After an impressive Game 1 win two nights earlier, the Stars weren't satisfied with simply stealing home-ice advantage away from the Anaheim Ducks in their Western Conference Quarterfinal series. The wanted much more, and they certainly got it with another solid performance in a 5-2 win over the Ducks on Saturday night at Honda Center that gave the Stars a commanding 2-0 lead over the defending Stanley Cup-champions in the best-of-seven-series.
Mike Ribeiro had a goal and two assists, Brad Richards and Loui Eriksson each had a goal and assist, and Jere Lehtinen and Mike Modano also scored for Dallas, which hadn't won the first two games of a playoff series since advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals for the second straight year in 2000.
Marty Turco was once again strong in the nets in making 20 saves, as the energetic and entertaining series now shifts to Dallas for the next two contests, with Game 3 set for Tuesday night at American Airlines Center (7:30, FSN).
"I said from the start that it would be good to start on the road in a hostile environment and dig in together," Modano said. "We are focusing now on Tuesday, and it is huge to work this hard and head home up 2-0."
Unlike Thursday's rout, this one was a roller coaster ride for the Stars for two periods. After grabbing a two-goal lead early in the second period, Dallas' momentum was throttled when the Ducks scored twice later in the middle frame. But after a couple of spurts in which they persevered through Anaheim's attempt to take its first lead of the series, the Stars scored twice in a 55-second span in the third to take a major step toward winning their first playoff series since 2003.
"Every year is a different year, and every year has a different feeling," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "Hopefully this team is finding its way. We still have a long way to go. I love the way we came in here and competed, but they are the defending Cup champs, and we still have a lot of work to do. This series is just getting going."
Through the first two games of the series, the Stars have played little like the team that limped into the playoffs after a subpar March. Instead of playing it safe and losing leads in the third period like they were prone to do last month, these playoff Stars have shown none of that conservatism.
"We've learned a lot in the past and it's come in handy the last two games," Modano said. "Our young guys are playing real well, and after some years of not meeting expectations we are playing real well together."
Having their two-goal lead evaporate against the best playoff team in the league the past two seasons? No problem. The Stars just regrouped, reloaded and re-took their lost advantage with the help of a three-goal third period that unglued the Ducks.
"We kept hearing that they were going to come out strong, but we said why can't we come out strong?" Tippett said. "That was our mindset from the beginning of the game and we kept that throughout."
Fittingly it was Modano, the face of the franchise for nearly two decades, that gave the Stars a 3-2 lead with a power-play goal 5:47 into the third. Then it was Richards, the former playoff MVP who the Stars acquired at the trade deadline, who pushed the lead to 4-2 just under a minute later. And finally Eriksson, the soft-spoken forward that has rewarded the team's patience with him by scoring a goal in each of the first two games of the series, put the dagger in.
"We dictated a lot of the play and we haven't been intimidated by them," Richards said. "It's been a struggle to fit in with the losses at the end of the year, but we are rolling three lines right now and we need to keep it going. We know it's only two games and they are the defending champs, so they can definitely rally, but we want to keep this going."
The Stars' power play also played a major role in the win, as Dallas scored twice on six man-advantage opportunities after netting four power-play goals in Game 1.
Teemu Selanne and Travis Moen, meanwhile, scored for the Ducks, who came in with an unblemished 5-0 mark in games following a playoff loss. Goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere finished with 25 saves.
The Ducks have been down 2-0 four times in franchise history, and have failed to come back and win the series on all four occasions.
"It doesn't matter what the score in the game or the series is," Turco said. "We've collected two big wins here, but we know we have a lot of work left to go. They came out strong again and you have to give them credit, but it's all about sticking with it and we've done a good job of that."
Modano made it 3-2 when his blistering slap shot from the middle of the blueline beat Giguere while the Stars were on the power play. Richards upped the advantage by snapping a wrister through Giguere's legs from the right circle, and Eriksson capped the scoring at 14:36 of the third with a wrist shot from the low slot.
"It's been physical, so you have to skate and keep working," Eriksson said. "It's great for us, we've played two solid games and we are gaining some confidence. We have to go home and keep playing hard because we know the Ducks are going to keep fighting."
Up by a goal after the first 20 minutes, the Stars cashed in on another power play opportunity, with Lehtinen's second goal of the series making it 2-0. Defenseman Stephane Robidas' shot from the point was originally stopped by Giguere, but the robust goalie couldn't corral the rebound. Lehtinen neatly flicked in the loose puck from in tight to double Dallas' lead just 1:28 into the second.
The Ducks scored their first goal of the series when Selanne potted a power-play goal 2:13 later to make it 2-1. Parked to the left of the net, Selanne was able to deflect defenseman Scott Niedermayer's shot from the middle of the blueline over Turco, who got a piece of the puck before it went into the net.
Anaheim then tied it at 2 when Moen scored with 3:41 left in the middle frame. Seconds after his penalty expired, Todd Bertuzzi picked up the puck in the neutral zone and skated into the Dallas zone before feeding Moen on the right wing. Moen drove to the net on his backhand, then brought the puck to his forehand and stuffed it between the left post and Turco's outstretched right leg.
The Stars jumped on the board first with Ribeiro's first goal of the series at 6:28 of the first. Ribeiro intercepted Ducks defenseman's Francois Beauchemin short little pass along the Stars blueline and was off to the races, outskating Beauchemin en-route to Giguere. Ribeiro made a slight move before bringing the puck to his backhand and lifting it over Giguere's left shoulder.
Despite the big lead, though, the Stars aren't taking anything for granted as the teams head to North Texas for the next two pivotal contests.
"We can't look too far ahead," captain Brenden Morrow said. "They are a heck of a team, but we just are playing with an edge and playing to our strengths. We've played our game to a 'T' the first two games here. We are winning the individual battles and showing a lot of desperation and competitiveness."
--Dallas is 8-2 in its last 10 playoff series when winning Game 2, and is now 13-6 in Game 2's since 1998.
--Lehtinen's goal was his 25th of the postseason, tying Joe Nieuwendyk for seventh place on the Stars all-time playoff goal-scoring list.
--Modano added to his franchise record with his 54th playoff tally, and scored his 13th postseason game-winner, also tops in team history.
--Ribeiro has registered five points in the series.
--Robidas has picked up four assists in the first two games after registering two more assists on Saturday.
--Joel Lundqvist added two assists, and now has four career playoff points.
--Dallas outshot the Ducks by a 30-22 margin.
--The Stars won three of the four games with the Ducks that were played in Dallas this season.
--Scratched for Dallas for the second straight game were defensemen Mark Fistric and Nolan Baumgartner, and forwards Krys Barch, Brad Winchester and Antti Miettinen.