DENVER – Mike Ribeiro’s dazzling new backward spin move was going so well in practice, he decided to debut it in a game.
The flamboyant manoeuvre worked there, too. Ribeiro resorted to some trickery in the final shootout attempt, skating in backward and flipping a shot into the net off Peter Budaj to give the Dallas Stars a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night.
Not that he would’ve tried the move in a game that had playoff meaning.
However, in a matchup of two teams already out of the post-season picture, why not?
That is, as long as he succeeded.
“I knew if I didn’t score, I would’ve heard about it from the boys,” Ribeiro said.
For the Avalanche, it was yet another bitter ending in a disappointing season.
After the game, the news only got worse when Avalanche captain Joe Sakic announced he wouldn’t be back this season, leaving his career up in the air.
Sakic, who’s in his 20th season, said he’s still a few weeks away from returning as the strength in his left leg hasn’t fully come back following January surgery to repair a herniated disk.
He refuses to think about long-term plans until the summer.
It’s not a decision he’s eager to make.
“Anytime someone who has done something for so long has to face that decision, it’s always going to be a tough one,” said Sakic, whose team closes out the season Sunday.
Avalanche coach Tony Granato was hoping to see Sakic back on the ice, but time worked against him.
The 39-year-old Sakic hasn’t played since his balky back knocked him out of a Nov. 28 game at Phoenix. In December, Sakic damaged his left hand in a snow blower accident at his home.
While sidelined, he underwent surgery to repair a herniated disk.
“He’s a pretty special athlete and I was hoping for his sake, for how hard he worked, it would come around a little quicker,” Granato said. “He gave it everything he had. The guy was in there early in the morning and going as fast as he could.”
Ribeiro picked the perfect time to pull off some trickery.
Once Matt Climie stopped T.J. Hensick’s try, there was no pressure. After all, the shootout was tied 2-2.
So Ribeiro glided toward Budaj, suddenly turned backward, passed the puck to himself between his legs and then shot it at Budaj, the puck bounding off Budaj’s stick and high into the air before trickling in.
Thing of beauty?
In Budaj’s opinion, thing of luck.
“When you say Mike Ribeiro, I know he’s going to try something fancy,” Budaj said. “That’s his style. I didn’t really bite on his (moves) and it just trickled in. It’s tough luck.”
Stars co-general manager Brett Hull just shook his head, a little displeased at the move.
“I don’t think he’d ever do that if there was a playoff position on the line,” Hull said.
Not a chance, Ribeiro said.
“I figured the time was right to give it a try,” Ribeiro said. “Luckily, it went in.”
Fabian Brunnstrom and James Neal also scored in the shootout for the Stars, while Wojtek Wolski and Milan Hejduk countered for Colorado.
Brunnstrom and Steve Begin scored in regulation for Dallas. Chris Stewart and John-Michael Liles also had goals for Colorado.
Notes: Colorado F Ian Laperriere played in his 999th career game. … Climie finished with 25 saves as he filled in for Marty Turco. … Budaj had 37 saves. … Per Ledin made his NHL debut, the 11th player to do so this season for the injury-riddled Avalanche. The New York Islanders are the only team to have had more players (12) kick off their careers in 2008-09. … Avalanche D Ray Macias had an assist on Stewart’s goal, his first NHL point. … The Stars are 6-5 in shootouts this season, while Colorado is 9-4.