DALLAS - Marty Turco seems to love the one-on-one battles waged against the Vancouver Canucks, no matter who's in the crease opposite him.
Turco made 33 saves, and out-dueled Canucks backup Jason LaBarbera just enough to provide the Stars with a 2-1 victory over Vancouver on Friday night at American Airlines Center.
The win moves the Stars into a fifth-place tie with Anaheim in the Western Conference, one point ahead of the Canucks and two points in front of eighth-place Minnesota.
Normally going head-to-head and save-for-save with Canucks starting netminder Roberto Luongo, Turco instead faced LaBarbera, who snapped Luongo's nine-consecutive start streak. But it didn't matter who was between the pipes for Vancouver, as Turco spit pucks out left and right, rebounding from a rough start in which he allowed Taylor Pyatt's soft wrist shot to squirt through him just five minutes into the contest.
"The league can see from his one that low scoring games can be exciting, too," Turco said. "You have to take some solace in playing well but losing, and we were the fortunate team tonight."
Making his 25th consecutive start, Turco's certainly not wilting. In fact, he's blossoming, having surrendered two goals or less in eight of his last 10 starts while giving up just a goal in each of his last three affairs.
Over his last 12 games, Turco has a sparkling 1.67 goals-against average, a far cry from when he was allowing well over three goals per contest earlier in the year.
"The fundamentals of my game weren't where they needed to be early, and that is certainly something I have worked on a lot the last couple months," he said.
His teammates have witnessed the transformation firsthand.
"Marty's been unbelievable," said Loui Eriksson, who had a goal and assist. "Today he was great again."
Turco didn't discriminate Friday, repeatedly denying anyone wearing a blue Canucks sweater. But he was particularly tough on forwards Daniel Sedin and Kyle Wellwood. Sedin took seven shots that were turned aside, while Wellwood had two golden opportunities in the third period to pull the Canucks into a possible 2-2 tie, but his chances were efficiently erased by Turco. Wellwood finished with six shots overall.
With LaBarbera pulled for the extra attacker, Turco ultimately denied Wellwood once again from the slot during a frantic scramble with 20 seconds to go.
"Entertaining game," coach Dave Tippett said. "They were pushing hard in the third, and it was exciting right to the end. We'll continue to talk to Marty and make sure he's feeling good. When he is, he gives us our best chance to win. He settled in and played really well."
LaBarbera was sharp as well, finishing with 28 saves while also getting some help from the goal posts. Jere Lehtinen hit two posts on the night, while James Neal's attempt to seal the deal went off defenseman Alexander Edler's skate in the crease with just under two minutes left in regulation.
"There is a belief and an accountability in our system and we are playing well together as a team," gritty winger Steve Ott said. "Marty is getting better every single night, and when he gets mad at himself like he did after the first goal, he is unreal and wants to redeem himself."
Joel Lundqvist also scored for the Stars, who snapped the Canucks four-game winning streak while notching their own eighth win in the last 10 games.
Down by a goal after one period of play, Eriksson got the equalizer when he netted his team-leading 26th goal of the year eight minutes into the second period. Off the faceoff with the Stars on the power play, Mike Modano drew the puck back to Matt Niskanen, who wristed a shot from the point towards the net. Eriksson then deftly deflected the puck past LaBarbera to make it 1-1.
"It's been great, the whole season has been a lot of fun," Eriksson said. "I've been getting a lot of ice time and it's been fun winning games."
Lundqvist gave Dallas its first lead of the game with his first of the season with 3:33 left in the second. Off the rush after Turco's long outlet pass, Lundqvist sent a wicked wrist shot past LaBarbera from the inner edge of the right circle to give the Stars a 2-1 lead.
"I'm a forward. I should score goals," said Lundqvist, who tallied for the first time since March 15 against Vancouver. "I haven't been able to find the net, so it's nice to finally get it. I don't even remember the feeling, but I do now. It was nice to get the first one because that's what hockey's all about."
Eriksson credited Turco with creating the goal.
"He got a great pass up to me," Eriksson said. "That's his type of play and he's great at it."
The goal came 30 seconds after Modano's glorious chance from in front went off the post, and nearly two minutes after Lehtinen was robbed on the power play by a scintillating glove save by LaBarbera after Lehtinen ripped a wrist shot that was labeled for the top-right corner.
The Canucks opened the scoring when Pyatt scored his seventh of the season 5 1/2 minutes into the game. The Vancouver winger made a nifty play at the Stars blue line to get around defenseman Nicklas Grossman, then skated to the right faceoff dot before snapping a shot off that handcuffed Turco.
Dallas will now face the Blackhawks Saturday night at Chicago (7:30, FSN). The game will be the middle contest of a three-games in four-nights stretch that concludes Monday in Columbus for the Stars.
"Of course you're looking at the standings," Eriksson said. "It's a tight group there fighting for the playoffs, and tonight was a huge two points. We've got to get going and be ready for Chicago tomorrow. We need all the points we can get right now."
--Turco picked up his fourth assist of the season, and 17th of his career on Lundqvist's goal. The four helpers are the most by any goalie in the league.
--Eriksson's goal snapped the Stars scoreless streak at 89 minutes, 34 seconds.
--Lundqvist's goal was his first in 30 appearances.
--Turco moved to 17-4-1 lifetime against the Canucks.
-- The Stars are 12-2-1 in their last 15 games at American Airlines Center.
--The Stars are 16-5-2 in the past 23 meetings with Vancouver.
--Dallas owns a 5-1 mark in games played on Friday the 13th since moving to Texas in 1993.
--Niskanen has nine assists in his last seven games.
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