The Anaheim Ducks were a certified championship contender heading into the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but as all NHL fans know, winning isn’t easy for any team. The Dallas Stars proved this point expertly, but in the end, the Ducks were simply too much to handle, winning the series 4-2.
The Ducks and Stars took to the ice in Game One of their quarterfinal series at the Honda Center in California. The home team jumped out to a massive 4-0 lead by the half-way point in the game, but the Stars won’t going down easy. Goals from Jamie Benn, Colton Sceviour, and Tyler Seguin made the game interesting in the dying minutes, but the miraculous comeback fell short, as the Ducks took the 1-0 series lead. Ryan Getzlaf took a slapshot off the face in the final seconds of the game, and would end up recieving fifty stitches, and wearing a face-shield until Game Six.
Game Two would turn out to be a much tighter affair from start to finish. The Stars took their first lead of the series with a goal from Alex Chiasson, but the Ducks tied the game before the end of the first with a goal from Getzlaf. Flash forward to the third period, and two more Ducks goals had the home team in front 3-1. Ryan Garbutt‘s goal made it interesting with over 10 minutes to go, but Frederik Andersen held his ground, and the Ducks took a 2-0 series lead heading to Texas.
The American Airlines Center was the sight for the first Stars’ home playoff game since 2008, and the Stars certainly came out to play. Jamie Benn‘s goal in the final minute of the first period turned out to be the game-winner, as Kari Lethonen had an outstanding 39-save shutout performance. Goals from Garbutt and Valeri Nichushkin widened the gap for the Stars, who blocked 19 shots in the game, led by Jamie Benn‘s 4. Dallas’ 3-0 win avoided a Ducks’ stranglehold, with one more game at the AAC beofre heading back to California.
Game Four turned out to be one of the most tight-fought games of the series, despite the outcome. Two first-period goals from the Ducks were equaled by two in the second from the Stars, and the third was set to be a royal battle. The Stars won that battle with two more in the third from Cody Eakin and Alex Goligoski, as Lethonen made several outstanding saves to keep the Ducks from battling back. The Stars won both their games at home, and evened the series at 2 games each.
The show was back in Anaheim for Game Five, with the winner holding an opportunity to close out the series in the next game. The Stars and Ducks traded goals for the first 40 minutes, and with one period to play, the Ducks were just one goal ahead at 3-2. However, Jakob Silfverberg‘s goal just over a minute into the final frame started a run of three Ducks’ goals in 5:42, which was more than enough to seal a 6-2 win, and the 3-2 series lead.
The Stars headed back to Dallas with their season on the line in Game Six. It seemed that Dallas was going to pull off the win, with a 4-2 lead in the final minutes of the third period. However, as anyone who has watched Playoff hockey this season, the two-goal lead is something not many hold for very long. Nick Bonino brought the Ducks within one with 3 minutes to go, and Devante Smith-Pelly sent the game to overtime with just 24 seconds left in the game. At that point, the damage was done for the Stars. It took only 2:47 for Bonino to find the net once again, sealing a huge come-back win for the Ducks, one that sealed a 4-2 series win.
The Ducks now wait for the winner of the San Jose Sharks/Los Angeles Kings series ,which could end on Monday with a Sharks win. The Stars’ season is over, but after giving the top team in the Western Conference a scare in their first post-season in seven years, they have lots to build on moving forward.
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