Walt Disney would’ve loved Thursday’s Stars game.
It was Goofy.
It was Dopey.
It was eve a little Beastly at times.
And, in the end, it was entertaining, which is what Walt was all about.
In a game when defensemen Ryan Suther and Andrej Sekera scored goals, Dallas was able to take a 3-2 win over the Ducks on the strength of a beautiful goal by Jamie Benn in overtime. The victory pushed the Stars to 10-1 in overtime this year and moved to 36-25-3, good for 79 points and the second wild card playoff spot in the West.
For one night, at least.
It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective.
“It wasn’t the smoothest game,” Stars coach Rick Bowness said. “It was a little choppy out there. We had enough scoring opportunities. We limited their chances. It just didn’t look as pretty as what you’d hope it would look.”
But that’s sort of been the team’s calling card all season. They won in Carolina because of a great goaltending performance. They lost to Vancouver when they fumbled a dozen great scoring chances. They won on Thursday even though they squandered scoring chances and their goalie gave up a fluky goal. Bottom line, they found a way to win yet again.
They’re now 5-1-0 in their past six games. They’ve gone 13-4-1 in their past 18 on the road. They’re a team that knows how to win.
“There’s going to be a lot of tight games,” Benn said. “We’ve been in tight games all year. Our group’s been through a lot over the last couple years, added some great players to our roster. We’re comfortable in these tight games. Good teams find a way to win, and that’s what we are.”
That’s sort of how this Disney movie has gone. Every time the Stars think they have overcome the necessary adversity to reach a happy ending, the villain(s) step up. On Thursday, Dallas was both good and terrible, dominating the Ducks at times, and then slipping on a banana peel.
Dallas had a 1-0 lead thanks to Suter’s third power-play goal of the season, a backdoor pinch that led to a swiping shot at a rebound in the first period. That goal stood up during a crazy second period until Anaheim’s Jamie Drysdale scored on a shot from the right point with 40 seconds left in the second period.
The puck bounced hard off the end boards and then somehow slipped between Stars goalie Jake Oettinger and the post, and the game was tied with 20 minutes remaining.
Both teams played better in the third with Anaheim enjoying a 12-10 advantage in shots on goal, but it was Dallas that came up with the big play. Dallas took a 2-1 lead on Sekera’s first goal of the season as the clock ticked under five minutes remaining. It was a fantastic play by a veteran player, and it came at just the right time.
But Anaheim found a way to tie things up, and the adversity started again.
It would’ve been easy for the Stars to break down. Heck, Oettinger had to step up with a big save in overtime. It would’ve been easy for the chaos to become too much. but then I look at Heiskanen made a nice play in the d-zone, slipped a pass up ice to Benn, and the captain calmly walked in and beat John Gibson for the game-winner against an Anaheim team that’s now lost 11 straight games.
“Sometimes, those games are tough,” Suter said. “They’ve really got nothing to play for. They’re playing for their pride, but they came at us. We kind of gave them the momentum in the second period and stuck with it and came out on top.”
It was another fantastic memory in what’s been an oddly storybook season. And yet they’re just one point up on Vegas and three points up on Winnipeg. The Stars have games in hand, but they have to keep winning them.
At the very least, they seem to be pretty comfortable with it.
“I think that’s our style, playing those tight games,” Suter said. “You’re not going to go out and score a ton of goals in the playoffs. I think if we can find a way to keep winning and find a way to get in, these games are preparing us for that.”
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.
Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.