Morning After: Stars Solve The Curse Of The Ottawa Senators
The Dallas Stars had won only two of their last eleven meetings against the Ottawa Senators prior to last night. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how you end a curse as long as it is broken
There are some things in the world of sports that are unpredictable and cannot be explained. For example, how did Secretariat lose to a horse named Onion? When Roger Clemens was the best pitcher on the planet, how did a Texas Rangers backup catcher named Geno Petralli destroy him at the plate? Why do the Dallas Stars have so many problems with the Ottawa Senators?
Since the 2016-17 season began, Dallas had played Ottawa 11 times, the boys in Victory Green won only two of those events. During that time, Ottawa’s point percentage was a meager .454. Against the Stars, it was an astounding .818. The only Dallas goalie to win against the Senators in the past 5 seasons was Anton Khudobin. It’s not that others didn’t try. Ben Bishop, Kari Lehtonen, Antti Niemi, Braden Holtby and Scott Wedgewoood all stood between the pipes against Ottawa and none could secure a victory.
Things have been so bad for the Stars against their opposition from the Canadian capital city that the most memorable play during the past 6 years was a goal scored by Juri Hudler…into his own net. (Google “Hudler + Own Goal” if you don’t believe me.)
The Stars needed to regain their mojo after being shut out by Toronto. It didn’t matter that their opponent had the kryptonite effect on the home team. A win was needed and considering recent history, there would be no apologies for accomplishing the feat.
The Stars found a way to slay the Ottawa demon and as usual, they had to do it the hard way.
Two Miro Heiskanen goals in the first period and it’s a flying start. Miro giveaway leads to a goal, change in momentum and Ottawa dominates for the remainder of the first period and all of the second period. Ottawa scores on a deflection to begin the third. Nils Lundkvist gets a gift from Senators Goaltender Anton Forsberg, who did his best dodgeball impersonation on the tying goal.
The Stars were 0-5 this season in games decided after 60 minutes and had lost the last three extra-time contests vs. Ottawa. On this night, a kid shall lead them as Wyatt Johnston made the steal and centering pass to Tyler Seguin for the game winning shot. Plays like that are why Wyatt Johnston is in the NHL and not heading to the World Junior Championships. He’s just too good. Seguin was goalless in his last nine contests before potting the GWG. The proverbial monkey is off his back, but I’m sure it felt like a gorilla. As for Johnston, the 19-year-old hasn’t been around long enough to know of the Stars' struggles with Ottawa. Ignorance is bliss.
Let’s face it, this Stars team is anything but dull. Chasing hockey is losing hockey but comeback hockey is FUN!!! In six of the last seven home games, the Stars have trailed in the third period but have somehow found a way to get points in five of those contests.
Dallas isn’t exactly picking up any style points for this win. Two of the three goals scored were soft and for two periods Dallas was outplayed by the young Senators. The power play is 0-13 during the last three games. Maybe the most interesting stat of the night was the defensive pairing of Heiskanen and Lundkvist. The two were on the ice for all three goals against yet scored all three Dallas lamplighters to get the game to overtime.
There will be no apologies for the goals, the 40 minutes of being on the back foot or having to play from behind, again. This could have easily morphed into another night of negative outcome against a team Dallas should beat, but for some reason never do. For the first time since the opening month of the Jim Montgomery era, Dallas slayed demons from Ottawa and, in the process, maybe put to rest the spell the Senators had cast over the Stars.
Two points in December count as much as two points in March or April. This Stars team is finding ways to deposit games in the win column regardless of the path to earn those victories. In sports, there are events that cannot be properly dissected with numbers or graphs. When you take down an unlikely but persistent nemesis and do it the hardest way possible, just take the two points and leave the explanations to someone else, even if that explanation defies logic.