Neither the Ducks nor the Stars are in the playoffs this year, both having been mathematically eliminated. That does not mean there is nothing left to play for.
For Anaheim, it was another chance to look at youth with a glimpse towards next season. For Dallas, it might have been the last game that Mike Modano would play at home.
After the Dallas win, 3-2 in shootout, Modano expressed indecision about retirement, although his actions seemed to prove otherwise.
“It was tough to leave the ice, not knowing what the future holds, whether that was it or it wasn’t,” Modano said. “I didn’t really have an idea what to expect, but it was a nice way to possibly end it, how it unfolded. The fans were fantastic.”
Modano made numerous jersey changes throughout the game and the tribute to him with five minutes to go in the game left him on the bench emotionally overwhelmed and tears visibly streaming down his cheeks. Modano will be 40 in June and has been with the Stars franchise for his entire career, a rare feat these days. He is clearly one of the best American born players to play the game.
If it was his final game in Dallas, it could not have played out any better. Modano assisted on the first Stars goal of the game and deflected Trevor Daley’s shot out of the air at 18:13 of the third period to tie up the game and send it to overtime. Modano also scored in the shootout, with Jere Lehtinen clinching it for the Stars.
That gives Modano 557 goals and 1,359 points in his career.
Bobby Ryan, who got both of the Ducks goals and is also American, wears #9 in part as a tribute to Modano.
“He is the reason I chose #9 when I was coming up,” Ryan said.. “He stymied us tonight, but if anybody deserved it, it was him.”
The Ducks left home Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu, Scott Niedermayer and Todd Marchant so they could get a better look at the young ‘uns. Ryan Carter and Dan Sexton made it back into the line-up after sitting for the past five games. Carter assisted on Bobby Ryan’s first goal.
Ryan Getzlaf also remained at home, nursing his ankle sprain. Lubomir Visnovsky was scheduled to have surgery to repair his broken hand on Friday morning. He broke his hand on Tuesday against the Kings and will be out for the rest of the season.
Jonas Hiller, who had missed the past five games with back spasms, was healthy enough to go on the road trip and started in net for the Ducks. Good thing he had plenty of time to rest and rehabilitate his back because he was called upon to make 49 saves in the game.
The Ducks now head to St. Louis for their final road game of the year. This will be another game between two non-playoff contenders, but another chance for the young guys to make a case for why they should be in the line-up when October rolls around.