Stars may have lost the Cup, but put up a fight to the very end

Natalie McLaren, Eyes on Owls Section Editor

Not everyone can be a star all the time. The NHL Dallas Stars, Western Conference Champions, couldn’t take home the Stanley Cup this year, and they are definitely tasting bitter defeat. But did they give up along the way? Nope. Let’s take a recap of how they got to the Finals in the first place.


Their matchup for the Western Conference Finals was the Vegas Golden Knights, the number one team in the Western Conference. Dallas did not have it easy, and although Dallas won the first game and got the 1-0 lead in the series, it wasn’t enough. Vegas had to get a spot in the series, somehow, so game two resulted in a series tie of 1-1, a single game per team. It was anyone’s game now. The Stars used some quality play, lucky penalties, and teamwork to clinch the Western Conference four games to one. But would pure luck get them the Stanley Cup? Not when your opposition is the Tampa Bay Lightning. But hey, wait a minute, who is the Tampa Bay Lightning?


The Tampa Bay Lightning, Eastern Conference had been steamrolling over every matchup they had encountered. Their Eastern Conference opponents, the New York Islanders, put up a fight in game five and forced Tampa Bay to make an overtime win game six. Although the Islanders did put them off, lightning struck and lit the place aflame, sending the Islanders off to no-man’s-land, and without a Conference Championship. A solid team, they were sure to give Dallas a run for their money. And that’s exactly what they did, however, it took them the first two periods of game one to flip the switch.

The Dallas Stars felt confident, pumped, and ready to take on the Lightning, despite the skill of their opponents. Game one of the Stanley Cup Finals worked in the Stars’ favor as they skated onto foreign ice. With a 4-1 victory over the Lightning, “Stars” of the night including Joel Hanley, Joel Kiviranta, Jason Dickinson, and Jamie Oleksiak got game-clinching goals. Yani Gourde of the Tampa Bay Lightning got the one and only goal from Tampa Bay that night, but what he did that night was just the beginning. There was still much more to come.


Maybe the first two periods of game one were showstopping on the Star’s part, but one could see the struggle arising during period three. The third period consisted of Tampa Bay cracking down, wanting goals. The shots on net in the period totaled to more than the first two periods combined, but Stars’ goalie Anton Khudobin showed up in the third period and saved the team from defeat. But the goalie wouldn’t be sparing them every time. And Dallas knew it.


Game two was taken by Tampa in a rush to tie the series. The rundown of this game looked a lot like the third period of game one. Tampa Bay hustled all over the ice to get a total of three pucks in the net in the first period alone. The first by Brayden Point, followed by Ondrej Palat, and Kevin Shattenkirk. That left Dallas with quite a bit of skating to do if they were going to catch up. The two goals scored by Dallas that night were from legend Joe Pavelski, and Mattias Janmark. But even the valiant efforts from these two players couldn’t make up for the three scored by Tampa Bay. Although they came close, the score ended up being 3-2, tying the series 1-1. It was anyone’s series now.


Tampa Bay seemed more to the point and to the puck in the next two games of the series. Fans of the Dallas Stars calling games three and four “embarrassments”, these were not shining moments for the team. Game three, the long-time captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning made an appearance for a little under 3 minutes in the game. But in those three months, he went from not being on the ice for months at a time due to injury, to scoring a goal for his team in the Stanley Cup Finals. Pretty crazy, right? This looked to be a turning point for Tampa Bay. Their captain had come back on the ice. Kicked up some major snow. Like a bunch of little kids watching their buddy do something cool, they wanted to do the same thing. So, that is indeed what they did. Game three was a big loss for Dallas, putting Tampa Bay ahead in the series 2-1 with an end score of 5-2. Brayden Point scoring two goals, the Lightning only had two wins left until the cup was theirs, not leaving Dallas much time to breathe, much less catch up.


Game four was the same game, except for a closer score. This game went to an OT win for the Lightning 5-4, but not by much. This game was full of bad penalties for the Stars, and the refs, judging by the fans’ reactions, were Tampa Bay swayed. Kevin Shattenkirk put the game away in the first OT, leaving the Stars to catch up from a 3-1 series lead.


Game five, however, was an interesting story. Tampa Bay had the opportunity to cash in on the cup that night. It could’ve been theirs. Game four on Friday, September 25th, game six took place on Saturday, September 26th. This back-to-back lineup was not ideal for either team, but Dallas finally got a win and pushed off the cup for a later time, with a double OT win of 3-2. Joe Pavelski and Corey Perry on the Stars had one goal each going into OT, and by the looks of the play, it seemed as if the urgency was clear to both. Nicknamed Scorey Perry, Corey Perry helped the dimmed Stars out with a double OT goal resulting from a frenzy at the Tampa Bay net. But none of the Stars fans cared about the frenzy at the net, only about the puck sitting at the back of the net. Dallas would take it to a game six. Would they come back to win the cup?


Unfortunately, the answer was no. With no goals in game six, Tampa Bay took home the cup on Monday, September 28th. There were some opportunities for scoring on both teams, but in the end, Tampa Bay cashed in. Upset from the loss, the Stars were forced to travel back to Dallas with no cup in hand. But there was nothing to be ashamed about.


During the course of the past year, they had lost their previous head coach, Jim Montgomery, and gained an Interim Head Coach, Rick Bowness, in the process. With multiple injuries stacking up in the playoffs alone, they were forced to play the final games of the Stanley Cup Finals without the necessary aid of penalty killers, Radek Faksa, Blake Comeau, and Roope Hintz. With the number of minutes in the box piling up, the number of losses reflected on the gameplay and resulted in defeat.


Despite the Cup absent from the Stars’ return, the “Go Green” fans are still proud of the journey. Stars fans, including myself, are optimistic as well as encouraged for the future of our Texas team. If they were able to make it this far without some key players on their lineup, there must be a bright future for the team. Braxton Baker, whom I spoke with about the Stars making the Finals, has some suggestions for the team as well as some praise for the level of play. “They played an awesome series! I didn’t know what was going to happen, and I think they have a chance at being back here next season.” Although the MVP for the Tampa Bay Lightning was Victor Hedman, I had to ask Braxton who he would’ve nominated for the Stars’ MVP. “I would have to do Miro Heiskanen, just because he got so many assists and played a great game.” Maybe this year didn’t come in the form of a win, but the Stars have nothing to hang their head about. They are a resilient team, and they’ll be back.


Shine bright, starlight. Go green. Go Stars.