Disbelief at the Stars’ 2-1 overtime loss at Madison Square Garden was not yet evident on the faces of the Stars players, but Jake Oettinger was evident. Oettinger, who is arguably the team’s best interviewer, was left speechless after a shutout win was inexplicably snatched from him on Thursday.
Oettinger said “I don’t know” three times in 20 seconds. Most of the 80-second post-game interview consisted of fragmented sentences and phrases. They ranged from “I’ll probably think about that for a while” to “brutal” to “there’s actually not much to say” to “just sucks”. But his last two words summed it all up.
“S—happened,” said Oettinger.
ever does An end like Thursday night’s can easily make the opening 59 minutes and 59 seconds of the game forgettable, but the Stars actually played well away against the reigning Vezina Trophy winners. They failed to back up the results, scoring just one goal, a power play record in their only chance for man-advantage. But it was a relatively uneventful game. Rangers had a 28-24 lead on shots on goal in the first 59 minutes and 59 seconds of regular time, and the Stars had an 8-4 lead on dangerous chances throughout the game.
Now for that dreaded final second of regulation, a series of unfortunate events that would make even Lemony Snicket envious. First there was the near-gap with 17 seconds to go. The Stars had already fought off the six-for-five pressure with a couple of last-minute clearances, but with less than 30 seconds to go, K’Andre Miller was at the end of a shift that lasted forever, putting the puck in the depth. As it circled again, it was moving up the ice toward the blue line, with Luke Glendening hot on its heels.
Mueller was there.
The Rangers defender brought the puck back low where it circled the perimeter before Artemi Panarin fired a desperate shot into the slot. Oettinger pushed it out into a sea of sticks, and it was eventually pushed back onto the open ice. Perhaps not the ideal situation, but remember the game lasted less than three seconds as the Stars led 1-0.
Mueller was there.
The New York defenseman, now at the end of a 2 1/2 minute shift, stepped up and punished the puck with his stick. Not ideal, sure, but Glendening was there to block the shot. The clock had run out to less than 1 1/2 seconds.
Mueller was there.
He flicked the puck past Glendening and down the aisle, with Miro Heiskanen and Ryan Suter close by on either side. Oettinger, who had been a master all game, couldn’t see the puck and he slipped past him to force overtime.
“Just fantastic,” said Stars coach Pete DeBoer. “He was our backbone. When he plays like that, he gives us a chance to win every night, no matter what team you’re playing against, what rink you’re on, or if you’re in a tough environment. He was just without light.”
This wasn’t the first time Oettinger had lost a shutout bid late in a game, but it wasn’t late in the game either. This was the end of the game. With a second remaining and all due resistance, Oettinger deserved to leave Madison Square Garden with “Shutout” on his resume. The pain of the absence would likely be there no matter what happens in overtime, but it might be mitigated if the Stars still came out with two points.
Fifty seconds after overtime, the Stars had the ideal scenario on the ice. Heiskanen, the team’s best defenseman and a zone-entry machine, had the puck all alone on his stick. Team top scorer Jason Robertson and team’s only scorer of the night Tyler Seguin were with him on the ice.
On entry, Mika Zibanejad eluded Heiskanen of the puck in a manner that can only be described as what Heiskanen routinely does to others. As the puck floated to the wall, it was a race for the point between Panarin and Heiskanen. Panarin is an elite player, but so is Heiskanen. It seemed inevitable that the puck would either return to the stars or get messily fumbled about.
Instead, Panarin drove right around Heiskanen and got a dangerous look at a game winner. Oettinger stopped it, and Heiskanen collected the puck before Zibanejad got into the frame. Zibanejad tripped Heiskanen, causing the puck to bounce off. Heiskanen reached over, then tripped Zibanejad and the puck went lost in the net front. Panarin got away with it and fed Adam Fox, who gave a stickless Heiskanen a nasty move to end the game.
“Over a long season, you’re going to win games like this, you’re going to lose games like this,” DeBoer said. “I really enjoyed our game. A bit of the hockey gods winding things up. I felt we played a much better game tonight than on the island (on Tuesday). We have two points on the island. It was a good road trip. More importantly, I enjoyed our game tonight.”
The Stars’ game was good, but the game as a whole was weird. Even the goal Dallas scored was an implied shot that ended up being a perfect pass.
A blocked shot cost dearly, and a Heiskanen zone entry ended in a goal for the opposition. Overall, the stars are doing well. Three out of four points in a trip to New York against Ilya Sorokin and Igor Shesterkin are nothing to sneeze at. Oettinger faced off against two of the NHL’s best goalies, beating them in 119 minutes and 59 seconds. The stars already know it, but their man on the net is as good as anyone in the league any night.
“There really isn’t much to say,” said Oettinger. “It’s just tough. Guys played their hearts out and blocked shots. Everyone wanted to win it just as badly as I did. It just sucks when you’re so close and the guys played great in front of you. A lot of guys sacrificed themselves. S- happened.”
(Photo of Jake Oettinger defending a shot from Jimmy Vesey: Adam Hunger/Associated Press)
https://theathletic.com/4087517/2023/01/13/stars-ot-loss-rangers/ Stars go from shutout win to overtime loss in 1 second