Monday, May 05, 2008

Save me! Game 6: Stars win 2-1 (4OT)

I arrived at a sports bar - the only one in this area of North Orange County that actually got the Versus network - at 5:45pm Pacific time to watch Game 6 between the Stars and Sharks. By the time Brenden Morrow scored the game-winning goal, the clock read 11:34pm. The eighth-longest game in NHL history proved to be worth the wait for Dallas, as the Stars advanced to the conference finals with a 2-1, 4OT victory at American Airlines Center.

Marty Turco was simply outstanding. While Evgeni Nabokov's glove save on Brad Richards just above the line (way back in OT #1) was spectacular, the kick-save Turco made at the other end equaled Nabokov's brilliance. When hockey broadcasters use the phrase "kick save" they typically mean the goalie flinched his leg to deflect a puck traveling closer to the ice than a higher shot. This was truly a KICK save. Marty rivaled the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders as he shot his right leg into the air to halt a shot midway through the first OT.

Shot after shot, Turco simply turned the Sharks away, stopping a franchise-record 61 shots on goal.

The two unquestioned leaders for this Dallas team during the post season - Morrow and Turco - proved to be the catalyst for advancing. I still can't decide which was bigger: Morrow's game-winning goal or his jaw-shattering hit on Machalak just before the end of regulation. Machalak might have the outline of that "C" imprinted on his face after Morrow sent him to the ice. Morrow simply destroyed him, and then followed up the hit - only an hour and nine minutes of ice time later - with the series clincher.

There was a lot of talk about how the Stars needed to win tonight or else they would have blown their 3-0 series lead and had to play game seven back in San Jose to decide the series. Turns out the Stars and Sharks ended up playing a seventh game, and even got 9:03 into an eighth before Morrow closed out the conference semifinals series with his goal.

Fortunately the Stars will have some time to regroup - and just plain sleep - before they start their conference finals series against the hated Detroit Red Wings on Thursday in Motown. (conference finals schedules)

Conference Semifinals Recap:
Game 1 - STARS 3, Sharks 2 (OT)
Game 2 - STARS 5, Sharks 2
Game 3 - Sharks 1, STARS 2 (OT)
Game 4 - SHARKS 2, Stars 1
Game 5 - Stars 2, SHARKS 3 (OT)
Game 6 - Sharks 1, STARS 2 (4OT)

** Looking at this series, it's very comforting to know the Stars earned three of their four wins in overtime, including the marathon last night/this morning. That ability to close out games in OT will definitely work to their advantage as the playoffs continue.

By the way, in looking to the NBA, the Boston Celtics proved why it's always nice to have home court/ice/field advantage in the playoffs. While it's never a good idea to lose three games to a team that you're expected to sweep, the C's simply held serve four times in this opening round series to advance to Round 2. And frankly that's all they need to do. It's foolish to think they can win an NBA title by only winning at home and losing each road game, but this does show the benefit of a higher seed.

Boston doesn't have to worry about NEEDING to win a road game. It would certainly help, and all those Celtics fans could probably sleep better at night. But it's not a necessity. So when a top seed like the C's do win on the road, it's really just icing on the cake.

The Stars - the underdog in each series thus far - have been fortunate enough to open each of their first two series with consecutive road wins. It's safe to say that will be a much tougher task going to Detroit. Once again, if the Stars can simply steal on game in Motown, they own home ice advantage the rest of the way. The Red Wings task is a much simpler one: just defend Joe Louis Arena while - if possible - also taking a game in Dallas.

The puck drops for Game 1 of Detroit/Dallas on Thursday. The Dallas Stars are only four wins away from the Stanley Cup Finals. Just knowing that will make it easier for me to sleep tonight - which is nice considering how late the game ended.

No comments:

Hit Counter

Everyone's visiting the NO JOSHIN' blog. Tell your friends to take a look!
Hit Counter