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Annual Meltdowns and Bouncing Back

by Seamus O'Callahan / Dallas Stars

Well, last night was the annual meltdown at Staples Center in Los Angeles. It seems to happen every season out there. And after this latest debacle, we can come up with just a few possible explanations.

Seamus O'Callahan
Did Eddie Belfour break a mirror or two in his last game at Staples?

Is the arena built on Indian burial ground?

Facial hair? You know – these blown leads never took place in LA until Coach Tippett shaved off his mustache. Coincidence?

Seriously though, that was a tough one to take last night. Every point is precious in this tight race and the lost point may come back to haunt the Stars. Time will tell.

But I did a little research this morning and came up with some trends that should help ease the Stars fans’ worries a bit.

There have now been four “meltdown” games at Staples Center in Los Angeles in the four seasons since the lockout. And in each previous instance, the Stars bounced back.

Exhibit A) January 2, 2006. The Stars scored the first two goals of the game and should have led, 2-0, at the end of two. Instead, (Stars killer) Lubomir Visnovsky found the back of the net with less than one second left in the second stanza. Despite that, even the 2-1 lead looked like it was going to hold up until Antti Miettinen’s hook with 1:09 to play gave LA a 6-on-4 situation with the goalie pulled. Visnovsky tied it with 27 seconds left. Jason Arnott gets called for tripping 40 seconds into OT and LA captain (and future Star) Mattias Norstrom scored from the point on the power play for the win.
The Aftermath: Dallas won the next six in a row.

Exhibit B) February 12, 2006. The Stars were doing fine, having gone 14-4-1 since the last visit to LA, listed above. Dallas scored four goals in the second, powering to a 5-2 lead after two. Our old buddy Visnovsky scored just 45 ticks into the third and this one just had that feeling again. LA went on to score three goals in the first 2:57 of the period, and just like that, it was tied at 5-5. The Kings won it on a power play goal by Derek Armstrong with 6:26 left. LA outshot Dallas, 16-6 in the third.
The Aftermath: The game led into the Olympic Break. Dallas went 11-3-0 after it, going on win its seventh division title in nine seasons.

Exhibit C) November 10, 2007. The Stars lead, 4-0, with just over seven minutes remaining in regulation. But the Kings scored four goals in a span of 3:11 to tie it and scored another to take a 5-4 lead just two minutes later. Mike Modano (somehow) tied the game again with 1:05 left in regulation before Anze Kopitar scored midway through OT to win it, 6-5.
The Aftermath: Doug Armstrong is relieved of his duties three days later. The Stars go 6-0-1 in their next seven games to jump back in the race.

So have faith Stars fans. History tends to repeat itself.  A win tonight at Anaheim would give the Stars five points out of six on a three-game swing; and that’s huge after a five-game losing streak.

On a side note, I’d like to personally thank Sharks goalie Brian Boucher for his error last night on the slow hopper to short:

His gaffe gave Minnesota a 3-3 tie late in the third that the Wild would eventually win in overtime. Let’s just say that Boucher won’t be pushing Elvis Andrus for playing time at Rangers Ballpark this season.
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