Philadelphia offers a wide range of historical highlights for the visitor, but the Stars have never placed Philly high on their list of favored destinations.
Maybe that has changed.
The Stars reversed their negative Broad Street history on Saturday night, striking for four unanswered goals after giving up a soft one in the first minute for a 4-1 triumph over the Flyers.
Dallas hadn’t won in Philadelphia since the 1993-94 season, the franchise’s first in Dallas, and has posted a scant three victories on the road against the Flyers since 1977-78.
But Jeff Halpern, Jussi Jokinen, Antti Miettinen and Mike Ribeiro contributed goals for the Stars, who stretched their points total to 32 and extended their Pacific Division lead to four points over San Jose and Anaheim.
Nobody thought the current road trip – the most daunting of the season with six games in nine days mostly against Eastern Conference opponents the Stars seldom face – would be a cakewalk.
But expectations were heightened when the journey got off to a rousing start with consecutive wins over the Rangers and Islanders that gave Dallas a six-game winning streak.
The Stars followed with mentally and physically sluggish efforts in consecutive stumbles at New Jersey and Pittsburgh, but their jump returned against the Flyers, who fruitlessly attempted to intimidate the visitors.
Play-by-play man Ralph Strangis called it “get-well night’’ for the Stars, and Strangis was right on target. The road trip ends Monday night in Columbus, and then the Stars open a four-game homestand Wednesday night against San Jose.
“We focused our energy well tonight, toward winning battles and doing the little things,’’ coach Dave Tippett said. “We had max energy and we showed how much we believe in each other after that early goal. One goal wasn’t going to deter us and this was the best game we played on this trip. I hope we can carry this momentum over to Columbus.’’
The Flyers hit the ice well-rested, having been off since Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Stars were in their second back-to-back of the trip.
Marty Turco got the start in goal for the Stars, and he would have loved a mulligan on the Flyers’ fluky first shot.
As was the case on Friday night in Pittsburgh when Sidney Crosby struck 24 seconds after the opening faceoff, Philadelphia grabbed the advantage less than a minute into the first period.
Fans hadn’t even settled in their seats at Wachovia Center when defenseman Randy Jones notched his second goal of the season with a mere 41 ticks off the game clock. Jones flipped a shot toward the cage from a sharp angle below the goal line, with the puck pinballing off a sprawling Turco’s elbow and into the net.
That homely goal certainly got the Stars’ attention, and they dominated the rest of the period, building an 11-4 shots edge.
“I was angry at myself for that early one, but we bounced back and got a big two points,’’ Turco said. “It was a great team effort, nothing spectacular but we did the little things and those add up to wins. We believe in each other and had another good solid road game.’’
Reflecting that territorial edge was Halpern’s deflection off Steve Ott’s centering pass to get the Stars even with about five minutes left in the opening period, Halpern’s sixth of the season.
“It looked eerily like last night with that early goal but we hung in there and ended up playing a solid game,’’ Stars center Mike Modano said. “We dictated play and we were in their zone almost the whole night. Our power play was a big plus for us and it’s nice to get good chances like that on the road.’’
Dallas then grabbed a 2-1 lead less than two minutes into the second period when Jokinen set up in front of the net and artfully deflected the puck out of the air and past goaltender Martin Biron for Jokinen’s 10th of the season.
The Stars kept up the pressure, using a power play that had been 0-for-13 to push the lead to 3-1 on Miettinen’s man-advantage tally from the left circle. Miettinen faked a shot, and Biron bit, with Miettinen finding the range on his second shot with 6:36 left in the second period.
Miettinen missed the first four games of the road trip with a groin injury and he gave his team an energy lift. Miettinen was unable to finish the game, however, sitting out the third period when he re-aggravated the injury.
Ribeiro piled on with another power-play goal with 4:44 left in the second period, nudging the puck into an open net from low in the left circle to take the team lead with 11 for a 4-1 edge.
The Stars were at their defending best in the third period to claim their seventh win in nine games.
1 - 0 PHI
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 DAL
3 - 1 DAL
4 - 1 DAL
Holding the stick