The Dallas Stars got one monkey off their backs Tuesday night as Marty Turco made 36 saves to lead the Stars to a nail-biting 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames at the Pengrowth Saddledome for their second straight win.
It’s the first time they’ve won back-to-back regular games since last February and the fact that it came on a day when they had a major distraction to block out was even more impressive.
Skating one forward short after winger Sean Avery was suspended indefinitely earlier in the day for ugly comments he made at the morning skate, the depleted Stars gutted out another triumph and have now won three of their last four after a difficult 1-4-2 stretch.
“It’s probably not the lineup we projected, but we had some guys play great tonight,” Stars coach Dave Tippett said. “Marty was outstanding, Petersen was very good and we just found a way to win. We overcame some adversity and played Dallas Stars hockey tonight.”
“We have to keep things basic and simple and play smart hockey,” added center Mike Modano. “Marty made some huge saves and we had some gritty goals on second efforts. We supported each other and really played well together. Guys played their roles tonight and we expect everyone to check and play defense, and that’s what’s made this a successful franchise for a lot of years.”
Overall, it was an outstanding team effort with contributions from everybody, although Turco was certainly the focal point, which is a very good sign moving forward.
“You look at the unfolding of the day and we knew what was going on,” Turco said, “and we wanted to come together, focus and play one of our best games. We played our game plan better than we have for a long time, we are overcoming some adversity and get a big win. We will get focused again tomorrow, but I give the boys a lot of credit for playing as well as we did tonight.”
“Turco had to make some very good saves, he held his ground and really did well,” Tippett added. “He cares deeply about this team and he is one of our leaders. He gave us a chance to win and had one of his best games of the year.”
After going 49 NHL games (including playoffs) without a goal dating back to March 2007, Petersen netted his second goal in as many games at 6:14 of the opening period to give the Stars a 1-0 lead. Calgary goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff stopped Stephane Robidas’ slap shot from the top of the right face-off circle, but the rebound ricocheted out into the slot, where Petersen slammed it home.
The Flames nearly tied it a minute later as Mike Cammalleri drilled a slap shot from the left face-off circle that zinged past Turco and clanged off the crossbar.
Kiprusoff then made a huge sliding save on Brad Richards’ one-timer from the right circle with 10:27 remaining in the period to keep the score 1-0.
Turco answered with a spectacular save of his own, repelling Adrian Aucoin’s blistering wrist shot from the slot with Calgary buzzing the Stars’ zone with 30 seconds left.
The Flames evened it up 1:44 into the second period, just one second after a penalty to Robidas expired. Turco made a sliding pad save on Aucoin’s one-timer from the right circle, but David Moss, camped right in front, swiped the rebound through Turco’s legs and in.
Dallas then claimed the lead again at 7:53 on Brunnstrom’s seventh goal of the season. At the Calgary blue line, Brunnstrom received a nice lead pass from Trevor Daley and sped in on a breakaway. Kiprusoff stopped his wrist shot from the slot, but the rebound squirted free and on a great second effort, Brunnstrom reached out with one hand to swipe it on his backhand around Kiprusoff.
“Daley had a great pass and I tried to catch up, get a good shot off and reach for the rebound,” Brunnstrom said. “This was one of our better games, we knew Calgary was a really good team and Marty played great. This was a good win for us.”
Turco made a big save with 6:02 remaining, as he somehow stopped Moss’ wrister from the slot through a screen to keep the Stars ahead.
Despite being outshot 22-13 through two periods, the Stars entered the third with a 2-1 lead.
Turco made back-to-back big saves on Aucoin 4:15 into the final period to keep the Stars ahead and then denied Moss again with 12:33 remaining.
With 11:37 left in regulation, the Stars had a golden opportunity to advance their lead, as they were granted a four-minute power play when Matthew Lombardi high-sticked Chris Conner, drawing blood and knocking loose a tooth or two. The Stars were unable to convert, although they did generate several prime chances, none better than Kiprusoff’s excellent toe save on James Neal’s point-blank wrist shot with 9:18 left.
Calgary nearly got the equalizer again with 3:19 on the clock as Daymond Langkow fired an in-close shot that Turco saved, then barely smothered in the crease as Moss whacked away at it.
The Flames pulled Kiprusoff for an extra attacker with about a minute to go, but never really were able to get a good chance on goal before Eriksson chased down his own clear and tucked in an empty netter with 14.3 seconds left.
The Stars continue their quick tour of Alberta as they head up the road to Edmonton for a return engagement with the Oilers Wednesday night (8:30 pm start, FSN). After defeating Edmonton 4-3 at home on Sunday, the Stars should have plenty of confidence going into the rematch.
- Robidas ended up with two assists in the game after he had picked up two assists in the previous 14 contests.
- Eriksson’s goal was his team-leading 11th and his sixth in the last eight games. It also extended his career-high point streak to six games, during which he’s collected eight points (four goals, four assists).
- Brunnstrom’s goal was his first point in nine games and his second game-winner of the season.
- With his assist on Brunnstrom’s goal, Daley now has four assists in his last six games. Daley logged 24:10 of ice time, second on the team to Mike Ribeiro’s 24:13.
- After going 10 games without a point, defenseman Matt Niskanen, who suited up for his 100th career NHL contest, earned an assist for the second game in a row.
- The game marked the Stars debut of recently-acquired defenseman Andrew Hutchinson. Paired with Darryl Sydor for most of the night, Hutchinson led the team with four shots on goal, after his arrival from Tampa Bay Sunday in a deal for Finnish prospect Lauri Tukonen.
- With the win, the Stars now boast a 13-4-5 record in their last 22 meetings with the Flames, outscoring them 58-42 in those contests.
- Turco came into the game sporting a 12-6-3 lifetime mark against Calgary, including three shutouts and a sparkling 1.84 goals-against average.