lee shot the puck and it looked like it was going wide before it went off Stars defenseman Jordie Benn’s skate and into the net. Luckily, Stars forward Cody Eakin was able to seal the deal with the game-winner.
After the game, Eakin talked the Stars snapping their six-game losing streak. “Yeah it is,” Eakin said. “We haven’t had much luck in those situations. It was kind of their luck to tie it with one second left, but to get that one in overtime was good.” Either way, the Stars will take it. This is their second overtime win this season and their first win at home in overtime in over three years. They also welcomed back defenseman Patrik Nemeth who had missed almost the last five months because of a lacerated arm. He looked okay only playing 12 minutes and had two hits and a blocked shot. They gained one defenseman and lost another however. Trevor Daley was kneed early in the game by Islanders forward Matt Martin and left the game. Martin was given a game misconduct and was ejected. Stars head coach Lindy Ruff said he expects Daley to be out for “weeks”. The NHL decided to suspend Martin one game for the dirty hit despite being a repeat offender. Not good enough, NHL, as they clearly dropped the ball on this one again.
While we are on the subject of this, the timing could not come at a better time as the Stars traveled to Florida to play the Florida Panthers last Thursday night. The last time they played them, Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov took out Stars forward Tyler Seguin. Kulikov got a four-game suspension out of it but was available to play in this game. There was quite a bit of hype going into this one to see if the Stars would retaliate and they did thanks to rookie forward Curtis McKenzie stepping up to the plate and fighting him. He scored the first goal of the game while Kulikov recorded the “Gordie Howe” hat trick (a goal, an assist, a fight). However, it was not enough for the Panthers as the Stars would win via the shootout, 4-3. Stars backup goalie Jhonas Enroth came in relief after Kari Lehtonen was pulled in the second period for giving up three soft unanswered goals. Enroth is 6-0 this season in the shootout stopping 23 of 24 shots as he won his first game as a Dallas Star.
“It is what you make it,” Enroth said according to NHL.com. “If you tell yourself it’s going to be difficult, it’s difficult. I told myself I was going to be fine. I prepare well for the game, I was pretty calm when they put me in.” Unfortunately, the Stars could not extend their winning streak to three games as they fell at the Tampa Bay Lightning, 5-4, last Saturday night. Tyler Seguin returned to the ice after missing the last three weeks before the injury he suffered from Kulikov. He had two goals in the game, but it was not enough to help the Stars. “Same story. … We can talk as much as we want but … you [can’t] give away wins, and that’s what we did again tonight,” Seguin said according to NHL.com. “It’s on all of us in here. There aren’t any excuses for it. It’s just tough to swallow.”
“I worked really hard to get back in the lineup and I was happy to be out there. But even with two goals, it doesn’t matter without getting the win.” It has been this way all season for the Stars. Giving up leads late in games has been the norm. It is one of the reasons why they are currently ten points out of the last playoff spot in the Western Conference.
3/10 @Flyers 6:00 pm
3/13 @Hurricanes 6:00 pm
3/13 @Capitals 6:00 pm
3/15 vs Blues 5:00 pm