DETROIT - The Dallas Stars were certainly tired and could have folded up their tents. Down, 3-2, late in the game at Detroit, having gutted out a 2-1 win at Columbus less than 24 hours earlier, no one would have blamed the Stars for a solid effort that ended up just short. Sunday evening at the Joe looked like it was headed for another Red Wings win.
But then again, these Dallas Stars do not go gentle into that good night.
Brenden Morrow scored on a nice backhand shot with 3:14 left in regulation to pull the team even at 3-3 and send the game to overtime. Loui Eriksson then gave Dallas the win with just 42 ticks left on the clock.
Final score: Dallas 4, Detroit 3.
It should not be surprising to those who have followed this team. They simply refuse to give up and seem to find a way to score that big goal or make that important save (and sometimes both, like on Sunday evening at the Joe).
“It does say a lot about our team,” said Morrow. “It would have been nice to do it in regulation because we’re just tightening that Western Conference right now with all those points. Being down and fighting hard, we’ve just found ways the last three weeks or so to stay in games. This one could have been easy to let get away from us. (Andrew Raycroft) made some big saves for us, our PK did a good job and we just hung around and pounced when we got the opportunities.”
Raycroft made 28 saves, including some key ones after Dallas tied it late in the third. He and Kari Lehtonen have given the team confidence from the goaltending position each night and that has been a huge key.
It didn’t look good early. Detroit took a quick 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by PavelDatsyuk(one of the nicest goals you’ll ever see on a backhand) and Patrick Eaves.
But Brad Richards scored just after Eaves’ tally to cut the lead to 2-1 and give the Stars new life. Morrow then tipped in a Trevor Daley point shot and just like that, the game was tied at 2-2 after one period.
The second period went back and forth and looked to remain scoreless until Johan Franzen scored with 16.3 seconds left on the clock to give the Wings a 3-2 lead. Datsyuk got the puck to the slot, where Brian Rafalski tipped the puck to Franzen, who then roofed it home over Raycroft.
Dallas would not go away and finally got Morrow’s equalizer late in the third, setting up Eriksson’s heroics.
The Stars got a power play in overtime but could not cash in. With less than a minute remaining, Dallas got a three-on-one where Eriksson showed his lethal touch on a wrister from the left circle to give the Stars the win.
“I saw we were going to have a 3-on-1," Eriksson said. “(Niklas) Kronwall took the pass away so I knew I was going to shoot.”
"We had a lot of reasons and a lot of excuses to pack it in. But our guys hung in there," said Stars head coach Marc Crawford.
The Stars are now 20-10-3 for the season, one point behind the Red Wings for tops in the conference. Amazingly, Dallas is also just six points ahead of the log jam at seeds 8, 9 and 10 with 37 points. That’s how tight the conference is.
Don’t count these Stars out. They’ve shown that they thrive when the race is tight. Whether it is a game or the standings, this team is showing it has what it takes to end up on top.
-- The Stars are 10-2-2 in their last 14 games and improved to 14-2-3 in games decided by one goal this season. Dallas leads the league in one-goal game winning percentage this season (including the last two road wins).
-- Loui Eriksson recorded his third game of the year with three-or-more points (1g, 2a). Dallas is 6-1-1 this season when he has multiple-points and 3-0-0 when he has two assists. The Stars are 38-4-7 all-time when he has a multi-point game. Eriksson has two goals and four assists in the last three games.
-- The Stars have not lost an OT/shootout game vs. the Wings since Oct. 31, 2001, going 5-0-5 vs. Detroit in that span (3 shootout wins, 2 OT wins, 5 ties).
-- Dallas is 8-2-0 in its last 10 games against Detroit.
-- The Stars have scored a power play goal in each of the last five games (season-high) and are 6-for-24 (25.0%) in that span.
-- Dallas is 6-2-1 in its last nine road games.
-- Dallas is 8-3 this season in games decided after regulation, including 4-1 in overtime (4-2 in the shootout).
-- Brad Richards has points in each of the last three games (3g, 1a).