Stars are defined by their resilience, ability to come back

Dallas Stars

If the Dallas Stars are going to win the Stanley Cup it is going to require a herculean comeback against a completely dominant Tampa Bay Lightning team.

It would be the sort of comeback that has only happened one other time in NHL history (a 3-1 comeback in the Stanley Cup Final) and cap off an absolutely improbable postseason run that has already seen them knock off a pair of Stanley Cup favorites in Colorado and Vegas.

They took their first step in that comeback on Saturday night with a 3-2 double overtime win that was capped off with Corey Perry‘s game-winning goal.

Comebacks are a defining trait of this team.

What makes that goal and that win so notable — aside from the obvious fact that it kept the series going — is that it was already the Stars’ ninth come from behind win of the postseason.

Even before Saturday’s game they had already won three games this postseason when trailing after two periods. Over the past 20 years, only two teams had won more such games in a single postseason, and nobody had won more than four. There were only 10 other teams that have had three. Teams just do not typically come from behind that late in playoff games. It’s not easy.

It is not just the games where they trailed going into the third period, either. It is also the games where they’ve been tied going into the third, then fallen behind, and still come back to win. That is exactly what happened on Saturday night. After Mikhail Sergachev scored to put Tampa Bay ahead early in the third period, the Stars tied the game with less than seven minutes to play on a Joe Pavelski goal.

That is the already the fifth time this postseason, including the Round-Robin phase, where the Stars won a game that they had been trailing with less than seven minutes to play in regulation.


That includes their series-clinching win against Vegas in the Western Conference Final when they trailed by two goals with 10 minutes to play in regulation.

Their ability to come back in these situations might seem surprising because they do not seem to be a team built to come from behind. They were one of the lowest scoring teams in the regular season, and are not really built to win high-scoring games.

But this isn’t a new development for them in the playoffs.

They have been doing it all year.

The Stars won a league best nine games when trailing after two periods during the regular season, while their .290 winning percentage in those situations was the third-best in the league trailing only Washington (.322) and St. Louis (.318). Other than those three teams nobody else in the league won more than 25 percent of their games when trailing after two periods.

So what’s the key to this?

A lot of it might come down to the fact that even when they are trailing they are never really out of a game. Their defensive play and goaltending is always going to keep them in games, so even if they are losing, they are typically only one shot away from tying the game. It’s one of the many benefits that great goaltending affords a team. It can not only steal a game, it can keep you in a game.

The Stars also see a little bit of a surge in their shot rates when trailing (like most teams do). It’s not so much a matter of them being able to “flip the switch” as much as it might be an ability to adapt and play any style and adapt to different circumstances and opponents.

[Lightning vs. Stars: 2020 Stanley Cup Final schedule]

While the Stars are not a team known for their offense, they DO have a pretty talented roster that should be able to score goals. Their top line when it is clicking can be elite. The offseason addition of Joe Pavelski and the emergence of young forwards Roope Hintz and Denis Gurianov also added more secondary scoring to a lineup that badly needed it. They also have two elite offensive defensemen on the blue line in Miro Heiskanen and John Klingberg.

We saw against Calgary and Colorado how they were able to light up the scoreboard offensively.

Against Vegas and during most of the regular season they were able to lock things down and lean on their goalie.

Whatever the reason for their ability to bounce back — and there is almost certainly some small element of luck to it as well — this Stars team never goes away.

Not in a single game. Not in a best-of-seven series. Whether they end up completing the comeback or not remains to be seen, but you can be sure they are not going to go away without a fight.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Dallas Stars (TB leads 3-2)

Stars 4, Lightning 1 (recap)
Lightning 3, Stars 2 (recap)
Lightning 5, Stars 2 (recap)
Lighting 5, Stars 4 [OT] (recap)
Stars 3, Lightning 2 [2OT] (recap)
Game 6: Monday, Sept. 28, 8 p.m. ET – NBC
*Game 7: Wednesday, Sept. 30, 8 p.m. ET – NBC

*if necessary

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Scroll Down For:

    Islanders agree to terms with Mathew Barzal on 8-year extension

    Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    Mathew Barzal has agreed to terms with the New York Islanders on an eight-year extension, a move that keeps the franchise’s top forward under contract for the balance of his prime.

    The deal is worth $73.2 million with an annual salary cap hit of $9.15 million, according to a person with knowledge of the contract. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not announce terms.

    Barzal has led the team in scoring, or been tied for the lead, every season since he became a full-time NHL player in 2017-18. He has 349 points in 411 regular-season and playoff games for the defensively stingy Islanders, who qualified for the postseason three consecutive times before an injury- and virus-altered last year.

    “We feel recharged,” Barzal said recently. “We feel like everybody had good summers and worked hard, and we got that excitement back.”

    Barzal, now 25, is coming off putting up 59 points in 75 games. The offensive star will now be asked to round out his game.

    “I’m a fan because Mat has the ability to raise his game and to be a special player,” general manager Lou Lamoriello told reporters at the team’s practice facility on Long Island. “And now, with this contract and our faith in him, (it) puts that responsibility on him. We’re trusting that. It’s up to him to respond to that.”

    Senators goaltender Cam Talbot out 5-7 weeks with injury

    Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

    OTTAWA, Ontario — Ottawa Senators goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to be out five to seven weeks with what the team called an upper-body injury.

    The Senators initially called Talbot day to day with what they hoped was a minor injury. Instead he’s now expected to miss at least the first month of the NHL season.

    Ottawa claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken upon announcing Talbot’s expected absence. Hellberg, who played for Sweden at the Beijing Olympics could split time with countryman Anton Forsberg while Talbot is out.

    The Senators acquired Talbot from Minnesota during the offseason to make him their starter after the Wild opted against bringing him back along with Marc-Andre Fleury. Talbot, 35, had a 2.76 goals-against average and .911 save percentage this season.

    Losing Talbot is a blow to the Senators, who also acquired winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and signed longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux as part of a move toward contending and ending their playoff drought.

    Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

    Harry How/Getty Images

    CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

    The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

    The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

    The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

    Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

    Getty Images

    ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

    The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

    The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

    Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

    The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.