*** TRIGGER WARNING: Toronto Maple Leafs fans still haunted by their team's 2013 playoff collapse should avoid this post, as it describes a familiar narrative ***
You've gotta feel for those plucky Dallas Stars.
They had the Ducks on the ropes in Game 6, up 4-2 after D-man Trevor Daley scored his second tally of the game. The Stars were under 10 minutes from sending the series to a seventh game.
With three minutes to go, the Ducks utilized the increasingly popular "Patrick Roy Early Pull," a tactic that's worked twice for the Avs in these playoffs.
At 17:50 of the third, the Ducks pulled within one.
The Western Conference champions maintained the pressure, hurling 17 shot attempts at the net in the last four minutes of the game. In that stretch, the Stars had zero attempts. In the final minute of regulation, this happened:
The American Airlines Center went silent as the Ducks forced OT. If momentum exists, it had shifted entirely in Anaheim's favor.
With the Stars apparently still in disbelief at the beginning of overtime, Anaheim clinched the series, courtesy of Nick Bonino.
Anaheim will face San Jose or Los Angeles in Round 2.
One intriguing storyline for the Ducks heading into the next series: After Frederik Andersen gave up four goals on 12 shots, Jonas Hiller came into the game and stopped all 12 shots he faced while the Ducks pulled off the comeback. Does Bruce Boudreau go with Hiller to start the Battle of California?
Once the Stars gets over the heartbreak of their collapse, they'll hopefully recognize how remarkably they competed in this series. Consider that Dallas approached the trade deadline as sellers and are one off-season removed from a major roster overhaul. They are way ahead of schedule.
Anaheim was the 10th team in these playoffs to come back from two goals down to win a game. It's been an incredibly entertaining first round, with four series yet to be decided. Bet on more comebacks.