ANAHEIM, Calif. - It appears that a date with the Ducks was just the tonic the Dallas Stars needed.
In the first meeting between the teams since the Stars eliminated their division rivals in the first round of last spring’s playoffs, newcomer Mark Parrish scored a hat trick to lead Dallas to a 5-2 victory over Anaheim Friday night at the Honda Center.
The win snapped a two-game losing streak in which the Stars were outscored 10-3, leaving them 5-6-2 on the season. In the process, they ended the Ducks’ nine-game streak of not losing in regulation (8-0-1).
Parrish, who was signed to a free agent contract on Wednesday, skated on a line with Mike Modano and Sean Avery and looked to be in mid-season form already.
“I hope there’s no pressure or expectations after tonight,” said Parrish, who scored 16 goals and 30 points in 66 games for Minnesota last year. “I was hoping to get off to a good start, I got some good bounces and great plays by my linemates. I’m still trying to figure out how the 3rd one went in. I didn’t feel like I had lost anything... I was skating at my alma mater (St. Cloud State) and preparing for my chance and I wanted to make the most of it. I wanted to make a difference and contribute to a win and it feels good that we won tonight.”
“Great start by Parrish, we knew he was in his element,” Stars coach Dave Tippett said. “He had some timely goals on the spot and he was a solid player for us tonight.”
The Dallas power play, which entered the day ranked 29th in the 30-team NHL, awoke to contribute two goals, while Marty Turco was outstanding in goal. Turco, who entered the day with the NHL’s worst goals-against average (4.34) and save percentage (.837), looked like his old self again, making 28 saves.
“I’ve been working hard and we’ve been through some rough patches, I wasn’t myself, but tonight is a step in the right direction,” Turco said. “Parrish was really good tonight obviously and I think playing the Ducks here brings out the best in us tonight. It’s important to get a win no matter what and build on this moving forward.”
Brad Richards scored a goal and an assist, while rookie Fabian Brunnstrom, who also netted three in his Stars (and NHL) debut last month, had the other Dallas goal. Mike Ribeiro contributed two assists.
“Brunnstrom is very typical for a young player, good hands around the net and he is an astute learner,” Tippett said. “He is a good player around the net and he’ll continue to improve as he goes.”
Another key element to the triumph was Sergei Zubov’s return to the lineup for his first game of the season. Although he didn’t figure in the scoring and wasn’t flashy, just his presence on the ice made an impact.
The Stars jumped out front 7:07 into the game on Brunnstrom’s sixth goal of the season. Moved up to the top line with Brenden Morrow and Ribeiro, Brunnstrom was the beneficiary of some efficient cycling by his more accomplished linemates. Ribeiro ended up controlling the puck behind the net, worked his way out front, and with two Duck defenders converging on him, had his centering pass deflected into the crease, where Brunnstrom pounced and swatted it into an open net.
“It felt really good to get a good start and give us the spark we needed,” said Brunnstrom, who had one goal in his previous seven games. “Parrish played great and we knew it would be a tough game, so its nice to get this win and we need to build on this now.”
Dallas upped the lead to two on a power play at the 10:44 mark as Parrish netted his first goal in a Stars jersey on his first shot. Avery made a nice backhand pass from behind the net to a wide open Parrish in front, and Parrish slammed a one-timer past Anaheim starting goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere on the short side for his 209th career goal. That snapped a Dallas 0-for-12 drought on the power play.
Anaheim got one back with 2:32 remaining in the period, on Brendan Morrison’s first goal of the season. Turco made a nice arm save on Kent Huskins’ wrist shot from the left face-off circle, but the puck dropped to the ice under him without him realizing it, and Morrison managed to get to the loose puck and poke it in before he could recover.
Dallas restored the two-goal lead, cashing on their second straight power play just 1:13 into the second period. Giguere saved Richards’ slap shot from the point, but the rebound ricocheted to right to Ribeiro in the left circle. Ribeiro quickly relayed a pass in front to Parrish, who popped it past Giguere for a 3-1 lead.
Just 4:39 later, Parrish completed his sixth career hat trick by capitalizing on an uncharacteristic mistake by Anaheim star defenseman Scott Niedermayer. Alone with the puck by the Ducks blue line, Niedermayer stumbled, then fell backwards, allowing Parrish to swoop in and steal the puck. Zooming into the high slot, Parrish unleashed a scorching wrist shot that beat Giguere to the far side.
That prompted Anaheim to pull Giguere after he gave up four goals on 13 shots, with backup Jonas Hiller replacing him.
Turco made a big save with 4:21 left in the period as Teemu Selanne swept in on a partial breakaway, getting off an in-close backhander that Turco stopped with his pad.
The Stars opened the door slightly for a possible Anaheim comeback with back-to-back penalties early in the final period, but killed them off, with Turco making a big save on Selanne about five minutes in.
Richards then extended the lead to four at the 9:01 mark of the third with his fourth goal of the year. He started the play by passing from behind the net to Daley alone in the high slot, but Hiller made a pad save on Daley’s resultant one-timer. The rebound went right to Steve Ott in the right circle, and Ott’s wrist shot managed to squeeze through Hiller and trickled towards the goal line, when Richards dove in there to poke it in.
The Ducks answered with a power play tally 1:34 later on Selanne’s 10th of the season and ninth in his last nine games. Chris Pronger ripped a bomb of a slap shot from just inside the blue line, and Selanne made a slick deflection from the lip of the crease to re-direct it past Turco.
Overall, it was an impressive performance in all aspects of the game by a team that had previously struggled in most of them.
“We took a step in the right direction, we can grab some positives from this,” Tippett said of the Stars’ first of five straight match-ups against Pacific Division rivals. “We need to play well every night, we are not where we want to be in the standings so we have to keep pushing.”
The Stars continue the California portion of the road trip Saturday night in San Jose against the Sharks (9 pm start, FSN), who entered the day first overall in the entire NHL, let alone the Pacific Division, with a 12-2-0 record, including a perfect 8-0-0 at home.
- Defenseman Philippe Boucher earned an assist on Parrish’s first goal, snapping a nine-game scoreless drought. He also got into a rare fight in the second period, squaring off with Brian Sutherby.
- Richards fired a game-high seven shots on goal.
- It was certainly good to see number 56 back in the lineup. While he didn’t come close to his usual ice time numbers, Zubov, who had hip surgery in September and was activated from the IR earlier in the day, still led the club, logging 21:09. That just edged out Morrow’s 21:04.
- Parrish, participating in his 661st career NHL contest, wore uniform number 37. He netted his 38th career game-winning goal and 70th power play tally.
- The power play unit ended the game 2-for-5 and is now 10-for-63 (15.9 percent) on the season.
- The Stars are now 9-2-2 in their last 13 regular season meetings with the Ducks, outscoring them 38-22 over that span. They were 5-2-1 against them last season, and of course, 4-2 in the playoffs.
- Turco went 4-2-1 with one shutout and a 1.85 goals-against average in games against Anaheim last year.