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O'Callahan: Do You Like Apples?

by Seamus O'Callahan / Dallas Stars
“Do you like apples?
“Well I got her number. How you like them apples?!”

- Will Hunting

Wow, that was impressive. Another win in a Game Two on the road. Another big third period to do it.

What can you say about the 2008 post-season version of the Dallas Stars? I’m running out of words but I will continue to try.

The Stars have clearly used third period performances to power themselves towards wins in the post-season. Dallas has outscored the opposition in the eight playoff third periods (and one overtime) by a combined score of 17-5.

Sunday’s third period featured four Dallas goals to San Jose’s none, and the story was Brad Richards, who factored in all four of them.

Richards got things started just 32 seconds into the third with a goal that tied the score at 2-2, taking advantage of a miscue by Joe Pavelski in his own zone. Dallas entered the third in a good position with every reason to have confidence. And once Richards scored, the confidence on the bench ballooned.

Seamus O'Callahan
Then Dallas finally got a 1:00 power play (albeit after two of the worst calls in the history of man – a tripping call on Mike Modano and a holding call on Christian Ehrhoff). I hate that about this league – you can always predict who and when the next power play will be called against.

When Modano got out of the box, he took a pass from Richards on the rush and sent the puck into the crease and a maze of bodies. The puck bounced out to Sergei Zubov (remember him?), who made a fantastic no-look backhand pass back to Modano who roofed it to give the Stars the lead, 3-2.

Richards’ best play might have been on the next goal, Niklas Hagman’s first of the playoffs with 6:05 left in regulation. Richards flew in down the left-hand boards, past Marc Vlasic and going behind the net. He threw a quick back pass to a driving Hagman, who buried it for the all-important insurance goal.

Then Richards got a helper and a four-point night (and period) with Hagman’s empty-netter to seal it. Despite Richards’ efforts, he did not factor into the three stars (but that topic is for another column…).

“Brad was great tonight. The four unanswered goals in the third were huge and we were able to be patient and stick to the game plan,” said Modano.

Of course the Stars would not have been in a position to come back if not for solid goaltending by Marty Turco once again. He foiled some prime scoring chances, especially on three power plays in the first period, and kept the Stars within striking distance.

“Marty was huge and he was our best penalty killer tonight,” said Mike Ribeiro. (How about Ribs’ goal from behind the goal line? What a shot.)

So now it’s back to Dallas with a 2-0 series lead. The Stars remember this position well from the Anaheim series. San Jose is going to pour everything into Game Three and attempt to get back in the series, just like the Ducks did. The Stars know this is not even close to being over.

“It’s huge to be up 2-0, a big trip for us, but we need to carry the momentum home,” said Modano. “It’s a long way from over and we have to stay focused and hungry.”

More Historical Numbers on Winning a Game Two
In NHL history, the team that has won Game Two of a seven-game playoff series has gone on to win the series 71.4% of the time. In the 524 seven-game series completed in league history, 374 were won by the team that was victorious in Game Two (including going 7-1 during this year's first round). In Stars playoff history, the team has a 13-7 overall series record when winning Game Two. Dallas is 9-2 in their last 11 playoff series when winning Game Two. Since 1998, Dallas is 14-6 in 19 Game Twos.

Teams that have taken a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven NHL playoff series have gone on to win the series 87% of the time.

Three of the four semifinal series have one team leading 2-0 after two games. Only the Stars have won both of theirs on the road.

San Jose Success
Why do the Stars have such good success in San Jose? Your guess is as good as mine. The crowd is one of the best (if not the best) in the league, but in the Stars’ case, they actually feed off it. Anyway, Sunday’s win gives the Stars an 8-0-1 record in their last nine games in HP Pavilion.

Can we play Games Three and Four there too?

Game-Winning Mo
Modano pulled even with Jaromir Jagr and Peter Forsberg for third in game-winning playoff goals among active players with his 14th on Sunday night. Colorado’s Joe Sakic leads that bunch with 19. I wouldn’t mind seeing Joe add to his lead in their Game Three in Denver.

Tickets Going Fast
My ticket guru and tennis partner Colin Faulkner just texted me info on tickets for the next two games. Tuesday’s Game Three has about 600 tickets remaining (all upstairs), while Wednesday’s Game Four has 400 tickets remaining. Get yours by clicking here before they are all gone. There’s room on the bandwagon, but only so many tickets.
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