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O'Callahan: Gotta Regroup

by Seamus O'Callahan / Dallas Stars

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Wow, that was a shocker. The Stars had a golden opportunity to wrap up their second round series with the San Jose Sharks on Friday night and it slipped through their fingers.

Seamus O'Callahan
Bottom line: win Game Six at home on Sunday. It’s as simple as that.

I’m on-site at HP Pavilion. The team was gracious enough to find me a seat on the plane and in the press box for Game Five on Friday evening.

Dallas’ mastering of the third period in these playoffs has disappeared in the last two games – a trend that the Stars must stop if they are to win this series and continue on to the Western Conference Finals.

Jere Lehtinen’s power play goal in the early minutes of the second period gave Dallas a 1-0 lead. This series has been weird, with the team that has scored the first goal of the contest losing every game. Unfortunately for the Stars that trend continued.

The Stars took a 2-0 lead into the third period that evaporated in less than five minutes on goals by Milan Michalek and Brian Campbell. It could have and should have been worse for the Sharks by that time, but two disallowed goals gave San Jose new life and an opportunity to come back and win the game in overtime.

Brenden Morrow almost had a hat trick, appearing to score three times but only one would end up counting on the scoreboard. He appeared to have scored a goal in both the second and the third and then both were taken away.

It should have been 2-0 Stars with 4:29 left in the second period but the NHL review room in Toronto ruled “Video review at 15:31 of the second period determined that the puck was kicked by Morrow’s back skate – there was a distinct kicking motion - no goal.”

But fittingly, Brenden bounced back with a goal in the final minute of the period and there was no doubt this one counted.

Then Morrow was ruled to have pushed the puck into the net five minutes into the third period, a call that the referee made with his naked eye. Replays showed it did hit his glove, but a crosscheck to his back was partly to blame for that. That penalty went uncalled.

Either one of those goals stand and (all things being equal) Dallas would have had a 3-0 lead in the third – probably an insurmountable lead at that.

The San Jose Sharks would not go quietly into the night. Their two tallies sent the arena into a frenzy (this was a very loud building, by the way – a fun place to watch a game), and the Stars had to weather some Sharks momentum to just get to overtime.

The Sharks made a determined effort to go after the win early, pinching their defenseman and staying aggressive.

“Dallas came out at us pretty hard in their two overtime wins while we were being patient and waiting for them to make a mistake,” said Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson afterwards. “We made a decision to be aggressive early in the overtime and go for a quick goal. As it turned out we were able to score on the first shift.”

Joe Pavelski’s goal just 1:05 into OT sealed the deal and sent the series back to Dallas.

Everyone said before this series started that it would go six or seven games. It was going to be a long one. The early indications were that it might be over early. But we’re going a minimum of six games now, and if you think about it – it is not surprising.

Every game has been tight and plays in the third period and overtime have decided the games. Now the Stars are focusing on Sunday’s Game Six and are not interested in going back to San Jose for a deciding Game Seven.

“Our focus does not change – the only game that matters is the next one,” said Stars Head Coach Dave Tippett. “We want to win Game Six on Sunday and that’s where we are.”

No one said this was going to be easy (the Stanley Cup Playoffs never are).

If I were to have told you before the series that Dallas would have a chance to win the series in Game Six at home, we all would have taken that. Well, that’s what we have.

Game Five was a great game (all of the games in this series have been). Sunday’s will be too. If you don’t have your tickets, get ‘em now. There were approximately 1,500 tickets available at press time and you can get yours by clicking right here.

See you Sunday. Bring the noise.

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