They were without Steve Ott. They were facing a Sharks team that had beaten them soundly every time they had played this year and they twice faced a third-period deficit Thursday night. So yeah, when Dallas Stars coach Glen Gulutzan called Thursday's 4-3 shootout win over the rival Sharks "gutsy," he can be forgiven for using a form of the word three different times in one answer. Because that's exactly what it was.
"I thought we played real gutsy," Gulutzan told reporters in Dallas. "It's just a gutsy performance. Guys gutted it out."
It may be time to carve some space out in the Jack Adams race for the first-year Stars coach, because while other Pacific teams such as San Jose, Phoenix and Los Angeles are struggling to find consistency, he has his Stars playing their best hockey of the season. Dallas' win on Thursday night improves the Stars' record to 8-0-1 in their last nine games and pushes them three points ahead of Phoenix for the Pacific Division lead.
It's incredible. To me, St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock is the Jack Adams frontrunner, with his Blues currently leading the NHL with 93 points. Ottawa's Paul MacLean would be next, since I had the Senators penciled in at No. 30 this summer and they're going to make the playoffs. But you can't ignore the streaking Stars, and Gulutzan deserves a ton of credit. So does his goalie, Kari Lehtonen, who was outstanding Thursday night against the Sharks, making 45 saves. He was perfect in the shootout.
"Kari's been unbelievable all season long. So hard to find a mistake in his game," said Tomas Vincour, whose shootout goal won the game for Dallas. "He's a great goalie."
And now, on to the Friday mailbag. If you have a question for the mailbag, send it in here.
In your article about injured players whose return could impact the playoffs you forgot to mention the Coyotes' Rusty Klesla. The Coyotes have been playing a combination of Chris Summers, Michael Stone and David Rundblad to fill the void created by Klesla and Derek Morris. Klesla has been as valuable as Keith Yandle to the Coyotes blueline and getting him back in time for the playoffs would be a massive boost. -- Mike Murphy, Phoenix.
To see Craig's take on a missing man in Phoenix, the weird Southeast Division race and a wild possibility around one of the NHL's best goalies, you must be an ESPN Insider.