The Dallas Stars have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs for over a week now, but the season wasn’t quite over for Mike Modano. Last night, in the last home game of the season, the Stars played host to the Anaheim Ducks in a game that will be remembered by Stars fans for a very long time.
The first period went scoreless, but the Ducks broke the scoring with a goal by Bobby Ryan in the second period. Six minutes later, Mike Modano took the puck behind the Ducks net and did a saucer-back hand pass to Jere Lehtinen through two Ducks defenders. Lehtinen then fed it through the slot to Jamie Benn to even up the game.
Fifteen minutes into the third period, Bobby Ryan struck again in the night of number nines. It was a powerplay one-timer from the far side corner after a beautiful cross ice feed from Corey Perry. With under two minutes to play, Mike Modano was not to be outdone. Modano freed up the puck in the corner, brought it around behind the net, fed it to the point, and a long shot was deflected high into the air in a sea of traffic. It would then float down by Modano in front of the net, where he tipped it home blocker side. A video review would be needed, and the goal would stand. The game was tied.
In the overtime frame, Modano would come flying down the ice as he normally did and connect on a beautiful pass to the slot, but Daley could not bury it low, short side on Hiller. Overtime would solve nothing.
After neither team could score in the first round of the shootout, Modano was up. He came down the ice with speed through the slot and fired a wrist shot off the post and in glove side on Hiller. The shot was a bullet. Moments later, Lehtinen would shoot for a chance to end the game. He came down the ice with speed as well, hit the slot and went high, blocker side for the shootout win.
The three stars would be announced, and as expected, Modano was the first star of the game. A long standing ovation on “Fan Appreciation Night” in Texas would leave Modano in tears on the ice, waiving to the fans in likely his last home game of his career.
Some players just know the right way to go.
Micheal A. Aldred