Brenden Morrow talked about the veterans needing to pick up the slack in order for the Stars to get out of this early-season funk. Right on cue, the old guys came through in Manhattan.
Mike Modano snapped a third-period tie, Morrow scored a second-period power-play goal, and goalie Marty Turco made 28 saves in Dallas' efficient 2-1 win over the New York Rangers on Monday night.
The win was the Stars (2-3-1) first on the road, and stopped a two-game losing streak that had many followers wondering what was going on with a team that came within two games of reaching the Stanley Cup Finals last season.
"We've had a frustrating start but tonight things went our way," Morrow said. "We kept working on making things go our way, and finally it did tonight. We just found a way to keep pushing and win the game. We're going to try and build confidence off this one and continue jelling together as the group we know we can be."
Dallas couldn't have gotten their three-game tour of the New York City area off to a better start than with a matchup with the Rangers at Madison Square Garden, the legendary arena that has treated the Stars just fine as of late. Dallas has now won four of its last six at MSG, including two straight.
"We needed to tighten things up a little, play smarter and play together," said Modano, who has six points in six games. "We stayed close in the game, kept things 5-on-5, and got a power play goal. That was huge for us. We wanted to take time and space away from them, which we did a pretty good job."
Against a Rangers team that came in leading the league with 13 points, the Stars were able to clean up plenty of areas that have been plaguing them during a sluggish start. Dallas was able to score with the man advantage, score in the second period, and play a stingy defensive game that has always been their staple.
"That's the way Dallas plays," Rangers coach Tom Renney said. "They're a fundamentally sound team, and they don't make mistakes."
But perhaps the best answer they had was the solid play of Turco, who's been shaky at best early on. The beleaguered goalie certainly answered the bell on Monday, making the scintillating, routine, and any save in between throughout the evening.
After allowing Markus Naslund to score on the first shot of the game just under a minute in, Turco clamped down and steadily began spitting pucks out.
"It was much needed," Turco said. "You've gotta want it. Things weren't clicking, and when you get in those doldrums you have to earn your way out of it. It's still only one game, but it was a step in the right direction. That's the most important thing -- getting back on track. It's a good feeling."
Turco kept the game tied at 1 with a terrific point-blank save on Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky with 16 minutes to go in regulation after Dubinsky made a great move around Matt Niskanen, then got a little help from his friends over the final minute of play when the Rangers pulled goalie Henrik Lundqvist for the extra attacker. The Stars defensive five allowed just a weak shot to help secure the big win.
"It was a good game and a good win for us," coach Dave Tippet said. "The game had good pace. We beat a pretty good team over there. Turco was solid tonight, and that's what we've been looking for from him. He needs a game like that."
The 19-year-vet Modano, meanwhile, continues to feed off young linemates B.J. Crombeen and James Neal. His third goal of the year with 12 minutes to go was the winner, and came with assists from the kids.
From the left boards Neal pushed the puck to Crombeen behind the goal line near the left corner. Crombeen sent a pass to the front of the net that Lundqvist batted right to Modano, who was standing inside the left circle. Modano ripped a wicked wrist shot past the Rangers netminder, the first Stars shot of the third period.
"You hang around the slot something good's going to happen. It came right to me," Modano said. "Once we got that one goal cushion it was lock it down time. We've had a tough start so we needed to play a tight game."
Lundqvist finished with 25 saves.
"We got on the same page and started clicking," Turco said. "There was no panic, and now we have some confidence going into the rest of the trip."
The game also marked the return of Sean Avery, who played the past two seasons for the Rangers, accumulating 53 points and 212 penalty minutes for the Blueshirts. There was a scattering of boos every time Avery touched the puck, but the winger was greeted with some applause early on as well.
"It was nice to get back, and to get back and start something with my new team," Avery said. "I've got a big dinner ticket to pick up now. I was enjoying the boos just as much as the cheers. I'm with a new organization that I'm excited about."
Morrow tied it with his second of the year, displaying a tremendous individual effort on the play. While the Stars were enjoying the man advantage, Fabian Brunnstrom sent a slick no-look, behind-the-back pass from down low to Morrow, who was falling to the ice after being upended by Rangers defenseman Daniel Girardi. While lying on his side, Morrow shoveled the puck past Lundqvist from in tight.
Naslund opened the scoring with his second of the year just 58 seconds into the game. With Loui Eriksson in the penalty box for a tripping penalty, the Rangers went on the attack. Defenseman Michal Rozsival's blast from the middle of the blueline went off the endboards and right to Naslund, who was standing to the left of Turco. Naslund, in turn, batted the puck in for a 1-0 lead.
"We stuck with the game," Tippett said. "This gave us some confidence and shows what we are capable of. We got some strong intelligent play, and that's a good sign for our team. It's huge to start the trip with a win."
Dallas will continue its New York odyssey when it faces the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night (6, FSN). It will be the first of two meeting with the Devils this season.
New Jersey is off to a hot start, winning four of it first five games to start the year. The Devils will be coming off a four-game road trip in which they went 3-1.
--It was the eighth anniversary of Turco's first career win at Chicago in 2000.
Turco and Avery celebrate the Stars road victory
--Forward Jere Lehtinen isn't on the trip because of his groin injury. He's now missed all six games to start the year.
--Center Toby Petersen returned to Dallas to be with his wife, who is expecting the couple's second child.
--Defenseman Doug Janik was the other scratch for the Stars after taking a sharp edge of a broken stick off his face in Saturday's loss to Colorado.
--The Rangers last win against Dallas in New York was in Nov. 2003.
--These two teams will meet again in Dallas in February.
--Dallas converted one of its three power-play opportunities, while the Rangers were 1-of-2 with the man advantage.
--Modano is now 11 points shy of 1,300 for his career.
--Morrow has points in five of the first six games (2-3-5).
Wrist shot -