The intimidation tactics not only didn’t work, they backfired on the Anaheim Ducks.
Connecting three times on the power play, the Dallas Stars made the overly-aggressive Ducks pay for their transgressions, defeating Anaheim 4-2 Friday night at the Honda Center.
Defenseman Stephane Robidas scored two power play goals, both on slaps shots from the point, for his first career two-goal game, while Mike Ribeiro contributed a goal and two assists. Mike Modano, skating in his 1,300th career game, added two assists, as did Jere Lehtinen.
The Ducks put the Stars on five power plays, including two lengthy 5-on-3 advantages, by taking several aggressive penalties, and Dallas capitalized to snap Anaheim’s five-game winning streak. Dallas, who had their own franchise-record-tying seven game winning streak broken one night earlier in Phoenix, extended their lead over the Ducks atop the Pacific Division to six points, with San Jose seven back.
“Robi made the most of his power play opportunity and had two real good shots go in,” Stars coach Dave Tippett said. “There are different ways to win a game and we needed the power play to be big tonight and it was. We capitalized on our opportunities and the power play got us the goals we needed.”
In goal, Marty Turco rebounded from allowing four goals the night before in Phoenix to turn aside 20 shots in an impressive performance, earning his 200th career victory in the process.
“People don’t realize some of the plays Robi makes,” Turco said. “He cleans up rebounds and plays solid every night and deserves all the ice time he gets. He is making a major difference for us. I felt good from the onset tonight and we just stuck with it, got some power play goals and earned two big points. We battled hard and won in an intense building and a good atmosphere.”
Chris Kunitz had both Anaheim goals while Corey Perry earned two assists.
Robidas, in addition to his two big goals, also had an assist, matching career highs with the two goals and with three points. He also played aggressively and solid in the defensive zone.
“It’s always nice to help the team win and we put in a better effort than last night,” Robidas said. “We were shaky in the first but we gained confidence, worked hard and Marty was really good. Everybody chipped in and that’s the key to our success.”
Entering the middle period tied 1-1, the Stars nearly fell behind again just 50 seconds in, as Anaheim winger Teemu Selanne, skating in just his sixth game since coming out of semi-retirement, could not find an open net. After Todd Bertuzzi slid a pretty backhand cross-ice pass to Selanne all alone at the left side of the crease, Trevor Daley managed to get his stick in the way of Selanne’s shot, deflecting it just wide of the open net.
“We took two or three penalties there that gave them some momentum,” Tippett said. “But I thought as soon as we killed those penalties, we came out and had two or three great shift and we grabbed the momentum back. We found a way to win.”
Dallas then surged ahead 2-1 on Robidas’ first power play goal of the period at 4:56, as he drilled a slap shot from 50 feet that sailed over the glove hand of screened Anaheim netminder Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
The Stars then avoided disaster just 50 seconds later, as Turco was almost burned by his aggressive puck-handling for the second time in the contest. After stopping a dump-in about 10 feet in front of his crease, Turco put the puck down and attempted to fire a long pass up the middle, but a charging Ryan Getzlaf knocked it down and fired at the vacated net, but fortunately for Dallas, the puck pinged off the far post and went wide.
The Ducks gained some momentum after that and came close to cashing in with 12:37 left in the second while on a power play. Kunitz attacked the net from the right side of the crease, whipping a quick shot short-side, but it rang off the post and trickled behind Turco in the crease, where it lay for an tantalizing moment before Turco covered it.
Turco made another big stop on Selanne with 3:05 remaining in the period, as Selanne worked his way around Robidas in the left face-off circle before cutting in on goal, but Turco denied his in-close wrist shot.
The Stars then found themselves with another two-man advantage, this one for 1:28, after Francois Beauchemin cross-checked Brenden Morrow face-first into the boards. This time, it took just 27 seconds for Dallas to capitalize, as Robidas unleashed another bomb of a slap shot from the middle of the ice about 50 feet out. With Morrow providing the screen in front again, this one managed to squeeze through Giguere and trickled over the goal line for a 3-1 Stars lead with just 1:39 left in the second.
“I had good screens in front on both goals and guys paid the price in front, which was huge,” Robidas said. “I had a hat trick in juniors and it obviously crossed my mind tonight, but I was more excited about the win.”
Taking the two-goal lead into the third, Dallas had to fend off a surging Anaheim club through most of the period.
With the Ducks on the power play 2:45 in, Mathieu Schneider drilled a wicked slap shot from the just inside the blue line, which was deflected in front by Bertuzzi, trickled just wide past the far post.
A minute later, rookie Ryan Carter spun and fired a tricky wrist shot from the slot that forced Turco to make a tough sprawling save. Brian Sutherby cruised through the crease looking for the loose rebound, but Turco managed to smother it before he could get to it.
About seven minutes into the third, Turco made another big save, after Travis Moen got around rookie defenseman Mark Fistric in the right face-off circle and cut into the crease, but another sprawling save by Turco preserved the two-goal lead.
Anaheim managed to cut into the Dallas lead as Kunitz collected his second goal of the game and 18th of the season with 8:42 to go in regulation. After Getzlaf passed out from behind the net, Kunitz wound up for a slap shot from a fairly sharp angle low in the left circle that pinballed off defenseman Nicklas Grossman’s skate in front and past Turco just inside the far post.
With the Ducks now within one and controlling the momentum, the intensity level ratcheted up another notch. Turco made a big pad save on Bertuzzi’s one-timer just to the left of the net after Getzlaf fed him from behind the net with 6:35 left.
A minute and a half later, the Stars got a scare when Fistric was hit in the face by an errant high-stick in front of the Dallas net, and stayed down for several moments while play continued around him. But in true gritty fashion, Fistric slowly struggled to his feet and seconds later, blocked a shot and managed to clear the zone before stumbling off the ice. He did skate one more shift for just 10 seconds before the game ended, so he seemed to be okay.
As the Ducks continued to press down the stretch, they pulled Giguere for an extra attacker with 1:18 remaining. Ott missed a chance at the empty net with 1:02 left, and the Ducks came close on the counter attack 10 seconds later as Kunitz’s deflection of Getzlaf’s wrist shot sizzled just wide.
Then Ott did find the empty net, after racing into the Anaheim zone on a breakaway and depositing the puck in to seal the victory with 17.6 seconds on the clock.
“This was a big game, a good bounce-back game,” Modano said. “Last night was pretty lackluster and to come back and put in an effort like that, it was pretty solid. It’s a real plus for the guys. We played a solid all-around effort.”
The Stars surrendered the game’s first goal for the third consecutive game, as Kunitz scored his first of the night just 3:51 into the contest. Perry stripped rookie Matt Niskanen of the puck in the right corner and quickly fed it out front to a charging Kunitz, who slammed a one-timer past Turco for the quick 1-0 lead.
Turco made a key sliding save just 30 seconds later on Perry’s wraparound attempt at the left post, a play that led to a big fight seconds after that, as Steve Ott and Kunitz squared off in a bout that Kunitz probably had the edge.
Dallas dodged a major bullet with 6:25 remaining, when Turco, out behind the net to play the puck, inadvertently passed it right to Bertuzzi in the left corner. Bertuzzi tried to cut out front with it, but a diving Turco and a sliding Jussi Jokinen combined to block his shot. The puck then bounced out to Selanne, whose quick shot was stopped by Turco’s pad before it was cleared away.
The game’s second fight took place with 5:12 left in the period, as Krys Barch battled Moen, with this one coming out about even.
Turco made a nice stop on Rob Niedermayer just 45 seconds later, absorbing his uncontested wrist shot from the right circle.
As the rough stuff continued, the Stars received the benefits of turning the other cheek as they ended up with a lengthy 5-on-3 power play after Samuel Pahlsson was whistled for roughing with 4:11 to go in the first.
“You don’t want to waste energy getting caught up in anything,” Modano said of the Ducks’ bullying tactics. “You want to keep your composure, keep your discipline, but still you want to be quick and smart.”
Dallas had several opportunities on the resultant advantage from Modano blasts from the point, but eventually capitalized on Ribeiro’s 24th goal of the season with 3:18 left. After holding onto the puck in the right circle for several seconds, Ribeiro simply turned to the net and fired a pinpoint wrist shot through a screen provided by Brenden Morrow that clinked off the far post and in.
“It was crucial for our power play to play well on the road in a tough building,” Modano said. “We worked enough to get power plays and we certainly wanted to take advantage. We wanted to be quick, smart and make the right plays on those 5-on-3s and we did that.”
The Stars nearly took a lead into the first intermission when Mattias Norstrom ripped a quick wrist shot from the left sideboards that Lehtinen deflected in front, but Giguere made a sprawling save. The rebound came out into the slot where Morrow swatted at it, but Giguere stopped that one flat on his stomach.
The Stars now return home to face Detroit in a nationally-televised matchup on NBC Sunday afternoon at the American Airlines Center. The start time is 2:30 pm - it was recently changed, so printed Stars schedules still say 12:00 noon - and will be another major test for the Stars against the NHL’s overall leader, even though the Red Wings are in the midst of a five-game losing streak. Detroit did win both previous games between the teams this season by a combined score of 7-1.
- Ribeiro’s goal was his second in four games after 12 straight outings without one. His three points on the night leaves him with 67 on the season, surpassing his career high of 65 set in 2003-04 when he was with Montreal. He now has 13 points (two goals, 11 assists) in his last nine outings, and leads the entire NHL with 21 assists since New Year’s Day.
- Robidas, who went all of last season without scoring a single goal, now has four - all on the power play - in the last nine games, enabling him to match his career high of six, which he also reached in his rookie season of 2000-01 while in Montreal. Demonstrating his abilities at both ends of the ice, Robidas also had a team-high four hits.
- Turco reached the 200-victory plateau in just 364 games, the second-fastest of any active player, including New Jersey’s legendary Martin Brodeur, who took 367 games. Just Chris Osgood of the Red Wings, who will be in town Sunday, got to the milestone quicker, in just 347 contests. Turco’s total, of course, is the most ever in franchise history.
- Modano, with his third two-point effort in four games, now has six points (one goal, five assists) over that span. That has helped him take over 33rd on the NHL’s all-time list with 1,269 career points.
- Lehtinen’s two assists give him five points (one goal, four assists) in his last four games. He tied with Modano for the club lead with four shots on goal.
- Ott’s goal was his second in three games and 10th of the season, enabled him to reach double digits for the first time in his career.
- The Stars now have a stellar 8-1-1 record in their last 10 against the defending Stanley Cup champions, outscoring the Ducks 30-15 over that span, including a 5-1-0 mark this season.
- After giving up the first goal and coming back to win again, the Stars now have a 16-15-1 record when allowing the opening goal. The 16 wins lead the league.
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