The Dallas Stars seem like they might be building something promising with new management and new uniforms. If you believe in the adage that “You have to learn to lose before you learn to win,” then Sunday’s stunning Game 6 loss may teach many lessons.
After chasing Frederik Andersen to build a 4-2 lead and maintaining that margin for much of the third period, the Stars seemingly built a comfortable lead. That fell apart following a stunning series of events that felt a little bit like a (far) lower stakes version of the Chicago Blackhawks twisting a potential Game 7 showdown into a surprising Stanley Cup win in Game 6 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final.
First, Nick Bonino made it 4-3 with two minutes and 10 seconds remaining:
That made things nervous for the Stars, but the Ducks really poured on the pressure late in the third period. After some close calls, Devante Smith-Pelly scored his second goal of the game with 24 seconds left to send this one to overtime:
Finally, Nick Bonino scored just 2:47 into overtime to end the game at 5-4 and close out the series for Anaheim at 4-2.
The Ducks faced ups and downs, yet these are the kind of wins that teams build deep runs on. If nothing else, it softened concerns about Anaheim falling short of expectations in the first round (they fell to Detroit in seven games last year). Bruce Boudreau may have questions in net between Jonas Hiller (perfect in relief) and Frederik Andersen (usurped Hiller late in the year but has been pulled twice in the postseason), yet he’s probably not too bothered by that question right now.
The Stars might have some positives to point to – the crowd in Dallas was buzzing after years of complacency, Tyler Seguin’s fantastic first year – but there’s no denying this must burn.
Brian Campbell doesn’t score as many points as he used to, but he came up with a huge goal against the Red Wings on Sunday afternoon.
With the game tied, 1-1, in overtime, Campbell skated into the slot and beat Petr Mrazek with a perfect wrister to end the game.
It was also a pretty nice passing play between Jussi Jokinen, Jonathan Huberdeau and Campbell.
Dylan Larkin opened the scoring in the second period before Reilly Smith leveled the score with just over five minutes remaining.
The Wings have blown a lead in three straight games.
Detroit was up 2-0 and 3-2 in their last game, against Edmonton, before they finally closed the game out with an overtime goal by Niklas Kronwall.
They weren’t so fortunate against the Bruins on Wednesday, as they lost 3-2 in OT after leading 2-1 with under two minutes remaining in regulation.
This was the first meeting of the season between Detroit and Florida, but they’ll see each other three times between Feb. 4 and Mar. 19.
You can’t blame Mike Babcock for siding with the relatively unknown when the other option is Jonathan Bernier, a goalie who’s 0-8-1 so far in 2015-16.
With that in mind, meet Garret Sparks, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ expected starter for Monday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.
Sparks was a seventh-round pick (190th overall) in 2011, a guy who was off to a great start in the AHL. That much wasn’t lost on Babcock.
Let’s face it, though; this is as much about the Leafs’ other two goalies as it is about Sparks (whose name inspired a very obscure reference in this post’s headline).
In Bernier’s case, there’s an “enough’s enough” feel:
Meanwhile, James Reimer‘s not quite healthy enough to play yet, so the window of opportunity is open for Sparks … a little bit.
Sparks will get a chance to make an impression, even if it’s just a small one.
So far, the 2015-16 crop of rookies is living up to the hype, if not exceeding it. Connor McDavid‘s unfortunate injury hasn’t even derailed this year’s crop.
The Detroit Red Wings are watching their own blue chip blossom, as Dylan Larkin is making an instant impact.
No. 71 scored his 10th goal of the season against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, fattening his rookie goals lead.
He still needs five points to match rookie points leader Artemi Panarin, though.
There’s one thing we seem to know about Carey Price‘s injury situation: he first got hurt stepping on a puck on Oct. 29, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.
Contrary to earlier reports about him missing about a month, it sounds like his window of recovery is still up in the air (which, to be fair, could mean that he’ll still miss about a month when it’s all said and done).
ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Price underwent testing with Montreal’s team doctor on Saturday and is expected to go through more; we may not know more about his expected injury timeline until early this coming week.
So, basically, Price’s situation is fuzzier than his mustache right now.
Leg injuries can be tricky anyway, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that there are mixed signals regarding Price, and this may remain a fluid situation for some time.
(But we’ll hopefully know more soon enough.)