Perhaps it’s fitting that for many years, Stars fans and staff fought long and hard to have Dallas returned to their Central division roots only to see the Stars “return” to the Pacific for their first playoff run in nearly 6 years. The Stars open up in Anaheim against the Ducks on Wednesday night to start the best-of-7 game, quarterfinal series.
What’s even more fitting is that the last time the Stars were in the Stanley Cup playoffs, Dallas opened up at the Honda Center against the Ducks. Having been eliminated in the opening round the previous three years, Dallas looked to come out and take it right to the defending Stanley Cup champions and play a fast, physical game.
The plan worked.
Anaheim was the most penalized team in the league in 2007-2008 and that came back to bite them as they lost to the Stars, 4-0, with all 4 goals coming with the man advantage. It would be the first time in 6 attempts that the Stars had taken the first game of a series.
Despite a 5-2 final in game two, the Ducks seemed to have found their groove a little, getting scoring from the players who were leaned upon if Anaheim would repeat as Cup champions.
After Dallas got off to a 2-0 lead, Ducks’ forward, Teemu Selanne finally solved Stars’ netminder, Marty Turco who had held the Ducks scoreless in the first 83:41. Nearly 15 minutes later, Todd Bertuzzi found Travis Moen as he skated through the faceoff circle uncontested and brought the puck into the slot and backhanded the puck over an outstretched Turco.
The series shifted to Dallas with the Stars leading a series 2-0 for the first time since making the move south from Minnesota. Their play that evening supported that lack of “killer instinct” as the Ducks came in and immediately made a statement that they were the champs for a reason and they weren’t going to roll over.
Fittingly, that spark came from their captain, Chris Pronger as he assisted on Anaheim’s first goal and added two power play goals of his own, all in the first period. Held scoreless for the first two games, Pronger mentioned that the team “realized the mistakes we made and did a good job correcting those.”
Anaheim led 3-0 on just 4 shots. The Stars would ultimately lose for the 7th time in their last 8 home playoff games.
Dallas was able to fit the Ducks for a noose two nights later as they took a commanding 3 games to 1 lead by beating Anaheim, 3-1. Marty Turco was 7.6 seconds away from earning his 2nd shutout of the series when he was beat by Mathieu Schneider.
Frustration set in with Anaheim when Selanne drove hard into the crease and as he made contact with Turco, his elbow got up and knocked off Turco’s mask.
“It wasn’t an accident,” Marty said after the game. “You’ve got to appreciate his moxie to help those guys win. Their backs are against the wall and he’s a competitor.” Dallas continued to get offensive production from their superstars, Mike Modano, Mike Riberio and Steve Ott. It was the blue line that was shocking the hockey world. Playing in just their 4th playoff games due to injury, Nicklas Grossman(n) and Matt Niskanen along with the playoff debut of Mark Fistric kept the high scoring threats of the Ducks in check.
The Ducks returned to the Honda Center and got a huge lift with their leading goal-scorer, Corey Perry, who had missed the previous 6 weeks with a lacerated thigh, put the Ducks on the board early. Selanne, Ryan Getzlaf and Sean O’Donnell each added a goal and an assist a piece as the Ducks held on to life support and forced a game 6 back in Dallas, defeating the Stars, 5-2. The first period was littered with 38 penalty minutes between the two teams, including 10-minute misconducts to Brenden Morrow and Francois Beauchemin.
Dallas looked to advance to the 2nd round of the playoffs for the first time in 5 years again as the series went back to Dallas for game 6. Like any good heavyweight fight, the two teams exchanged jabs in the beginning with neither wanting to make a crucial mistake. The first period ended with no score and only 5 penalties taken between the two organizations.
Perry, again opened the scoring in the opening 3 minutes of the middle frame and that remained the score heading into the final 20 minutes. However, as the two teams headed back out on to the ice, Ryan Carter immediately took a holding penalty that put Dallas on the man advantage. One minute, one second later, Stephane Robidas found the back of the net with a shot from the point. Less than a minute later, Stu Barnes would score what would become the game winning goal. Dallas would add two more goals in the last 3 minutes, sending them on to the 2nd round to face another Pacific division rival, San Jose Sharks.
Anaheim would become the 5th defending Cup champions to be eliminated in the first round.
Fast forward to 2014. The goalies are different; Anaheim still relies on Perry and Getzlaf and Teemu Selanne has been on his “farewell tour.” The only player on Dallas’ roster from the 2008 run is defenseman, Trevor Daley. His former linemate, Stephane Robidas, was dealt to Anaheim at the trade deadline this past March after missing most of the season with a broken leg. However, this year's Stars team has not had this level of talent. This is going to go 6 games and I think the Stars match up very well. Perhaps, we'll see a repeat of the 2nd round as well. Stay tuned to find out.