Hockey Night in suburban Chicago

It's been crazy with the holidays, Bowl games and the rollout of a new program at work that is going to drive me over the edge -- but I'm back.

Sure, Stu Barnes and Niklas Hagman are happy ... but they almost had a "What the ...???" moment on Thursday night.

At least once a season, there is a play that when you see it either live or on television, makes you go, "What the ...???" Marek Malik's sick shootout goal for the New York Rangers last season against the Capitals was one. Another was Washington's Alexander Ovechkin scoring on his back against Phoenix.

I saw my first NHL game when I was six years old, and I've some "What the ... ???" moments. That is until Dallas' Patrik Stefan skated in on an empty net Thursday night in Edmonton.

The Stars clawed back from a three-goal deficit, and scored three times early in the final period to take a 5-4 lead. With time winding down, Stefan skated in alone ready to make it 6-4. All he needed to do was tap the puck in an empty net, have a postgame meal, hit the showers and a bus ride to Calgary.

That is until he lost his edge. And the puck. And Dallas ended up losing its lead.

Petr Sykora scooped up the puck, skated up ice, passed it to Ryan Smyth who found Ales Hemsky and beat Marty Turco with two seconds to play.

Dallas ended up winning 6-5 in a shooutout ... and Stefan -- formerly a top overall pick by Atlanta in 1999 -- has been immortalized on You Tube.

"They may show it a million times for years to come," joked Stefan. "I mean, we came out with the two points so it's easy to laugh about it right now. It's not like I missed the net, I saw it was bad ice and I had so much time so I just tried to carry it all the way to the net. As soon as I put it on my back hand it jumped over my stick. Not much I can do about that."

After co-worker and professional blogsticator Chris Altruda saw the replay, he summed it up best using just three letters: "CUT!"

I think a one-way ticket to Des Moines is in order here.


SWEET STEEN: Toronto's Alexander Steen had three goals and two assists in 10-2 rout of Boston. Steen is the son of former Winnipeg Jets star Thomas Steen, who had a career-high five points against Ottawa in 1993.

BOUNCING BACK BLUE: St. Louis goaltender Manny Legace made 28 saves in a 2-0 win over Chicago. After missing some time when he took a puck off the noggin last month that brielfy knocked him unconscious, Legace is 6-1-3 with a 1.57 GAA and two shutouts.

MILESTONE FOR MARLEAU: Patrick Marleau became the all-time leading scorer in Sharks history with a goal and three assists in a 9-4 romp over Detroit. Marleau has 454 career points, three better than Owen Nolan, now with Phoenix.


CHOW-DAH HEADS: With their loss to Toronto, the Bruins have been outscored 20-3 in their last three games and have allowed 28 tallies in five games.

NOT DOMINATING: Dominik Hasek had the worst game of his amazing career. The six-time Vezina Trophy winner and future Hall of Famer gave up eight unanswered goals before being pulled in the loss to San Jose.

HOME ICE DISADVANTAGE: Minnesota's franchise-record eight-game home winning streak ended with a 3-2 loss to Tampa Bay. The Wild still have a league-high 17 wins this season at the Xcel Energy Center.


"We were bestowed upon a miracle at the end. I have never seen anything like it. It's one of those moments in hockey that you'll remember forever. It turned a disaster into a debacle." -- Oilers coach Craig MacTavish on a blunder by the Stars that led to the tying goal being scored with 2 seconds left in regulation.

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