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Stars Narrowly Miss Playoffs but are Moving in Right Directions
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Langenbrunner looks to pass deep in the Ducks' zone.
Coming off of a 3-2 shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, the Dallas Stars faced an equally difficult challenge when they played the Anaheim Ducks on March 23rd. Alex Goligoski scored on the power-play and later Loui Eriksson found the net in this back-and-forth battle. Trevor Daley's third period goal appeared to have given Dallas the victory but Teemu Selanne tied the game with just seven seconds left before regulation. An odd-man break resulted in Cam Fowler's overtime-winning goal as the Ducks prevailed 4-3.

Head coach Marc Crawford felt the Stars were victims of hard luck on Selanne's goal. "It's a tough one, but also just a horrendous break," he explained. "The puck comes around, it hits the referee, and comes right to their guy. So what can you do? You don't plan for the referee to be in the way, and he doesn't plan to be there. So we got a horrendous break with five seconds to go that had nothing to do with the play."

The Stars then began a five-game road trip that began in Nashville against the Predators. Goligoski's power-play streak continued as he got Dallas out to an early lead. Nashville struck back with two unanswered goals before Brenden Morrow's odd deflection caromed into the Predators' net. The Stars were unable to come back after Mike Fisher scored his second goal of the night and David Legwand sealed the 4-2 defeat with an empty-net goal.

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After a Lehtonen save on the Coyotes' Pyatt, Langenbrunner swoops in to clear the puck.
Next up on Dallas' schedule was the Phoenix Coyotes and the two teams played a very tight game at the Arena. David Schlemko finally opened the game's scoring in the second period as Phoenix but Jamie Benn evened the affair before the second intermission. It was the result of a great puck movement from Jamie Langenbrunner and Stephane Robidas who cycled the puck to set up Benn's finish. Despite the Stars heavily out-shooting the Coyotes, 45-27 a winner couldn't be found as the game ventured to the shootout. Benn scored in the shootout before Ray Whitney put Phoenix ahead. Eriksson had the chance to equalize but was saved by Ilya Bryzgalov as the Coyotes won 2-1.

It was a night to forget at the HP Pavilion as the San Jose Sharks downed the Stars in a 6-0 result. Dallas' tough luck continued when they entered the Staples Center on Saturday. Langenbrunner struck the post in the first period and a few odd bounces didn't go the Stars' way. Brad Richards ended up scoring the lone Dallas goal in 3-1 loss that could have turned out much differently.

A day later, the Stars put in an inspired performance to halt a six-game losing skid when they faced the Anaheim Ducks. It was a high-scoring first period as the two teams netted two goals apiece with Jeff Woywitka and Mike Ribeiro collecting Dallas goals. As Langenbrunner came along the side boards, he found Morrow who blistered a one-timer past Ducks' goalie Emery to regain their 3-2 lead. The goal completed a three-point night for the Stars' captain along with his earlier two assists.

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Langenbrunner looks to attack the rebound after the Ducks' Emery makes a save.
Ribeiro claimed his second goal of the contest when he jammed in a rebound to increase Dallas' lead to 4-2. Corey Perry later scored a shorthanded goal late in the second period to put Anaheim back within a goal of tying. Twice in the third period, the Ducks believed they found an equalizing goal only to be denied in both instances as both goals were waived off. They pressured the Stars throughout the third period with twelve shots on goal but Kari Lehtonen stood tall as his efforts preserved a 4-3 victory.

Crawford was pleased the resiliency of his team. "We've been through it a couple of times against the Ducks, and our guys were very determined to not let it happen. Full marks to our guys, I'm really proud of how they played," he remarked.

The Stars' good fortune continued when they returned to the American Airlines Center on April 5th to meet the Columbus Blue Jackets. The writing was on the wall and the Stars had to snap their seven-game losing skid. Steve Ott's power-play goal got Dallas off the right start just five minutes into the first period but by no means would this be an easy victory. The Stars fought hard over the next two periods to maintain their 1-0 lead until the very end as Eriksson and Morrow collected empty net goals. Kari Lehtonen was superb all night as he preserved the shutout.

Ott delivered a rallying cry post-game. "Our desperation's obviously the highest it's been all year," he said. "This team's resilience, the character that we've had all year on this team, we've had that underdog mentality all season. Everyone around the league, from the media to the league to our own fans have put this team down and for us, we've prided ourselves to be a team that competes every game. Right now it's do or die and we handled it appropriately tonight. We've got three big, huge ones left and it's going to be that one-game-at-a-time mentality until we see where the chips fall at the end."
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