There’s still a lot of hockey left to be played and who knows what the future holds, but the Stars may have pulled off their biggest win of the season Friday night, rallying from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 in a shootout at American Airlines Center.
“For our group this is a great win,” said Stars coach Marc Crawford. “It could catapult us into this great race we are going to be going through these last 27 games.”
The Stars snapped a four-game winless streak, picking up their first win since the All-Star break. They picked up a crucial pair of points, staying two points ahead of both San Jose and Anaheim in the race for first place in the Pacific Division.
“Any win is hugely important and for us this could prove to be a catalyst,” said Crawford. “The adversity that we’ve gone through can really service us going forward and the way that it can is if we continue to play with the effort we had tonight.”
The Stars got a huge game-turning save from Kari Lehtonen late in the first period and then goals from Stephane Robidas, Brad Richards and Brenden Morrow in a 4:48 span late in the second period and early in the third to tie the game and then eventually would win it in the shootout.
“We’ve shown all year that this team doesn’t quit and that was in full effect tonight,” said Stars defenseman Trevor Daley.
It wasn’t a pretty start for the Stars, who were blitzed early by the Blackhawks. A turnover led to a Patrick Kane goal 3:39 into the game.
“That mistake affected us,” said Crawford. “We had seven or eight guys affected by that one mistake and we played the rest of the period on our heels.”
What turned out to be a key turning point for the Stars came with 4:28 left in the first period with Chicago on a five-on-three power play and a chance to go up 4-0. Kari Lehtonen came up with a spectacular glove save on Seabrook to keep it a 3-0 game.
“That was the difference maker tonight,” said Stars defenseman Trevor Daley. “To go down that much… This team never quits, but to battle back against a team like that it would have been tough. That’s what that guy has been doing all year for us.”
The ruling on the ice was no goal, but it went to video review and the ruling on the ice was upheld.
“Now, when you look at back it was a huge change.” said Lehtonen.” I think 4-0 would have been too much for us. It felt good.”
But it wasn’t until late in the second period when the Stars finally got their rally going. Robidas pinched into the offensive zone, circled the Chicago net and scored from the left circle with 4:01 left to make it a 3-1 game. Richards scored on the power play with 4.2 seconds left in the period to make it 3-2. And Morrow scored off a scramble in front of the net 47 seconds into the third to tie the game.
The game headed to the shootout, where Crawford chose Morrow, who hadn’t been used in the shootout this season, to go first.
“I picked Brenden because I was hoping he would score,” said Crawford.
And Morrow did. So did Richards and Ribeiro to give the Stars the much needed win and two points.
“Other than Morrow’s, where I knew where he was shooting, the other ones, you get beat, you get beat,” said Marty Turco, who lost in his first start against his former team. “It’s a little tougher to swallow this time, but I felt pretty good, but not to get two points and the win is disappointing.”
There was no disappointment for the Stars, who won for the first time since the All-Star break.
“It was huge. We were going through a little patch here where it hasn’t been fun,” said Richards. People around us have maybe started to doubt, but we in here knew if we just kept plugging away.”
Said Crawford: “Give our guys a ton of credit. They showed their character, they showed their determination and they showed their will to win. ... In a lot of ways, maybe that's a better win to have because it did take so much heart and determination.''