The Dallas Stars hosted their most significant game since 2016, and in front of an amped crowd they promptly performed like they had never seen a hockey puck in their lives.
On Tuesday night at the American Airlines Center, the Stars offered their loyal fans one of the worst sequences of postseason sports this town has ever seen.
No matter, it’s only Game 3 of the Western Conference finals against Las Vegas where the Stars started the day 0-2 in the series.
In the first seven minutes and 10 seconds of the first period, the Stars captain lost his mind and was ejected, the team allowed three goals, and the goalie was pulled.
After the third goal, you could have heard a MasterCard drop among the 18,000-plus fans in disbelief that they forked over hundreds of dollars to watch their team play like it was a Tuesday night in January.
What should have been a series that went to a Game 7 looks like it will be over by the end of Game 4.
After winning the first two games in overtime, the Las Vegas Golden Nuggets came to Texas and kicked around the Stars in a 4-0 win. The Golden Knights lead the series 3-0, and can close out this sad show on Thursday night.
If you are fan of the Dallas Stars and have bothered to read this far, thank you, and much respect.
There was nothing that happened in the first two games of this series that indicated the Stars were vulnerable to a such a butt kickin’.
Less than one minute after Vegas scored the game’s first goal, Stars captain Jamie Benn committed one of the most egregious, dumbest and idiotic penalties conceivable.
After Benn cleanly knocked Golden Knights forward Mark Stone to the ice, Benn took his stick with both hands effectively jumped into Stone’s chest with a brutal cross check.
Benn didn’t even try to hide it; he did this directly in front of the ref’. Go big or go home.
Even in a playoff game, the official had no choice. Benn was given a game misconduct, the Knights were handed a five minute power play, and that was that.
In the next five minutes, Vegas scored twice more and Stars goalie Jake Oettinger was justifiably pulled in favor of the backup, Something McSomething OrOther.
What Benn did was uncharacteristic, and beneath one of the NHL’s most respected players.
Historically Benn is a tough, fair, player. What he did to Stone was dirty.
This is not some 23-year-old kid fresh off the float plane from Moose Jaw. Benn is 33, and a 14-year NHL veteran. He knows better, and he did it anyways.
The sad irony is no player has played more selflessly in his career than Benn, and in that moment he made a most selfish play.
There is a decent chance his penalty will lead to a suspension by the NHL. It was a brazen hit with no regard for the moment, or the weight of the game.
In between periods, the Stars listed the “NHL Fan Code of Conduct” on its Jumbotron. On the list includes, “Fans may not use abusive language or obscene gestures.”
Such demands were wisely not made of the Stars coaching staff, GM Jim Nill, team president Brad Alberts, and owner Tom Gaglardi.
By the end of the second period a boring blowout actually got worse; Stars forward Max Domi was given a game misconduct, which led to fans throwing bottles, food and other trash onto the ice but hats.
Given the way the Stars played, the ice could have been confused for a trash can. Say this for Stars fans, at least they could hit the target, unlike the Stars players who could not hit back of the net.
With 21.6 seconds remaining in the second period, the referees sent both teams to the dressing room. It’s a shame they just didn’t keep them there for the third period.
By the end of the night the Stars completed one of the worst home playoff performances in franchise history.
The last time they hosted a game of this magnitude was Game 7 of their second round series against the St. Louis Blues in 2016. The Stars fell behind 3-0 in the first period, pulled the goalie, and lost 6-1.
This is the Western Conference Finals, and if the Stars had any real chance to advance to the Stanley Cup they had to win Tuesday night.
Rather than win, they decided not to play, and their season is just about over.