Stars 5, Ducks 3
Something special always seems to happen in Dallas on New Year's Eve.
continued a Stars tradition of memorable performances on the last day of the calendar year by recording his second career hat trick, and Dallas won its second straight game with a 5-3 victory over the Anaheim Ducks at American Airlines Center on Thursday night.
Ten years after Hall of Famer Brett Hull scored his 600th career NHL goal against these same Ducks, and nine years following current general manager Joe Nieuwendyk's hat trick in a 6-1 rout of the New York Rangers, Eriksson closed out the decade with another spectacular show.
He scored three times in the opening 32 minutes, and recorded a three-goal game a year and two weeks after his first, which occurred last year against Columbus.
"It's always fun to score a hat trick," Eriksson said. "I even had some more chances out there. Obviously, when we get the win also it's even more fun."
Eriksson helped the Stars -- hosting a New Year's Eve game for the 12th straight time -- win for the eighth time in the last 13 tries on Dec. 31.
He completed his hat trick with just over 8 minutes left in the second with his 16th of the season. From the right corner, Brad Richards
sent a slick cross-ice pass to Eriksson, who blew past Anaheim defenseman Ryan Whitney on his way to the net to tap in the perfect feed on the outskirts of the crease.
"Loui had some great chances," Richards said. "In the second period there, I think we as a team had tons of chances, and that's why we took over the game. We could have scored more, but scoring five is a lot in this league right now and we got the win."
The electric offensive output also capped a stirring week for Eriksson, who over the weekend was also named to the Swedish Olympic team that will compete in Vancouver in February.
"It's huge to go and play in the Olympics for your home country, and it's going to be fun to play in Canada, too," he said. "It's going to be really crowded, and there's a lot of people going there to watch the games, so that's going to be awesome. I'm really looking forward to that."
Richards had a goal and two assists, and Stephane Robidas
added a goal and assist for a surging Stars team that is hitting their stride as they head into January. After a disappointing stretch in which it went 2-2-4, Dallas has won three of four to stay in contention for eighth place in the Western Conference, and eyeing even more.
"We need to put some in the bank here," Richards said. "It's going to be a dogfight right to the end. There's a lot of teams in it, and we've got another big one coming up. We've got to keep our foot on the gas."
Marty Turco finished with 31 saves.
"I thought we did a great job of responding to a lot of things," Dallas coach Marc Crawford said. "I thought we really did skate, and the skating advantage that we had really showed up in the offensive zone. When we used our speed, we kept our feet moving. We created a lot of offensive chances and gave them a little trouble."
Richards upped Dallas' lead to 5-2 with a slap shot from the point on the power play with 6:14 left in regulation before Saku Koivu cut the lead with his second goal of the game with just under 3 minutes to go.
Mike Brown also scored, and Jonas Hiller made 37 saves for the Ducks.
"We just didn't seem to be able to get a hold of the puck," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. "We lost all of the faceoffs. They moved it around, and we didn't do a very good job of boxing out or getting involved physically."
With the game tied after 20 minutes, Brown gave the Ducks a 2-1 edge with his fourth of the season 2:15 into the second. Off a 3-on-2 rush, he was able to slip a wrist shot between Turco's pads from the right circle to give Anaheim its first and only lead of the game.
Eriksson tied it with his second of the game at 6:19 of the middle frame. After receiving a pass at the blue line from Jere Lehtinen, Eriksson muscled away from Ducks defenseman Sheldon Brookbank and one-handed a sweep attempt from in tight that squirted through Hiller's pads.
"I kind of lost it there and I don't know what happened," Eriksson said. "I went five-hole, right between his legs. I think he kicked the puck in the net, so it was pretty lucky."
Dallas then regained its lead when Robidas notched his 10th just 30 seconds later. From the right point, his shot ricocheted off Anaheim defenseman Nick Boynton's left skate before going into the net.
The Stars opened the scoring while shorthanded when Eriksson popped in his first of the game 6:16 into the contest. Down a man, Mike Ribeiro
and Eriksson took off on a 2-on-1 break with Ducks defenseman Scott Niedermayer back. Ribeiro lugged the puck down the right wing before sending a perfect pass to Eriksson, who easily redirected the feed in from in tight.
"It was a great pass," Eriksson said. "He put it on my stick, so it was a pretty easy one."
Koivu tied it at 1 with 4:31 left in the first. Bobby Ryan outmaneuvered Richards behind the net and was able to send the puck to the front, with Koivu collecting and ultimately lifting the puck over Turco, who was on his stomach.
The Stars will enjoy New Year's Day off before hosting Vancouver on Saturday afternoon at American Airlines Center (1 p.m., FSN). The Canucks entered Thursday's action in seventh place in the Western Conference, two points ahead of Dallas.
Vancouver beat St. Louis in overtime on Thursday night.
"We had two straight good games here now, and it picks our confidence a little more up," Eriksson said. "We have to keep building on that and get ready against Vancouver."
--Defenseman Mark Fistric
was activated off injured reserve prior to the game, and was in the lineup after missing five games because of a head injury.
--The Stars have recorded four hat tricks on Dec. 31, tying March 21 as the date with the second-most Dallas hat tricks. The Stars have five hat tricks on Dec. 23.
--Lehtinen contributed a pair of assists.
--The Stars fired 19 shots on Hiller in the second period.
--It's the first time Dallas has won consecutive games since beating New Jersey and Carolina from Nov. 21-23.
--Robidas set a new career-high with his 10th goal of the season, eclipsing the nine he scored in 2007-08. His assist also gave him 27 points, also a new career high.
--Brian Sutherby and Brown got into a first-period scrap. Sutherby played 62 games for the Ducks over two seasons before coming to Dallas.
--Steve Ott and Kyle Chipchura exchanged punches with a bout t minutes into the third, and Ott and Boynton scrapped with 5 minutes to go in regulation.
--Dallas was whistled for only two minor penalties.
--The teams will play each other two more times during an 11-day stretch starting on March 29.
--The Stars are 8-1-2 in their last 11 at American Airlines Center.
--Dallas is 10-3-2 in its last 15 games on New Year's Eve, and 16-11-3 all time on Dec. 31.
--The Stars ended the decade with 396 wins, the fifth-most in the NHL.
|Three star selections