Tonight's loss could have stung a lot worse for the Stars. While a two-goal third period could not salvage Game 3, it may have just saved the series.
When Brenden Morrow scored his second goal of the third period to bring the score to the eventual final of 4-2, the Dallas crowd powered up. The Stars became more aggressive along with their more realistic chance to complete a comeback. While the four-goal comeback fell short, the surge sent a message to the Anaheim Ducks:
The Stars will not be rolling over.
Dallas still holds a 2-1 series lead. A loss tonight is not a catastrophe thanks to sweeping the opening two games at Honda Center. But had tonight's loss been by the demoralizing score of 4-0, I think the mentality of the team would be at a much lower point going into Game 4. Because the Stars made a late charge to bring the deficit to two, the Stars should gain some confident and momentum that will carry over from tonight's final period into the opening moment of Thursday's game.
When the puck drops in 45 hours, the Stars should come out strong. The Ducks still have some momentum from winning Game 3, but when Anaheim called their timeout after Dallas pulled within two, it sent a message to not only the Stars but the crowd at the Double-A C. The Ducks needed to find a band-aid to stop the third-period bleeding. They found it when they killed a four-minute penalty late in the game, but the panicky timeout represented the fear Anaheim had of letting things get more out of control.
Come Thursday, we'll see who takes control by winning the game and going on to win this opening-round series. The Game 4 winner will go on to take this series. If the Ducks win, it's 2-2, and all the good work Dallas did by winning twice in Anaheim is ancient history. A win for Dallas, and the Stars go up 3-1 with three chances to put away the Stanley Cup champions.