By Kostya Kennedy, SI.com
If you're a Stars fan, you don't like this one bit. The final score, you don't like, of course -- Anaheim 4, Dallas 2, in the Stars' building. But you also don't like what you saw anywhere on the ice in Game 3.
You don't like to think about what this Duck party just might portend.
Yeah, yeah, you're still up two games to one in the series, and you could put these West Coast Quackers on the brink with a win in Dallas on Thursday night. And, sure, you like your chances in that one considering Anaheim played just a game over .500 on the road this season, worse than all but two playoffs team.
Then again, lover of the Stars, you also know who you're up against. The Ducks aren't your ordinary No. 4 seed. They're the No. 4 seed that won it all barely 10 months ago.
Before these playoffs began, Ducks GM Brian Burke likened his defending champion team to a drowsy bear. When it's fully awake, he told The Hockey News, "It's still a bear."
Right -- a bear that was throwing its considerable weight around in all the right (and legal, for a change) ways in the first period. Boom! A Travis Moen forecheck set up one goal. Smash! A Brad May leveling of Mattias Norstrom led to another. You definitely don't like to see things like that, Dallas fan. That is the bear getting comfortable in its element.
You didn't like seeing Anaheim center Ryan Getzlaf, he of the 17 points during last spring's Stanley Cup run, get himself started with his first goal of the '08 playoffs, either. Makes you nervous. After one period Tuesday night, Burke's Bears were up 3-0 and Dallas' Mike Modano was saying, "We'll see what's in us."
Not much in the second period -- it was 4-0 by the time that was through. But in the third, there were two power-play goals from Stars captain Brenden Morrow that cut the lead in half. Yet even that couldn't brighten you for long, Dallas fanatic. It was a little scary to see Anaheim clamp down after that, wasn't it? Seeing them allow but a few worthy chances over the last 12 minutes.
Nor did you like it when one of those chances did arise and Ducks goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped Stars forward Jere Lehtinen point blank with 9:30 left. Here's a Conn Smythe- and Cup-winning goalie who just may be rounding into form.
You didn't like your goalie either, Stars fan. Didn't dig seeing him give up four goals on 15 shots. Marty Turco's postseasons have gotten better lately, but when he goes bad, he goes horrid. Three of Anaheim's first four shots got by Turco in Game 3, bringing up shades of the '04 and '06 playoffs when the Avalanche fairly swallowed him whole. Dallas lover, you remember those Turco save percentages: .849 one year, .868 the next. You remember those 3-point-thirtysomething goals-against-averages. You remember those first-round slink-outs.
But when it comes to why this game may augur an unhappy series ending in the Big D, it's not you, it's them. This is a champion up off the mat, a winner not ready to let itself lose, a team that has Chris Pronger, and a Chris Pronger who scored twice on Tuesday night.
Yes, this is a world in which Ducks are bears. And they are bears, no less, who know math -- namely that one is 25 percent of the way to four, which is how many games you need to win a series. Which is what these Duckbears, still down but now very far from out, are fixin' to do.