Mac Engel

April 23, 2014

Stars hold up their end by rallying to defeat Ducks

The Stars complete a perfect sports day by rallying to beat the Ducks and tie the first-round playoff series.

The burden fell to the Dallas Stars to complete the Perfect Sports Day.

By the start of the third period of the Stars’ Game 4 against the Anaheim Ducks the following had already occurred:

The Rangers swept the A’s, with Martin Perez doing what Martin Perez does — throw shutouts.

The Dallas Cowboys won the 2014 NFL regular-season schedule release championship.

The Mavericks defeated the Spurs for the first time in 873 games.

The Stars closed out this rare grandest slam out by rallying to defeat the Ducks 4-2 on Wednesday night at the Monopoly Airlines Center.

Short of real titles or parades, the wise move is to enjoy such days.

The Stars may be the eight seed, and the Ducks the one, but the wiser move is to simply ignore those little numbers.

The better, and deeper, team in this best-of-seven Western Conference first-round series has been the one with the eight in front of it, and the older goalie in net.

“It feels like a series now,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said.

A series that figures to get plenty ugly shortly.

The Stars are in the Ducks’ heads, which was never more apparent than after the final horn sounded and three separate scrums broke out on the ice as confetti dropped.

No 1-seed should be losing its mind in Game 4 and throwing punches after the game.

Five things to note:

1. The Stars drew a huge break before Game 4 when the Ducks announced that forward Ryan Getzlaf would miss the game with an “upper-body injury,” which could well mean he has a torn left quad.

Getzlaf played Games 2 and 3 with a giant mask after he took a puck to the face, and suffered a broken jaw, in Game 1.

This is one of the best players in the world, and the Ducks look lost without him.

Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau would not say whether the injury is as a result of some of the action Getzlaf’s face took during Game 3 when both he and the coach accused the Stars of targeting his injured jaw.

2. Playing at home has been a tremendous advantage for the Stars.

Ruff is able to match lines the way he prefers, and specifically throw skating dogs Cody Eakin, Antoine Roussel, and Ryan Garbutt against the Ducks’ best forwards — Getzlaf and Corey Perry.

Perry, like Getzlaf a member of the 2014 Canadian Olympic team, was just about worthless Wednesday night against the Eakin-Roussel-Garbutt line.

Roussel is quickly becoming a favorite as he has assumed the “pest” tradition.

It says something when Perry lost his nerve late in the third period and elected to fight Roussel, which he lost.

3. The advantage in net now clearly favors the Stars.

Entering this series the Stars were thought to have the advantage with veteran Kari Lehtonen over rookie Frederik Andersen. It didn’t play out that way after Games 1 and 2, but Boudreau officially hit the “I Hate This Guy” button when he yanked Andersen in the third period in favor of veteran Jonas Hiller.

Don’t worry you don’t know either of their names; just know that Boudreau said after Game 4 he has not made up his mind who will start in net in Game 5 in Anaheim.

The fact that Boudreau is even considering making this change, which bet heavily he will, is not good if you are Anaheim.

Confident teams aren’t playing roulette with their goalies in a playoff series that is tied at two.

The Stars have no such questions about Lehtonen.

4. Stars center Jamie Benn is the best player in this series.

With the Stars trailing 2-0 to start the second period, Benn scored another goal — his third of the series.

These playoffs are merely a continuation of what he did in the regular season, and the Winter Olympics for Team Canada. The Ducks can’t handle his line.

5. The MAC feels like a genuine home-ice advantage. The place has rocked in Games 3 and 4; early in the second period after Benn scored the momentum shift had a tangible feel.

It should be more so when the series returns for Game 6.

By the time the game ended, and the Ducks pouted their way to the dressing room after having it handed to them in the final two periods, it was the unofficial end to a spectacular sports day.

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