One night after a sub-par effort led to the end of their season-long winning streak, the Dallas Stars got mad and delivered a record-breaking performance in response.
Mike Ribeiro scored two goals and two assists and linemates Jere Lehtinen and Steve Ott collected three points each to lead the Stars to a convincing 10-2 victory over the New York Rangers Friday night before a gleeful sold-out crowd at the American Airlines Center.
After dropping a 3-2 decision in Colorado the night before, the Stars responded with an offensive outburst that set a Dallas record with 10 goals, including a whopping six in the third period to blow open what had been a close game.
“Our guys, you could tell, we weren’t satisfied with the way we played (in Colorado),” Stars coach Dave Tippett said. “Our guys came in with a very determined attitude today. Our guys concentrated on the effort and we got a good one.”
“We’ll take it,” Ribeiro said. “We didn’t show up last night. It looked like a close game but we didn’t deserve to win last night, and it was a good effort from everyone. Everyone worked hard and even though they took the lead, 1-0, we kept pushing them. It’s good to see that when you have a bad game, you can come back the way we did.”
The Stars claimed their sixth win in their last seven outings and are now 10-1-1 in their last 12 home contests. Just a couple of months after languishing in 15th (and last) in the Western Conference standings, the club moved into a fifth-place tie with Anaheim and hold the tie-breaker.
In addition to the potent top line’s production, the Stars received production from up and down the lineup.
“It’s nice to get a lot of goals, but all in all we played a solid game tonight,” said Ott, who extended his career-high scoring streak to seven games. “In Colorado we came up very sluggish and we blamed it on a lot of things, but it was nice to come home to a big crowd. The accountability just keeps building our character. It’s nice to see everybody contribute, but our play was key tonight.”
“Obviously, last night was one of those games that we didn’t have it,” added Sydor, who had one assist in his previous seven games. “Tonight, we just worked hard. Our checkers checked, our scorers scored, and even our scorers checked and that’s what we have to do. People got mad at the way we played last night and we came out and played a solid game.”
Meanwhile, at the other end of the ice, goaltender Marty Turco, starting his 22nd consecutive game, made 20 saves for the triumph as the Rangers lost their fourth in a row.
“Embarrassed is a strong word, but that’s where we are,” Rangers center Scott Gomez said. “No one’s going to feel sorry for us. We got to pick it up and we know it.”
One of the keys to the game was that the Stars connected for four goals on the power play against the Rangers’ penalty killing unit, which entered the day ranked first in the entire NHL.
“I think what we did was we shot the puck and we won the battles,” Sydor noted. “Last night on our power play, we were missing passes, our attention to detail wasn’t there, they were winning the races to the pucks and tonight, we were. It was just work - it always comes down to hard work and attention to detail.”
Leading 3-1 going into the second period after outshooting the Rangers 17-8 in the first, the Stars found themselves short-handed early and the Rangers cashed in on their man-advantage. With Modano feeling shame due to a slashing call, Nikolai Zherdev connected for his second goal from behind the goal line at 3:05. As he stood to the left of the goal behind the line, Zherdev quickly relayed Michal Roszival’s pass from the left point into the crease and the puck again pinballed off Turco’s far skate and in.
The fate of the game ultimately hinged on the prime opportunity the Rangers had when a cross-checking penalty on Dallas defenseman Nicklas Grossman gave New York a 5-on-3 advantage for a full 1:45.
But Dallas killed it off, with the Rangers’ best chance coming on a New York 2-on-1 with 3:48 left in the period that saw Gomez and Chris Drury racing into the Stars’ zone, but Drury’s wrist shot sailed over the net.
With the Stars buoyed by the momentum from the kill, they ended up making it 4-2 shortly afterwards on Ribeiro’s second of the night and 13th of the season. Ott made it happen with a crushing check on New York defenseman Marc Staal, who turned over the puck to Ribeiro in the right circle. Ribeiro then cruised in alone on Rangers netminder Stephen Valiquette and fired a scorching wrist shot just under his blocker with 1:45 left in the period.
“Otter goes so hard on those defensemen, most of the time, they’ll make a play that they don’t want to make, and on my goal there at the end of the second, that’s what happened,” Ribeiro explained. “Otter went to hit him, he made a mistake and we score. A lot of chances come off forecheck and those two guys (Ott and Lehtinen) are probably the best around right now. They’ve been helping my game and we’ve just been clicking.”
Turco made a big save to preserve the two-goal lead 2:56 into the third when he snagged Ryan Callahan’s fierce wrister from the left circle with his glove.
Dallas appeared to salt the game away when Lehtinen collected his sixth of the season at 4:15 of the final period, on another fine play by Ribeiro, but they were just getting started. As he was heading behind the goal, Ribeiro slid a slick pass from the left side of the net out front to Lehtinen, who quickly snapped a shot over Valiquette’s glove into the upper right corner of the net.
But the Stars were just getting started. Brunnstrom made it 6-2 at 10:46 when he received a slick backhand pass from Modano as they crossed the Ranger blue line, then unleashed a quick wrist shot from the right face-off circle that beat Valiquette over the glove again.
Just 39 seconds later, Ott collected his 10th of the season on a power play. Parked in the high slot, Ott took a nice pass from Lehtinen out of the left corner and ripped a wrister over Valiquette’s glove hand to give the Stars a five-goal edge.
Another 31 seconds after that, Sydor blasted a slap shot from the right point that zinged past a screened Valiquette low to the glove side for his second goal of the year and first in 38 games.
"I was just shooting at the net and it just went in,” Sydor shrugged. “I know what my role is.”
That capped off a three goals in 70-second barrage, but the Stars weren’t done.
A holding call to the Rangers’ Brandon Dubinsky turned into a double minor when he was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for arguing it and Dallas converted both ends of the power play.
First, Neal scored a pretty goal with 4:01 remaining in the third, roofing a point-blank wrister over Valiquette’s shoulder to make it 9-2.
Then, just as the raucous American Airlines Center crowd was chanting, “We want 10,” Brunnstrom carried the puck over the blue line and split the Ranger defense. He lost control of the puck in the slot, but Neal was also charging to the net, picked up the puck and fired an uncontested wrist shot past Valiquette on the stick side with 2:54 to go.
“It’s a good feeling,” Neal said of the third period explosion. “You never want to try to embarrass a team or anything like that, but things were opening up and stuff just happened so fast, putting pucks in the net. But it was a close game early there and it was a big goal by Ribeiro (late in the second) to get things rolling.”
After the Stars dominated the first several minutes of the opening period, the Rangers managed the notch the first goal on a goal Turco undoubtedly would like to have back. Zherdev chased down a loose puck behind the Dallas net and quick tried a wraparound at the left goalpost and the puck ricocheted off Turco’s far skate and in at 3:35.
Dallas responded with somewhat of a fluke goal of their own just 35 seconds later. Following a dump-in into the Rangers’ zone, Staal left the puck for Gomez at the left side of the crease. As Gomez tried to cut across the front of the Rangers crease, Sutherby swooped in and, in a single motion, stripped the puck off Gomez’ stick and jammed it past Valiquette and in.
The Stars enjoyed a 5-on-3 power play of their own for 1:08 late in the period and they capitalized when Ribeiro struck at 14:24, although it came one second after the first penalty expired. Lehtinen held the puck low in the left face-off circle before feeding Ott in front, and although Valiquette made the initial save, the puck fell loose behind him in the crease and Ribeiro quickly swatted it home.
Richards extended the Dallas lead to two with just 1:02 remaining in the first. With the Stars on the rush into the New York zone, Richards controlled the puck along the right sideboards before sliding a pass into the slot for a hard-charging Loui Eriksson. The puck never actually reached Eriksson, though, bouncing off Ranger defenseman Erik Reitz’ skate and beating Valiquette.
The Stars continue their stretch of 10 out of 13 February games at home with a matchup Sunday (5 pm start, FSN) against Nashville, another club in the gaggle of teams fighting for the last playoff spots, and they don’t expect to have it as easy as it seemed on this night.
“It’s only one game and the schedule won’t be easy,” Ribeiro cautioned. “It’s fun to do that and you enjoy it, but it’s not going to happen every game and we need to be aware of that.”
- The 10 goals overall and the six in one period for was the most for the Stars since moving to Dallas and tied for the second most in the history of the franchise. The Minnesota North Stars erupted for eight in one period in a 15-2 win over the old Winnipeg Jets back on Nov. 11, 1981.
- The four power play goals is the most by the club since netting four Nov. 24, 2006 against Los Angeles. In going 4-for-9 overall, the Stars are now a stellar 9-for-25 over their last five contests.
- With his two goals, Neal now has 18 on the season, topping all NHL rookies in that category. With 31 games left in the regular season, his 18 goals are already the most by a Dallas rookie since the club relocated from Minnesota in 1993, surpassing Jussi Jokinen’s 17 from 2005-06.
- Both Ott and Lehtinen extended their scoring streaks to seven games, which are career-highs for both players. Ott now has 11 points (five goals, six assists) in those contests while Lehtinen has nine (four goals, five assists). Ott also led the club with nine hits.
- Ribeiro’s big night leaves him with 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in the last seven games.
- Modano’s two assists give him six in the last five contests.
- Brunnstrom returned to the lineup for the first time since Dec. 27 after missing 16 games with a high ankle sprain and the flu, a stretch which also included a quick conditioning stint in the minors. Skating on a line with Modano and Neal, he now has five points in his last three games played in (two goals, three assists).
- To make room for Brunnstrom, winger Chris Conner sat out as a healthy scratch.
- With backup goaltender Tobias Stephan assigned to Bridgeport of the AHL earlier in the day, goalie Brent Krahn was recalled from Chicago of the AHL and served as Turco’s backup.
- U.S. Olympic gold medalist gymnast Nastia Liukin, who is from Plano, dropped the ceremonial first puck before the game.
- This would have been the fourth career meeting between Joel Lundqvist and his identical twin brother, Henrik, who is the Rangers’ number one goaltender, but Henrik, who had started eight of the Rangers’ past nine games, was feeling a touch of the flu and watched from the end of the bench as his backup got shelled. The twins have faced each other three times before, the last time being the Stars’ 2-1 win in New York on Oct. 20. They are just the third time a set of twins to play against each other in NHL history and the first since March, 1994, when Rich and Ron Sutter last played on separate clubs.
1 - 0 NYR
Backhand shot -
1 - 1 Tie
Wrist shot -
2 - 1 DAL
Wrist shot -
3 - 1 DAL
Wrist shot -
3 - 2 DAL
Wrist shot -
4 - 2 DAL
Wrist shot -
5 - 2 DAL
Wrist shot -
6 - 2 DAL
Wrist shot -