In 2011, he ended their season.
Goalie Jose Theodore made Miettinen's third-period power-play goal stand up, in back of a collapsed and effective Minnesota Wild defense, as the Stars went from win-and-you're-in to lost-and-we're-done in a 5-3 defeat on the road.
So the Chicago Blackhawks -- defending Stanley Cup champions, unable to defeat a Detroit Red Wings team at home this afternoon with their playoff fate at stake -- are back into the playoffs as the No. 8 seed in the West.
With a first-round matchup against the Vancouver Canucks, no less; giving the Presidents' Trophy winner a chance to kill their own private postseason Freddy Kruger or get their asses kicked to the curb by Chicago for a third consecutive season. The Hockey Gods have willed it.
But the Hockey Gods did not ultimately smile upon the Stars, despite giving them a chance to clinch the final playoff seed with a win.
The Wild were anything but apathetic in this one, playing better puck control hockey than the Stars and getting unexpected offense from Brad Staubitz (his fourth) and Colton Gillies (his first of the season).
With the scored tied 2-2, the second period featured the best and worst of Gillies. He was a presence in front of Kari Lehtonen, winning a battle with Jamie Benn to score at 11:53 and give Minnesota the 3-2 lead.
At 17:36, he was a presence inside Lehtonen's crease, taking a goalie interference penalty; after Greg Zanon put the puck over the glass 22 seconds later for the 5-on-3, Alex Goligoski rocketed home a shot from the point to tie it. (Ably assisted by Morrow in front, who used a fake slash to back off Brent Burns and establish position).
But it was Miettinen that provided the dagger in the third, with Stephane Robidas in the box for tripping Gillies (no less). Mikko Koivu started the play behind the goal line to Kari Lehtonen's right. He slipped a difficult pass to Andrew Brunette on the other side, which left the Stars killers in a scramble. Brunette fed it across to Miettinen, who cashed in at 6:47 of the third.
Dallas had some snake-bit moments. Brad Richards, who had a goal and an assist in what could be his franchise swan song, hit a post on the power play to open the third. Robidas had a post nine minutes into the game. A puck went off of Adam Burish's skate in the crease and ricocheted out.
But this was not a miscarriage of justice or a fluky defeat — this was a loss, with the season on the line; a last-second choke from a team that frankly had failed to take control of their season again after a 3-win February erased an impressive start.
For Dallas, there's going to be the usual Monday Morning Quarterbacking of GM Joe Nieuwendyk's decision to keep Brad Richards at the deadline, but c'mon: The Stars were in this thing until the final 60 minutes of the season, and he scored eight points in six games to put them in this position. Whatever happens, happens, and this loss begins an offseason of headaches about Richards and the team's ownership. But keeping him was the right decision.
For Chicago … well, strike up the Chelsea Dagger, because some old friends are coming back to town for Game 3.
- Antti Miettinen
- Kari Lehtonen
- Chicago Blackhawks
- Colton Gillies
- Brad Richards