O'Callahan: Same Effort, Different Result
By Shamus O'Callahan
Now that's more like it.
The Dallas Stars continued the solid play in Game Two at Vancouver on Friday that started in Game One, and this time they won the scoreboard battle as well.
Wednesday's game was frustrating on many levels. Obviously playing that long into the wee hours of the night and coming out empty-handed is the biggest thing. But to control most of the game, especially the third period and first two overtimes, and come away with nothing made it that much harder to take.
But the Stars didn't dwell on the disappointment. Instead they decided to turn their frustration into determination. The coaching staff gave the team an optional practice on Thursday and 75 percent of the team decided to lace up the skates the day after the marathon game. That was a good sign. To a man, every Stars player felt that Game Two was an opportunity to get back out on the ice and simply continue what they started in the first game.
Number one -- score Marty some goals. The Stars never had the lead in Game One and blew a fantastic performance from Turco in almost four periods of overtime. It took a nice play by the Sedin twins to beat him, but it never should have gotten to that.
A few of us were talking about what to expect in Game Two at lunch today. "If we can just get a lead on these guys early for Marty, it will do wonders."
Cue Jeff Halpern. He scored to give Dallas a lead just 24 seconds into the contest and you just had the feel that this game was Marty's to win. A one-goal lead isn't that big of a deal but the mental edge that it gave Turco certainly must have helped.
"I have to hand it to the guys for playing well and continuing to push throughout the game," said Turco. "Tonight's win was about the team. We needed it and now we need three more."
Hopefully Turco's performance begins to silence his critics. Check this -- Turks has given up just one goal in the last 150:30 of play in a span of 69 shots (that's the equivalent of two and a half regulation games). Everyone has been talking about Roberto Luongo in this series (and he has been excellent at times), but maybe it's time that Turco got some love from the media too.
Turco's play has just been one thing that has been great for Dallas in this series. Another big key has been the Stars' fore-check.
"We're a good team when we play at both ends of the ice," said Stu Barnes after the game.
Are they ever. Dallas' fore-check is a big reason they have had success against the Canucks in both games so far and you can expect that to continue. The Canucks seemed frustrated in the second half of the game on Friday and even after the final buzzer. (What was that all about with Bieksa after the final horn?)
How about the checking line of Halpern, Barnes and Lundqvist? Other than Marty, those guys were the three stars tonight (For the record, the Canadian media had Turco as the third star of the game. Excuse me?). Halpern and Lundqvist scored Dallas' goals while Barnes earned as assist on each. And they played great in shutting down the Canucks when they were on the ice.
"We felt we deserved a better fate the other night," said Mike Modano. "We felt we played well and didn't want to change much (for Game Two). We got a lead and made it stand up."
The Stars made it stand up with a complete 60-minute effort. The team made few mistakes in their defensive coverage, which haunted them in Game One. Turco was able to see most of the shots he faced and any good goalie will shut you down in that type of situation.
"We knew we weren't going to give up much," said Modano. "We wanted to take time and space away from them and make things difficult for them."
Now it's on to Game Three on Sunday where Dallas' plan will probably stay the same -- be aggressive, be accountable in their own zone and win the little battles. And now Coach Tippett has the advantage of the last change to get the match-ups he wants.
I'm looking forward to Sunday night. It should be a lot of fun. The Stars can take the lead in a playoff series for the first time since 2003.
It's time to stop chasing this playoff series and start leading it.
The thoughts, opinions and statements made in this column are by the writer and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts of the Dallas Stars or DallasStars.com.