Heading into their playoff game with Anaheim, the Dallas Stars wanted to weather the defending Stanley Cup champs' expected storm during the opening 10 minutes of the first period. They did just that -- and much more.
Steve Ott, Loui Eriksson, Jere Lehtinen and Brenden Morrow all scored power-play goals, and Marty Turco made 23 saves for his fourth career playoff shutout in the Stars impressive 4-0 win over the Ducks in Game 1 of their best-of-seven first round series on Thursday night at Honda Center.
Morrow, Mike Ribeiro and Stephane Robidas each added a pair of helpers for Dallas, which won the opening game of a playoff series for the first time since 2001. The Stars will look to sweep the first two games in Anaheim when the teams meet again for Game 2 on Saturday night (9 p.m., my27)
"We couldn't have drawn it up any better tonight," Morrow said. "We stayed disciplined and took advantage on the power play. I can't remember the last time we won Game 1, but everyone contributed and played their roles. It was a huge confidence builder for us."
J.S. Giguere finished with 33 saves for the Ducks, who lost for only the 13th time in their past 38 playoff games.
After enduring a rough first 11 minutes in which the Ducks outshot them 8-2, the Stars put things in overdrive over the next 22 minutes that bridged the first and second periods. Not only did they score three times with the man advantage to stun the Ducks and take total control of the contest, they also didn't allow a shot.
The beleaguered Ducks were able to generate more offense after that game-turning and pivotal stretch, but that's when Turco took over. He spit out puck after puck, making big saves before Morrow scored on the power play with less than three minutes to go in the middle frame to give the Stars a commanding 4-0 lead.
"Marty was great at first, he's been great all year, and this was just another game for him," Ott said.
As time expired in that second period, the raucous sellout crowd booed the Ducks off the ice. Fitting, especially since the chances of a comeback from the lowest-scoring team in the postseason were slim to none.
"We had some fortunate bounces, but everybody was really good," said Stars coach Dave Tippett, who won his first Game 1 of his coaching career. "It was a solid team effort, and you need that to win in the playoffs."
While the undisciplined Ducks were filling the penalty box by attempting to physically manhandle the Stars, Dallas was busy filling the net. They finished 4-for-7 with the man advantage, and just missed tying a franchise record for most power play goals in a playoff game. Their pinpoint passing and execution had the Ducks defenders befuddled, and they consistently beat Anaheim to loose pucks while skating circles around a team that looked more like a squad that was eligible for the NHL draft lottery that was held earlier this week.
"I think we had confidence coming in, but you earn that confidence," Tippett said. "We know that we have the capabilities to win, and we had a solid effort throughout."
Up by two after the first period, the Stars increased their edge to 3-0 on Lehtinen's power play goal just four minutes into the second. Standing near the bottom of the right circle towards the front of the net, Lehtinen quickly let go a wrist shot that beat Giguere high after Lehtinen received Ribeiro's pass from behind the goal line.
Morrow cashed in with power-play goal No. 4 with 2:38 left in the second on one of the prettiest passing plays of the game. Lehtinen started it with a sharp pass from the left circle to Ribeiro, who was open to the left of Giguere. Rather than trying to jam the puck past the burly goalie, Ribeiro fed a driving Morrow in the slot, and Morrow made no mistake with a hard shot along the ice.
"Ribeiro, (Brad) Richards and a few of the guys had some time and space, and they are always going to do something when they have that," Turco said.
"The power play was huge tonight, but you can't expect that every night," added defenseman Philippe Boucher. "We didn't have to kill too many, and it was good to not allow them many chances. Special teams are a huge factor and we'll take this and move on."
The Stars opened the scoring on Ott's power play goal at 11:25 of the first. Drifting towards the outer edge of the right circle along the boards, Robidas sent a little wrist shot toward the net that the gritty forward was able to deflect past Giguere.
"Anytime you score a goal in the playoffs is great," Ott said. "As long as it goes in the net, that's all we care about."
"We just played a simple game," added Robidas. "They forecheck hard, but we put the puck at the net and got some good bounces. We wanted to take advantage of those power plays because they come at you and play physically. We know its going to be a tough series going forward."
Dallas' power play struck again when Eriksson increased the Stars lead to 2-0 with his first career playoff goal. The play began with Mike Modano lugging the puck into the Ducks zone before being taken out by Anaheim defenseman Scott Niedermayer, with Modano sustaining a bloody nose on the collision. Soon thereafter, the puck wound up on Eriksson's stick in the slot, and the Swedish winger's connected with a hard wrist shot.
"Winning this is just one game, and we have to keep it going," said Turco, who has four shutouts in his last eight postseason games dating back to last spring. "The whole team for Game 1 came out and really played well. We stuck to our game plan, and this is a good step for us."
"We believe in each other in here and we have a pretty balanced group," Ott said. "It's only Game 1, it's going to be a tight series, and we need to be ready for Saturday night."
-- Since moving to Texas in 1993, Dallas is 8-1 in playoff series when winning Game 1.
--The last time Dallas scored four power-play goals in the playoffs was in Game 2 of its first-round series against San Jose in 1998.
--The Stars scored five power-play goals in their 6-0, Game 5 win over Chicago in the first round of the playoffs in 1991.
--Despite being dominated in all facets of the game, somehow Anaheim forward Brad May was selected as the second star.
--Ott's goal was originally credited to Robidas before being changed during the first intermission.
--Turco improved to 12-14 in the postseason, and captured a Game 1 decision for the first time in his career.
--The Stars had lost their last six Game 1 decisions, last winning an opening game against Edmonton in 2001.
--Dallas outshot Anaheim by a 27-23 margin. "We limited their shots, Marty was great, and now we have to keep building and keep working," forward Stu Barnes said.
--Scratched for Dallas were defensemen Mark Fistric and Nolan Baumgartner, and forwards Krys Barch, Brad Winchester and Antti Miettinen.
--The Ducks were held scoreless on all three of their power play attempts.