Monday, May 05, 2008

Marathon men

Two complete games were not enough to declare a winner in game six of the Western semi final between Dallas and San Jose, so they played one more period or part of one to settle things in Dallas on Sunday night.

In a game that moved into the top ten as far as longest games played in NHL history, the Stars finally found the shot that would end the game and as things turned out the series with the Sharks. Sunday nights epic contest will be now known as number eight until another one comes along to drop it down a notch.

Brendan Morrow, the Stars captain converted a power play opportunity at the nine minute mark of the fourth overtime to deflect a Stephane Robidas pass in behind Evginy Nabokov, sealing the 2-1 victory for the Stars.

In a rare lapse of defensive positioning, the Dallas captain was left unattended in front of Nabokov receiving the puck from Roibdas easily into the net, unleashing a wave of relief and celebration for the home side and frustration and disappointment for the ever the just short Sharks.

The goaltending was outstanding at both ends of the rink, with Marty Turco robbing the Sharks time and time again and Nabokov slamming the door shut whenever Dallas made a rush down the ice.

117 shots on goal were made by the two teams, San Jose directing 62 of them at Turco while the Stars fired 55 at Nabokov, both goaltenders wowed the crowd with their ability to focus on the task at hand well beyond what was a normal tour of duty.

It was the fourth overtime game of the series, though the previous three were short-lived affairs ending within the first five minutes of the first OT, Sunday’s was more of a long protracted war, where little battles were won and then the two sides would rest up for the next assault into enemy territory.

San Jose by all rights most likely should have been taking this one back to the Tank for a game seven, they had far too many opportunities to score that they couldn’t convert, a common theme for them during the course of the playoffs.

While many will remember their efforts in game six, the result is still maddening for supporters of the Sharks who have seen their fish put away their teeth whenever they get close to a Stanley Cup run. It’s doubtful that Sunday’s effort will be enough to delay what seem to be the necessary changes required for this team to make the next step in the playoff progression.

Dallas almost let the Sharks back into the run, a win on Sunday would have sent all the momentum from Dallas’ early playoff wins in this series back to the Sharks, a sign that the Stars are still seeking out the ability to put a team away for good.

They had best hope that they can find it for the next series, Detroit as powerful as they have been in this playoff run will gladly take any opportunity the Stars provide to make the series a short and time conscious affair.

The Stars are fortunate in that they have four days now to rest and recover from Sunday’s marathon game; they open up the Western final in Detroit on Friday evening.

CBC Sports-- Stars advance on strength of two leaders
National Post-- Morrow knocks out Sharks in fourth OT
ESPN-- The marathon men
Dallas Morning News-- To Morrow: Dallas Stars captain closes
Dallas Morning News-- Extra special: Dallas Stars win 4-OT thriller
Fort Worth Star Telegram-- Marathon victory lands Dallas Stars in NHL West Finals
Fort Worth Star Telegram-- Turco slams door on the Sharks
San Jose Mercury News-- Oh, what a night for the Sharks
San Jose Mercury News-- Bitter end: Sharks eliminated from playoffs in 4 OTs
San Francicso Chronicle-- Sharks go down fighting
. Stats Pack

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