The STARS are one step away from advancing to the second round for the first time in way too many years. It certainly is not over...but they have a strangle-hold on this series. Credit the Ducks for finally figuring out the STARS power play...they COMPLETELY shut it down. On the other hand, Dallas figured out how to beat Anaheim's aggressive 5-on-5 attacks...(1) steal the puck or say thank-you for the turn-over, (2) go in on break-aways (Barnes), 1-on-0's (Lundqvist), and 2-on-1's (Ott), (3) and put the puck behind JSG! Each team caught its fair share of breaks and penalties (though, for the first time in this series, I did not care for the officiating!), and each team's penalty kill was phenomenal. This game had to be won another way and the STARS were able to figure that out first.
Without question, this win started and ended with Marty Turco! Deservedly the #1 star of the game, he was in excellent position most of the night, saw the puck extremely well, and stood on his head a few times as well! Sadly, the team did not finish off the shutout for him...but he certainly earned one. Regardless, the only thing that matters to him is the win and that he did get credit for. Aside from the goal with 8 seconds left, Marty (technically) has 5 shutouts in the last 11 playoff games. In this series alone he has blanked the Ducks in 8 out of 12 total periods, allowing only 7 goals. My math says that gives him a GAA of about 1.75! On top of all this, he was okay after Selanne decided to try and skate through him, as well as give him a friendly elbow to the head on the way down. More class from the ever-so-brilliant champs!
Along with Selanne's cheapness, Perry finally decided to show up at the END of his first game back, with a vicious cross-check to (I think) Steve Ott. Then there is Huskins...what a fun issue this turned out to be! He was on the ice for at least the last two STARS' goals...and I could have sworn he was the one Eriksson stole the puck from on the first STARS' goal, though the sheet says different. Either way, he decides to give Ott the business in the corner -- doling out multiple cross-checks (which happen to go unnoticed by the official?). Then either him or another Duck cross-checks Barnes into the boards, from behind (again, official standing right there saw nothing?). But lo and behold, what happens next? Barnes steals the puck at center ice and is off on a 2-on-1 with Steve Ott, who proceeds to put the game away! What SWEET revenge for those two...such greatness! As per the norm...the Ducks pay for their over aggressiveness and moronic play! Oh, and tonight they paid for their blatantly illegal acts...for once!
The entire team played well tonight. The Ducks spent all their time shutting down Ribeiro-Morrow-Lehtinen...but the other 3 lines were equally as effective. Several names should be mentioned -- Turco, Barnes, Modano, Eriksson, Lundqvist, Robidas -- but the fact is this...this was a TOTAL TEAM EFFORT! Not to mention the fact that the STARS are once again rolling out THREE rookie defensemen. I've got to imagine that no team in the history of the NHL has played so well over the span of the season and thus far in the playoffs, with three rookie defensemen. But Fistric, once again, stepped in for Boucher and played an excellent game.
Again, this series is NOT over yet. Dallas is going to have to play harder and smarter tomorrow night than they have had to play all year. Anaheim is still the champ and I'm certain they will not just roll over tomorrow night...the STARS will have to take it from them. I, for one, BELIEVE they can do just that!
Allow me to share another personal note about tonight -- the outcome of this game was decided before the puck ever dropped! First of all, my buddy and I stuck to the plan and rebelled against the black-out...we both wore a white jersey. Then on the way to the AAC, amidst an incredible thunderstorm, we saw an awesome double rainbow...one of which we could see entirely, from left to right and top to bottom. I then received a text message from a family member who was watching my 2-year old daughter, Caroline. They had gone to a sports-themed restaurant for dinner, and were seated, unexpectedly, in the STARS section. Caroline kept seeing the memorabilia and said several times, "hockey...GO STARS!" That's my girl! Last but not least, my uncle always told me that it wasn't a real hockey game until they played AC/DC in the building. The STARS rolled out for warm-ups with the speakers blaring "Back in Black!" Like I said...the STARS were meant to succeed tonight...and I believe more celebration is to come!
One final comment -- the fans that packed the AAC tonight were INCREDIBLE! The place was louder than I've heard since the days at Reunion. We certainly did our part...the players could not have asked for more...then they gave us reasons for much celebration! Along with the multiple chants of "MAR-TY"...I think we had the best chant of all at the end. When the Ducks finally scored with 8 seconds to go...we heard the drop "It just doesn't matter." The voice in the drop says this over and over and his voice escalates as he does so...and as he said it the crowd began to say it and eventually the whole place was yelling "It just doesn't matter!" Greatness!
DucksFan07 -- is my interpretation of this series still something of fantasy? Or could I possibly be on to something? Tell me the Ducks did not play their best tonight...because it sure looked to me like they were all over the STARS on multiple occasions.