If you had imagined the most terrible things that could have happened to the Stars in that critical Game Three last night, all of them came true in the first seven minutes. Vegas scored just 71-seconds into the game. Veteran team captain Jamie Benn committed a flagrant and dirty foul almost immediately thereafter, earning himself an ejection and costing his team its stabilizing top line center. Jake Ottinger was pulled 7:10 into the game after giving up three goals on five shots. And it was over. As Mark Messier said on the broadcast, Vegas had broken the will of the Stars. After Max Domi’s ten-minute game misconduct was called with 21-seconds remaining in the second period, the crowd hurled garbage onto the AAC ice, forcing an early intermission. Embarrassing. All the way around.
No team in NHL history has ever come from 3-0 down to win a conference championship series. It’s never happened. And we saw nothing last night that would indicate the Stars might do it. Maybe Otter played too many games in a row down the regular season stretch and he’s just worn out. Maybe the physically and emotionally draining seven game series with Seattle took it out of them. Maybe the perfect mix of experienced veterans and superstar youngsters still needs another year or two – rookie Wyatt Johnston whiffed on another wide open shot last night when the game was still close. I don’t know.
I was expecting a Stars win last night. I thought there was just as good a chance Dallas would win in a blowout or hang on in a one-goal victory. It never occurred to me they would lose. And I never would have dreamed they’d get waxed like they did.
They’ll go through the motions in Game Four tomorrow night. They might even win one for the home fans and avoid the sweep. But this thing’s over.
Looks like the Rangers are twelve games over .500 and leading the AL West. Time for me to get serious about finding a Bally Sports password.