DALLAS - There hasn't been much Happy in the Stars' New Years celebrations over the last four games played on the final day of December. That changed on Wednesday.
Loui Eriksson scored twice, and Brad Richards had three assists in Dallas' 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on New Year's Eve 2008 at American Airlines Center.
The surging Stars won for the fifth time in their last six home games, and improved to 16-15-5 overall during an impressive 5-1-1 span since the middle of the month.
With the win, Dallas climbed out of last place in the Pacific Division, leapfrogging Los Angeles. The Stars now have 37 points, one better than the Kings.
"We had a lot of guys bring good energy tonight," coach Dave Tippett said. "That was a good team win. We had strong contributions throughout the lineup and we need that right now."
Landon Wilson and Mark Parrish also scored, and Marty Turco made 25 saves for the Stars, who had earned just a lackluster 0-3-1 mark in the last four games played on Dec. 31 coming in. But against the Devils, the Stars rang in the new by playing like old.
Using a tenacious forecheck that has always been one of this team's trademarks, the Stars turned the game around in the second period when they outshot the Devils by a whopping 19-2 margin after taking the territorial play away from a New Jersey team that played the night before in St. Louis.
Dallas, which began the second period down 2-1, began to buzz around the New Jersey end relentlessly, and stung any Devils player that attempted to control the puck en route to taking a 3-2 lead on goals by Wilson and Parrish.
"It was the worst period of hockey we played all year," Devils coach Brent Sutter said. "They worked hard and competed hard, and we didn't match it. We just weren't very good outside of our goaltender."
"In the second period we started moving our feet," Richards said. "It didn't matter who went over the boards. We killed some penalties, and the winning goal came on the power play. More importantly, we controlled the puck and got momentum."
About the only thing Dallas did wrong was not generating a scoring chance when it had a two-man advantage during a 70-second span that bridged the second and third periods.
Turco preserved the win with a scintillating save on Patrick Elias, who was sprung free at the Dallas blue line on a breakaway with three minutes left in regulation. Elias tried slipping the puck through Turco's pads with one hand, but Turco closed them quick enough to deny the opportunity.
"When you got a guy on you, the element of surprise on the poke check works," Turco said. "I'm not sure if he meant to shoot it then or if he lost the puck, but I just squeezed the pads. When I heard the fans cheer I knew that was a good thing."
Eriksson capped the night with an empty-net goal with 41 seconds to go. It was his second goal of the night, and team-leading 20th of the season.
"His all-around play has been phenomenal," winger Steve Ott said about Eriksson. "He's easily our MVP horse right now. We were a cellar team three weeks ago and now we're looking ahead and not behind."
Mike Motteau and David Clarkson scored for the Devils, who had their two-game winning streak snapped while losing for only the third time in the last nine games against Dallas since beating the Stars in the 2000 Stanley Cup Finals. Goalie Scott Clemmensen finished with 40 saves.
"We didn't play good in the second period," Clemmensen said. "They took the momentum and ran with it."
Down by a goal after one period, the Stars knotted things up 2-2 on Wilson's second goal 5:39 into the second stanza. After doing a quick spin to get away from a New Jersey defenseman in front of the net, Wilson shoveled in Mike Ribeiro's perfect pass from the right of Clemmensen.
Dallas regained its lead, 3-2, on Parrish's fifth goal of the year on the power play with just over 10 minutes left in the second. Parrish buried home a rebound after Clemmensen stopped consecutive shots by Richards and Stephane Robidas.
"It was nice to contribute but it was nicer to get two points and get a win into the new year," Parrish said. "I think you can see it, and you can feel it. There's a confidence that wasn't here a few weeks ago. Actions speak louder than words. You can tell how we're moving forward in the third instead of just hanging on."
Eriksson opened the scoring 10 minutes into the first period while the Stars were shorthanded. Eriksson raced down the right wing before accepting a pass from Trevor Daley just over the New Jersey blue line. On his off-wing, Eriksson still was able to let a quick snap shot go from the inner edge of the right circle that beat Clemmensen.
New Jersey tied the game on Mottau's first goal of the year with 2:30 remaining in the first period. Mottau cruised in from the right point and into the high slot before letting a wrist shot go that eluded a screened Turco.
Clarkson gave New Jersey its first lead of the game with a power play goal with just 23.6 seconds left in the opening frame. Clarkson banged home a rebound from in tight after Turco stopped Dainius Zubrus redirection of Brian Gionta's pass from the top of the left circle.
"You can see it, we're playing much better and we need it," Turco said. "Tonight was a big win for us. We need the points. It's also great for our fans on New Year's Eve. It's a lot of fun for them, and we are happy to win for them."
The Stars now hit the highway and begin a four-game road trip on Saturday in Edmonton against the Oilers (10 p.m., FSN). They'll follow that game up with an encounter against the Canucks on Sunday.
Edmonton had won three of its last four heading into Wednesday night's game against Calgary.
The trip will also take the Stars to Detroit and Phoenix over the next week.
"We've played nine good periods since Christmas and it was a huge two points right now," Richards said. "We're coming up on the dog days of hockey."
--It was the 11th consecutive game the Stars hosted on New Year's Eve. They're now 6-3-2 during that stretch.
--Daley played in his 300th career NHL game.
--Defenseman Darryl Sydor is two games shy of 1,200 NHL games.
--Eriksson's first goal was Dallas' first shorthanded tally of the season.
--The Stars are 12-3-1 when scoring first.
--Parrish's last goal was at Phoenix on Nov. 15, a span of 16 games.
--The Stars fired 44 shots on goal, a new season high. They've now outshot their opponent in four straight games.
--The two shots allowed in the second period were the fewest the Stars have allowed in a period this season.
--Turco is 6-1-1 in his last eight starts.
--Both teams converted on one of their four power-play opportunities.