Dallas Stars forward Cody Eakin got his shot at a second chance Wednesday.
That redemptive opportunity resulted in the Stars’ game-winning third goal in a 4-2 Game 4 win over the Anaheim Ducks, giving the Stars a second chance at their opening-round series.
With just ticks under 19 minutes left in the game and the score tied at 2, Eakin came slashing in on the left side of the Ducks’ goal and fired a wrister to the opposite post that clanked off the iron.
Five minutes later, Eakin found himself in nearly the same position, but this time he buried the shot to the far side, giving the Stars a lead they would never give up.
“It was nice to have redemption,” Eakin said.
The goal ultimately redeemed the Stars from a lackluster first period that saw the Ducks jump out to a two-goal lead on a shot from the point by Ducks defenseman Bryan Allen and a deflection off the stick of Patrick Maroon that trickled just past Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen and over the goal line.
“I thought we got outworked. I thought we weren’t playing smart enough and it was our turn to answer and I think that group in there answered the bell,” Stars head coach Lindy Ruff said.
It was the Stars captain that began a rally of four unanswered goals by creating an opportunity for himself and finishing. Off a neutral zone faceoff, Jamie Benn pushed the puck forward on the win and ripped a snap shot on Ducks’ goaltender Frederik Andersen.
“Our captain ignited us and we started skating and playing the way we wanted to,” Eakin said. “We started transitioning and going off of it.”
The Stars would net one more before the second intermission ended when forward Vernon Fiddler flipped a shot from a tough angle off the shoulder of Andersen and into the net.
After the Eakin goal, Dallas finished the scoring with a shot from the slot by defenseman Alex Goligoski that found its way past Andersen, for his last action of the night. In the timeout after the goal, Andersen was pulled in favor of Jonas Hiller, who saw his first action of the series.
Dallas capitalized on an opportunity as they played a Ducks squad without Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf, who was listed as day-to-day with an upper body injury shortly before the opening faceoff. Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said it was “a previous injury aggravated.”
Getzlaf took a slap shot to the face in Game 1 of the series and has worn a chin protector on his helmet. In Game 3, he took a few punches to the face from Stars forward Antoine Roussel in a post-whistle scrum.
After the game Wednesday, Boudreau would not comment on whether the Roussel scrum was the cause of Getzlaf’s absence Wednesday.
Dallas returns to Anaheim for Game 5 of the series on Friday, and the Stars assured another home playoff game Sunday with Wednesday’s victory.
After dropping the first two games of the series in Anaheim, Dallas gained new life and ultimately creating a best-of-three miniseries to advance.
“I really feel like we’re in a playoff series now,” Ruff said. “The first couple of games didn’t feel like it, but now we feel like we have a playoff series.”