We probably heap too much praise on the Stars when they win, but they really do show a lot of character in games like this.
No, they did not start out well, but they regrouped, they made key plays, and they found a way to win a very important game.
Obviously, Kari Lehtonen coming up with 35 saves, including surviving an opening flurry, was the biggest part of the win. But the Stars had to come through with some offense, as well. So Brad Richards came up with two huge plays and scored twice. He now leads the Stars with 14 goals.
In addition, the penalty kill had to come through _ the same penalty kill that had been a big mess earlier in the year. And they went 5-for-5 and have killed 41-of-46 (89.1 percent) in the Stars' recent 9-2-2 run.
And the Stars did all that while standing up for one another in a very physical game.
So, yes, it wasn't perfect, but it was the fact that the Star rose above their own imperfections to play their best when the game was on the line at the end that shows you something a little special about this team.
"I thought, as a team, we played better in the second, and I thought our best period was the third," coach Marc Crawford said. "We had many guys that rose to the occasion. Brad Richards' two huge goals, and Brenden Morrow again showed great leadership all night. Our penalty kill was excellent, and the defense was terrific."
Of course, Lehtonen's play has been at the center of what the team has been able to do. Here is Crawford on the effect Lehtonen's play has had at times.
``Our guys are showing real confidence in him, and that's changing how they play,'' Crawford said. ``When you don't have confidence, you back off. When you do have confidence, you play a little bit more assertively. It's funny, they're 120 feet away from him, yet we can still see the assertiveness because our goaltender builds confidence in the entire group.''
Here's Steve Ott on Lehtonen:
``We kind of turned over the guard at the end of the season last year (with the goalies), and the guys drew a lot of confidence in that. Now, after this year, you know he's a difference-maker. There's no fluke why he was the second pick overall. We kind of stole him, really.''
But again, that wasn't the only reason the Stars won. The power play scored a timely goal. The penalty kill came up with big plays. Richards was a real leader. In a game where the Stars were getting killed in the circle, Richards won 7-of-10 in the third period.
The Stars had just one recorded giveaway in the entire game, while they were credited with eight takeaways. They Actually outshot the Blue Jackets in the third period, 10-9, when the game was on the line. They were outshot 27-13 before that.
To be fair to the Blue Jackets, they believe they were hurt by an official's call of interference that cost them a Derek Dorsett goal in the second period. They do not believe Ethan Moreau interfered with Lehtonen.
``It was obviously a goal after seeing the replay,'' Dorsett said. ``Once you see the replay, it is an obvious goal. That is a key point in the game. It's a 1-1 game and turns it into a 2-1 game. It's an obvious goal, it should have been a good goal. I think Chopper [Ethan Moreau] and [Rick] Nash talked to the referee and they said Chopper touched or bumped into the goalie and you can see clearly on the replay that he didn't.''
To be fair to the Stars, they believe that Tom Sestito should be suspended for a blindside hit on Nicklas Grossman and also believe there were other uncalled penalties on the Blue Jackets.
Bottom line, the Stars found a way around the officiating (and the officiating has played a role in a lot of games recently) and Columbus did not. That says something about this team.
It was a big deal to win this game, because it gives the Stars more confidence and it gives them more breathing room for whenever a slump might come up. And it's just another step in the development of this team and its culture.
Maybe the praise is actually perfectly placed after all.