The Dallas Stars overcame the shock of seeing a teammate collapse on their bench, and were able to skate around the unbounded joy resulting from a colorful jersey retirement ceremony of the franchise’s finest player to win three straight games and strengthen their hold on what would be the franchise’s first post season berth in six years.
The three victories (one game was postponed with no make-up date announced) gives Dallas a record of 32-23-10 for 74 points, one point ahead of 9th place Phoenix and just three points behind the 7th place Minnesota Wild.
The Stars overcame the trauma of seeing teammate Rich Peverley collapse on the bench the previous evening with what was termed a “heart related incident” in the 1st period of a home game against Columbus to upend host St. Louis on Tuesday, March 11. Captain Jamie Benn’s wrist shot from the right circle with 1:18 left in overtime gave the Stars a 3-2 win over the NHL-leading Blues. Benn beat goalie Ryan Miller high on the short side for the Stars’ first victory over St. Louis in three meetings this season.
“Today was a new day and we were thinking about (Peverley) back home, but we were able to do a good job and get mentally ready for this game,” Benn said. “It was not easy. It hit our guys pretty good last night. We did a great job as a group coming here and getting two points against a tough opponent.”
“The veterans in (Stars’ dressing room) deserve a lot of credit for this,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “That leadership in the room is the one thing that pushed us through.
“I texted (Rich Peverley) right after it was over and he responded,” Ruff added. “He was happy. He said, ‘Keep rolling and we’ll see you tomorrow’.”
The Blues did set a franchise record by earning a point in their 20th consecutive game (18-0-2) against Central Division opponents, surpassing their 15-0-4 mark in the West Division in 1968-69, when games ended in ties without overtime.
Forward Antoine Roussel’s 11th goal gave Dallas a 2-1 lead early in the 3rd period. Winger Colton Sceviour, recalled earlier on Tuesday from the AHL’s Texas Stars to replace Peverley, tied the game at 1-1with his 4th goal of the year when he converted a rebound of Alex Goligoski’s one-timer from the right point in the final minute of the opening period. Goalie Tim Thomas stopped 28 shots in his second start after being acquired from Florida at the NHL Trade Deadline. Thomas was also the starter in Monday’s postponed game with Columbus.
Peverley Collapses, Stars-Blue Jackets Game Postponed
The Stars were trailing visiting Columbus 1-0 less than halfway through the 1st period on Monday, March 10 when forward Rich Peverley collapsed on the team’s bench after finishing a shift on the ice. The Stars’ bench erupted as players started banging their sticks and everyone on the bench started yelling to get the attention of the on-ice officials to stop the game.
Peverley was taken to a nearby hospital and is listed in stable condition. Doctors said that Peverley had a heart related incident. “We successfully treated him for a cardiac event with standard therapy,” said Dr. Gil Salazar of University of Texas Southwestern Emergency Medicine. “We provided oxygen for him. We started an IV. We did chest compressions on him and defibrillated him, provided some electricity to bring a rhythm back to his heart, and that was successful with one attempt, which is very reassuring.
“As soon as we treated him he regained consciousness,” Dr. Salazar added. “He was alert and talking to us after the event and quickly got transported to the hospital. I was actually able to talk to him in the back of the ambulance; he was able to tell me where he was and wanted to get back into the game.”
Peverley has a history of with heart issues. A physical prior to training camp revealed that the 31-year-old Peverley had an irregular heartbeat, a condition that Dr. Salazar said is a “quivering of the heart that does not allow him to send blood to places where he needs to, in his brain and heart.”
Peverley underwent a procedure in Cleveland, Ohio in September and missed all of camp, the preseason and the first regular season game. He missed last Tuesday’s game in Columbus due to the heart-related issue. Stars team doctors say Peverley’s condition had been closely monitored all season.
Physicians say it’s too early to determine what the long-term outlook for Peverley is right now. He’ll be evaluated in the days ahead. “Once there’s a cardiac event like this, it becomes a matter of trying to find a cause and addressing it,” said Dr. Salazar. “What this does to the future, it’s hard to say. There are many causes for this and the doctors at UT Southwestern will do extensive testing to rule out major causes of it and address them accordingly.”
“I was scared,” said Stars coach Lindy Russ. “My first emotion was we need somebody here real quick. When he dropped, it was red alert, don’t worry about the game, don’t worry about anything else, just turn around and scream for a doctor and that’s all. It was just let’s get him the help he needs and they came and got him the help. For me, it was something I don’t want to witness again. And I know we play a game there’s a lot of emotion and a lot of passion in, but the first thing I thought of was Rich, his family and his kids and what a good person he is and just prayed for everything to be Okay.”
Peverley was quickly carried off the bench and down the tunnel where he was treated before being transported to UT Southwestern St. Paul University Hospital. His wife, Nathalie, rode with him in the ambulance.
“Personally, I thought the medical staff did an unbelievable job tonight,” said Ruff. “And I was there firsthand and if it wasn’t for our doctors and all the members reacting so quickly and so efficiently, I could be standing here with a different story. But they did an absolutely fabulous job.”
The incident visibly affected players, who were shaken as they stood around on the ice for several minutes before leaving. Teammate Alex Chiasson was so shaken that he was taken to a Dallas hospital and released, but did not accompany the club to St. Louis for their Tuesday night game against the Blues.
“I think that they’re doing like everybody in this building,” said Ruff. “They’re the guys that live with him, they’ve got that camaraderie in the dressing room. There’s nobody in there that wants to play hockey right now and I think everybody understands that when you’ve witnessed what they had to witness and that’s their teammate. And that’s the right place to be. That’s the right emotion to have. They’re not doing very good and I wouldn’t expect them to be.”
The NHL postponed the game due to the “emotional state of the players on both teams caused by the medical emergency.” A decision about the remainder of the game will be made at a later date. Ruff said postponing the game was an easy decision to make.
“I had a discussion with the players first I addressed (them), just saying a prayer for Rich and thanking God that he was okay and told them that the first thing he asked me was how much time left in the first period?” Ruff said. “That’s a typical athlete, but there’s not one guy in that room that wants to play hockey right now and I’m not there to persuade them to play. I don’t want to coach a team right now.”
Stars’ Comeback Ends Wild’s Winning Streak on Mike Modano’s Night
The Stars adeptly overcame an emotional evening resulting from the club’s retirement ceremony of Mike Modano’s #9 jersey on Saturday, March 8 by coming back to end the Wild’s five-game winning streak, 4-3. Dallas finished its four-game season series against the Central Division’s Wild by capturing five of a possible eight points, having won both home games while losing in regulation and in overtime at Minnesota.
Dallas lost goalie Kari Lehtonen to a head injury in the 3rd period after Wild forward Eric Haula bowled him over in the crease midway through the final session. Lehtonen suffered a cut and was later diagnosed with a concussion.
“Obviously, it’s not good,” Ruff said. “(Lehtonen) went in hard, hit the crossbar hard. The likelihood is it’s a concussion on just a dirty play. (Haula) should be suspended. A fourth liner takes out our goaltender.”
Haula receive d a major penalty for charging, which enabled Dallas to tie the score 3-3 when Tyler Seguin took Erik Cole’s pass, drove to the net and knocked in his own rebound in the final minute of the five-minute power play midway through the 3rd period.
“Special teams are going to win games in a playoff type game like that was tonight,” said Seguin after netting his team-leading 29th goal of the season. “On that power play we were trying to do too many things, it wasn’t clicking and I thought when I got the puck again I was just going to take it to the net. I got my own rebound there and luckily it went in.”
Exactly four minutes later, Cole picked off a Wild pass at the Dallas blue line and scored his 15th of the year on a breakaway to give the Stars the lead for good with just under five minutes left in the 3rd period.
“Because it was Mike (Modano’s) night, the guys really wanted to play hard for him,” said Ruff. “The guys really wanted to cap it off and make it a special night for him. You have to give the guys in the room a lot of credit for that. The buzz in the building was awesome, the fans were awesome. That game had playoff atmosphere and playoff intensity.”
Jamie Benn’s 25th goal of the season and Alex Chiasson’s 11th gave Dallas leads of 1-0 and 2-1 early in the 1st and 2nd periods, respectively. Goalie Tim Thomas, who took for Lehtonen, stopped all six shots he faced to pick up a win in his first appearance in a Stars’ uniform.
Stars Rout Canucks
After being outscored 6-0 during the first period of their previous three games, the Stars treated their fans to a reversal of that trend during a 6-1 victory over the hapless Canucks on March 6. Dallas finished its three-game season series against the Pacific Division’s Canucks by capturing all six points, having won at home twice and once at Vancouver.
Dallas scored twice in the first eight minutes and three times in the opening 12 minutes as Jamie Benn scored once and added two assists while linemate Tyler Seguin tallied twice and added a helper. Benn opened the scoring by poking home the rebound of a Seguin breakaway that he had set up. Seguin scored twice, making it 2-0 with his 25th of the year on a power play breakaway created by an outstanding lead pass from Alex Chiasson, and 3-0 later in the 1st period when his wrister from the right wing boards somehow eluded goalie Eddie Lack.
“The fast start was because our execution was good, the puck movement was crisp and we got inside their zone and made some nice plays,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. I thought we played well in a lot of areas. I think it started in their own end and the transition up-ice which makes a difference. We were on the tape and when you’re on the tape it leads to really good speed in our game.”
“(In particular, our top line’s) puck movement was good,” Ruff added. “The top line may have been a little bit fortunate as the 3rd goal that) ripped from the wall in the first period found a way to go in. It’s never a bad play to get it on net.”
Dallas continued to dominate a Vancouver team that entered the game with a 1-9-1 mark in its last 11 games. Defenseman Alex Goligoski converted a Ray Whitney power play feed for his 5th of the season and 3rd red light in as many games to make it 4-0, and Ryan Garbutt added his 12th off a fed from Goligoski later in the 2nd to make it 5-0.
Vancouver scored its only goal after Lehtonen misplayed a dump in pass behind the net. Seguin completed his NHL-leading 3rd three-goal hat trick of the season in the 3rd period by beating backup goalie Jacob Markstrom (whom Vancouver acquired from Florida for Roberto Luongo earlier in the week) to the short side for his 28th of the year. Seguin joins Billy Guerin and Mike Modano as the only players in team history to post three hat tricks in one season.
“(Seguin’s) late one, for the hat trick, you wonder how it goes in, but it went in,” said Ruff. “(Stars forward Vernon Fiddler) said on the bench, ‘Those never go in for me.’ It is funny how sometimes goal scorers find ways to put them in the holes.”
“I really liked the way our team played,” Ruff added. “I thought (we) were ready to play and played hard. Even late they were blocking shots and trying to give Kari that little extra help. There was a lot of good tonight. If we play the way we’re playing we’ll get results.”
Dallas Stars Player of the Week – Tyler Seguin
Seguin earned NHL First Star of the Week honors after leading the circuit with 10 points (four goals, six assists) to help Dallas earn eight of a possible 10 points for the week and strengthen their hold on the second wild card playoff position in the Western Conference. Seguin notched one assist in a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres and tallied five points, including his third hat trick of the season in a 6-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks. He finished the week by tallying a goal and two assists in a 4-3 victory over the Minnesota Wild. Seguin’s eight-point outburst against Vancouver and Minnesota accounted for the most points in two games by a Stars player since the 1992-93 season, when Mike Modano scored three goals and five assists for eight point during a February 1-3 stretch. Seguin, who added an assist on Jamie Benn’s overtime game winner at St. Louis, ranks 5th in NHL scoring with a team-leading 67 points (29 goals and 389 helpers), and his goal output is tied for 6th sixth overall.