By Martin Iheke
The Anaheim Ducks ended the Dallas Stars’ season after coming back from a 4-2 deficit late in regulation to win in overtime, 5-4. The Ducks won the best-of-seven series, 4-2.
After killing off a penalty, Stars defenseman Trevor Daley received a nice backhanded pass from Stars forward Shawn Horcoff and put one past Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen to put his team up, 1-0. Then on the power play, Stars forward Cody Eakin scored to put the Stars up, 2-0. It is the third power play goal of the series for the Stars. The Ducks would get a power play opportunity where forward Devante Smith-Pelly would score to cut the Stars lead to, 2-1. It would look like the Ducks would build off the momentum until Stars forward Ryan Garbutt scored to give back the two-goal lead for the Stars. The Stars ended the period with eleven shots to the Ducks’ eight.
Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy would cut the lead in half early in the period as he would put one past Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen. Then about midway through the period, Trevor Daley would notch his second goal of the game putting the Stars back up by two goals. Ducks backup goalie Jonas Hiller would come in for Andersen. The Stars would end the period with eight shots to the Ducks’ six.
It would look like the Stars were going to force a Game 7 until about three minutes left in regulation when Ducks forward Nick Bonino would cut the Stars lead to, 4-3, with a goal. Then with less than a minute to go, Ducks forward Devante Smith-Pelly would tie the game. The Stars finished the period with five shots to the Ducks’ ten.
It did not take long for Ducks forward Nick Bonino to end the Stars’ season when he scored from the slot with just inside three minutes into overtime. The Ducks only had one shot to the Stars’ zero.
Stars Players’ Reaction
Tyler Seguin on the loss –
“It’s not a good feeling. I’m very proud of our guys. I thought we competed so hard. There were lots of ups and downs this season. For a young team, I think we have something good to build on.”
Jamie Benn on losing the two-goal lead –
“Couple of breakdowns and they found a way to get two pretty good ones there.”
Kari Lehtonen on the loss –
“It’s hard to say anything right now. We played hard. It turned quickly there in the third (period). That’s the way it goes.”
Head coach Lindy Ruff on losing the series –
“It’s tough to lose a series considering how well we played the whole series. We just had dominant periods that one thing that was missing was a little bit of finish. You can go back to Game 2 where we were dominating. We could have been the team that scored late. We had a couple of unbelievable opportunities to tie it up and missed those opportunities. We talked this morning about some of our finishes and we had it there at 4-2 with two minutes left, but it’s a cruel way. Sometimes, hockey is cruel. It was really cruel to a group of guys that worked as hard as they possibly could, tonight. There wasn’t one guy that was a passenger.”
Ouch. That hurts. The Stars had a 4-2 lead at home and were about three minutes away from forcing a Game 7 until the Ducks were able to storm back to tie it and send the game into overtime where they won it and the series. This is a bitter pill to swallow and it will sting for a while but when I look back at this season, I see a lot of positives going forward. A lot of these guys are experiencing the postseason for the first time and the way they responded in this series was good to see. I think we found out a lot about the captain of this squad, Jamie Benn. He was awesome in this series and he will be a force to reckon with for years to come for this franchise. Kari Lehtonen did not have one of his better performances in this series, but I cannot image that he will not learn from this and improve. And head coach Lindy Ruff did an amazing job with this team throughout the year after everything they went through from the losing streak to the injuries including the Rich Peverley incident. I do not know if another coach out there would have done a better job. The future is very bright for this team. Sometimes you have to lose to learn how to win and this is just another step this franchise has to take in order for them to reach their ultimate goal which is to hoist the Stanley Cup.