Mar 23, 2011, 11:58 PM EDT
Is Teemu Selanne a Stars-killer, or is it just a coincidence because the future Hall of Famer plays in the same division as Dallas? It doesn’t really matter, because either way, the veteran sniper delivered a gut-wrenching momentum change to the Stars in a Finnish Flash.
Dallas held a 2-1 lead late in the third period, but Selanne scored a tying goal with just seven seconds left. The Stars seemed genuinely rattled once the game entered overtime, playing back on their heels until Bobby Ryan set up Cam Fowler for a devastating game-winner a bit less than two minutes into OT.
Make no mistake about it, this is a huge win for the Ducks and a tough loss to take for the Stars. Anaheim now has a loose grip on the eighth spot in the West, with 87 points in 73 games played. The Ducks are red-hot as of late, with a four-game winning streak and nine wins in their last 11 games. Those last three victories came in overtime and all four were one-goal wins.
If you’re the type of person who likes to call teams or players “clutch,” this would be a good time to do so.
Ray Emery is now three-for-three in his impressive NHL return, but he might have to put it on hold again, as the team announced that workhorse goalie Jonas Hiller has been reactivated from the injured reserve. Three is normally a crowd in NHL nets, so it wouldn’t be surprising if the Ducks opted for a Hiller-Dan Ellis rotation.
On the bright side, they now know that Emery is a guy they can lean on if Hiller’s vertigo-like symptoms act up again.
The Stars aren’t totally lost, even if this loss hurts their chances – especially if the last playoff spot comes down to Dallas or Anaheim. (Anaheim only has one more point with the same games remaining, but has 37 non-shootout wins compared to the Stars’ 33. In other words, the Stars will probably need to finish with at least one more point than the Ducks, because they likely won’t win the tie-breaker.) Dallas has 86 points in 73 games played at the moment.
Squandering this win makes the Stars’ Saturday match against the Nashville Predators a borderline playoff game. Nashville holds a two-point lead with 88 points but the Predators already played one more game, so a regulation win could be a difference maker for Dallas. Of course, a regulation victory would be equally huge for the Preds.
Ultimately, this is far from the end of the race for both the Ducks and Stars, but some might look back at it as a pivotal moment in each teams’ seasons … at least until they play again (in Anaheim on April 3rd).
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