One night after a late meltdown let a point slip away in Los Angeles, the Dallas Stars responded with another solid effort.
Loui Eriksson scored two goals and Marty Turco was outstanding in goal, making 36 saves, to lead the Stars to a crucial 3-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks Friday night at the Honda Center.
After losing five in a row on home ice, the Stars finished their three-game California road trip with five out of six points (2-0-1) and vaulted back into the Western Conference playoff picture.
Starting the day in a three-way tie with the Ducks and Edmonton for eighth but officially listed as 10th, the Stars now have 70 points to tie Nashville and Columbus for sixth in the tight standings.
The Stars were outshot 38-16 (29-10 over the last two periods), but made the most of their chances as Turco shut the door at the other end. Things got a little nerve-wracking in the third period as the Ducks twice cut into two-goal leads, but this time the Stars wouldn’t allow themselves to squander another important game.
“After a very disappointing night last night, we knew we would have a hard hockey game,” Stars coach Dave Tippett said. “We battled well in front of the net, our power play capitalized early and going through some hard battles is big.”
For Eriksson, his team-leading 30th and 31st goals of the season allowed him to become the ninth Dallas Star to hit that plateau. Of course, the shy Eriksson deflected any praise due his way.
“It was real important to get points tonight and it was a big win for us,” said Eriksson, who has four goals in his last four games now. “Marty has been great all year and we need him to play like this. Last night was a tough loss so it was a huge win tonight.”
“Last night was extremely disappointing, we had a big lead go to waste,” Ott said. “That’s why tonight was so big and we take home five of six points on the trip. We had a solid game throughout the lineup. We have had a lot of adversity this year and we just need everyone to make the most of their opportunities. Every night is like a playoff game and we are just doing all we can to get there.”
Turco, one night after an outstanding performance was spoiled by a bad penalty and the late collapse, rebounded with another excellent effort. He was spectacular throughout, particularly in the second period, when he made 19 saves and praised his team’s ability to stay focused and be able to pull out the triumph in the third period.
“To this group’s credit, we rallied a little bit around it and that’s the mentality we need to collect points and stay in the playoff picture and we did that,” Turco said. “It was a great effort tonight from everybody, something that we needed and those guys poured it on and we survived and that was a good sign to see.”
For the second night in a row, the Stars took a two-goal lead into the final period, and watched it get cut in half again.
This time, ahead 2-0, Dallas seemed to be in good position when Corey Perry was whistled for tripping at 5:23, but the Stars did nothing with the resulting power play, not even registering a shot. But as Perry exited the box, Teemu Selanne led the rush into the Stars zone, fed a cross-ice pass to Perry in the left circle. Perry tapped it back to recently-acquired defenseman James Wisniewski, who rifled a wrist shot over Turco’s shoulder at 7:31.
The Stars got that one back, though, just 1:17 later, when Eriksson netted goal number 31 - and his 100th career point. After a face-off in the neutral zone, Eriksson won a battle for the loose puck and raced into the Anaheim zone on the rush, unleashing a scorching wrister from the left circle that beat Ducks netminder Jean-Sebastien Giguere over the glove to make it 3-1.
“Loui made a great play at a tight time,” Tippett said of what turned out to be the game-winner. “He had a great night and he was a big boost tonight. You win a puck, that’s what it’s all about. It’s funny how in games like this, little plays like that dictate outcomes. Both teams play hard and there’s lots of strategy and struggle and systems, but it comes to a simple play where a player makes a great play and finds a way to get a key goal.”
Anaheim super rookie Bobby Ryan made Stars fans everywhere nervous when he cut the lead to one again with just 2:32 to play on a incredible individual effort. Ryan carried the puck in from center ice, dipsy-doodled his way around Stephane Robidas in the left circle before cutting across the crease and stuffing a low shot past Turco for his 23rd goal of the year.
Faced with another possible collapse, though, the Stars refused to buckle this time. With Giguere on the bench for an extra attacker for the final 50 seconds, Dallas just would not let the Ducks set up in their zone and apply any offensive pressure before the final buzzer.
“We played well defensively and had a good team effort,” Ribeiro said. “Taking the lead early was big and Marty made some great saves all night. It’s a big two points tonight.”
The Stars got off to a very quick start, going on the power play just 29 seconds into the opening period and converting on it at 1:45. With the Stars set up in the Anaheim zone, Ribeiro fed a pass from the top of the left face-off circle to Ott at the left post. Ott then cut across the top of the crease, and as Giguere pulled off the post to follow him, Ott slid it back to Ribeiro in the circle, and Ribs drilled it into the open side of the net for his 17th goal of the year.
“(Ott) made a great play,” Tippett said. “Wow, that’s a great play by him.”
Anaheim nearly tied it just 22 seconds later when Chris Pronger’s slap shot from the right point was deflected by Mike Brown in the slot past Turco’s outstretched pad but clanked off the left goalpost.
Turco kept the Stars on top with a nice point-blank save on Ryan Getzlaf with 4:50 left and on Perry’s wrap-around attempt with 1:51 to go in the period.
Up 1-0 entering the second, Dallas got another big save from Turco 2:10 in when he denied Perry in close.
Krys Barch then squared off with Anaheim’s Sheldon Brookbank in a long, drawn-out fight at the 3:17 mark, with each combatant getting a few good punches in.
With the Ducks on a power play less than two minutes later, Turco made a sparkling pad save on Selanne’s deflection of in front of Getzlaf’s shot from the left point.
About 40 seconds after that, Dallas had a scoring chance of their own while still shorthanded, but Giguere made the save on Eriksson’s point-blank shot.
The Stars’ penalty killing shone once again, nullifying consecutive Ducks power plays. Overall on the night, they killed 3-of-3.
Dallas almost extended the lead to two with 8:33 left in the second, as Brian Sutherby sped in on a breakaway, but his shot from the slot pinged high off the far post and into the corner.
Anaheim continued to fire away at the Dallas net, but Turco stood tall, and with the Ducks outshooting the Stars 17-3 through the first 14-plus minutes of the period, managed to go up 2-0 anyway. With 5:21 left in, a pretty passing play led to Ott sliding a nice cross-ice pass from the right circle to a charging Eriksson in the slot, and Loui one-timed it past Giguere for his team-leading 30th goal of the year. The assist for Ott represented his 100th career point.
“Otter is playing great and with a lot of confidence,” Ribeiro said.
Having completed their three-game California road trip, the Stars return to the American Airlines Center for a date Sunday evening (5 pm start time, FSN) against the Montreal Canadiens, hoping things go better than they did the last time they were home. With former Star Guy Carbonneau as their head coach and former Dallas General Manager Bob Gainey as their GM, the Canadiens are currently in the midst of a playoff battle of their own in the Eastern Conference, ranking fifth, but just four points ahead of ninth-place Buffalo.
- Ribeiro’s second straight multi-point game now gives him nine points (four goals, five assists) in his last six outings.
- Eriksson now has a four-game point streak going, having registered six points (four goals, two assists) over that span. Eriksson’s 31st goal was also his 100th career point and his fourth game-winner of the season. He is now the 26th player in franchise history to hit 30 (ninth since the club moved to Dallas in 1993).
- With his two assists, Ott now has nine points (two goals, seven assists) in the last eight games.
- Darryl Sydor earned his 400th career assist on Ribeiro’s early goal.
- Winger Landon Wilson returned to the lineup after missing 27 games with an upper body injury. In 6:59 of ice time, he registered two hits.
- To make room for Wilson, winger Mark Parrish sat out as a healthy scratch, one game shy of his 700th career NHL regular season contest.
- Winger Jere Lehtinen also sat out his second straight game with an upper body injury. He is listed as day-to-day.
- With the win, the Stars are now 4-8-0 this season in the second leg of back-to-back sets.
- With their one goal in the second period, Dallas has now outscored the Ducks 7-0 in the second periods of their five meetings this season, going 3-1-1 in those outings. Overall, the Stars are now 11-3-3 in their last 17 regular season contests against Anaheim.
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