ANAHEIM, CA - It was clear early on just how much the Dallas Stars had missed Steve Ott.
Returning to the lineup after a four-game absence due to a strained oblique muscle, Ott was the sparkplug for a spirited Dallas effort, as he delivered hits to set a physical tone and helped create offensive opportunities as well.
In the end, Ott contributed an empty net goal and an assist to help the Stars defeat Pacific Division rival Anaheim 4-2 Wednesday night at the Honda Center.
The win gives Dallas a 4-2-3 record on the young season and pushes their superior road mark to 3-0-2, while dropping the Ducks to 3-4-1.
In goal, Marty Turco was solid, making 24 saves, including 13 in the third period alone.
While the Stars put forth a much more consistent effort than they did in Monday night’s 4-1 loss to Los Angeles, they did falter a bit in the third period and let the Ducks back into a game that should have been over.
After roaring out to a commanding 3-0 lead, the Stars let Anaheim back into it as the Ducks battled back to make it 3-2 early in the third period. But the Stars were able to hold off the surge and iced it on Ott’s empty netter in the dying seconds.
“The first two periods, I thought we really attacked well,” Stars coach Marc Crawford said. “I thought our pressure was just terrific, we created a lot of loose pucks, we were strong with the puck. We stopped attacking a bit in the third period, so it shows we still have a little ways to go but give (Anaheim) credit, they came back extremely hard. Marty made a couple of real good saves and we got some real spirited play from a lot of players tonight.”
“It certainly was a great start by our club,” said Turco, who earned his second victory of the season. “The last little bit, especially at home, we had solid efforts but had the play taken to us, so it was a great sight to see for the most part, us really stopping them and doing the right things to keep the game in our favor. We did what we could to hold on.”
Dallas had the game’s first scoring chance, as Mike Ribeiro stripped the puck from Anaheim defenseman James Wisniewski inside the Ducks’ zone and sped in on a breakaway. Ribeiro tried to lift it high to the glove side, but Anaheim goaltender Jonas Hiller made a nice save 3:30 into the opening period.
The Stars were unable to capitalize on two first period power plays, even though they controlled the puck in the Anaheim zone most of that time. They got the better opportunities on the second one, when Hiller made a sparkling pad save on Ribeiro’s point-blank one-timer off a pass from rookie Jamie Benn from behind the net.
Later in that second advantage, Hiller made another big glove stop on Neal’s scorching wrist shot from the top of the left face-off circle with 8:12 remaining in the period.
The contest’s first fight took place just after the power play expired, as Krys Barch tangled with Anaheim’s George Parros in an entertaining bout that ended up with Parros bleeding over the right eye.
Soon afterwards, Dallas went ahead 1-0 on Eriksson’s fourth goal of the season. Rookie Tom Wandell, filling in as the Stars’ second line center with Brad Richards out of the lineup, started the play with a wrist shot from the left circle. Hiller made the save but left a rebound in front, which Neal scooped up and backhanded from the slot. Hiller made the second stop, but Eriksson stuffed home the ensuing rebound at 14:01.
Eriksson raced in on the club’s second breakaway of the night with 20 seconds left in the period, but Hiller made a pad save on his backhand deke attempt. That left the Stars up by just a goal even though they outshot the Ducks 16-5 over the first period.
Another fight came early in the second period as left winger Francis Wathier, making his NHL debut, won his first face-off and then immediately dropped the gloves with Anaheim’s Mike Brown for his first fight.
“It’s part of my game and I want to make sure the organization knows that I’m able to do it,” Wathier said of his scrap. “Once you’re here, you want to do everything to stay, so that’s a part of my game I got to establish early on. I fought Brown in the past in the AHL, so why not do it again in the NHL?”
The Stars took a 2-0 lead at 4:17 on Morrow’s team-leading sixth goal of the season. Following Benn’s routine dump-in into the Ducks’ zone, Hiller lost the puck behind the net and Ribeiro swooped in to steal it. Ribeiro then slid a no-look backhand pass out front, where Morrow drilled it into the open net before Hiller could scramble back.
“(Morrow) has been very good.,” Crawford said. “That whole line, Ribeiro is such a good playmaker, he’s got such good patience and poise with the puck and Jamie Benn I thought played one of his better games tonight as well. Tonight he was really strong with the puck through the neutral zone and it ended up being a big factor for us in the game.”
Dallas made it a three-goal lead by scoring their first goal on the power play in four games when Daley notched his first of the season at 8:53. Daley snuck down into the slot, and after receiving a slick cross-ice pass from Neal, blasted a one-timer over Hiller’s glove off the inside of the far post and in.
The Stars nearly went up by four just 10 seconds later after Hiller again lost the puck behind the net, this time to Jamie Benn, who hacked the puck out front into the crease but Morrow couldn’t get it past the skates of Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf.
Anaheim got one back with 2:08 left in the second on Getzlaf’s first goal of the season. With the Stars unable to execute a line change, Getzlaf carried the puck into the Dallas zone and made a pretty move to slip around Karlis Skrastins and cut towards the net, where he roofed a point-blank shot over Turco’s shoulder.
“I really loved their first two periods,” Crawford said of his troops. “If we can bottle those types of efforts, we’ll win a lot of hockey games.”
Up 3-1 heading into the final period and owning a 27-12 edge in shots on goal, the Stars were able to weather the storm the Ducks threw at them over the first five-plus minutes, with Turco making saves on Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne, among others during that stretch.
Anaheim pulled to within one on another failed line change by the Dallas defense. Joffrey Lupul’s second goal of the year at 8:35 came off an unfortunate bounce and followed a rare Turco giveaway behind his net. Perry took the puck in the right corner and fed a pass out front to Lupul, whose one-timer deflected off the skate of the tired Skrastins and trickled through Turco’s pads to make it 3-2.
Less than two minutes later, Eriksson had another opportunity as he carried into the Anaheim zone on a 2-on-1 rush and opted to rip a wrist shot high, but Hiller made a nice arm save.
Turco then made some important saves himself, denying Wisniewski’s bouncing shot from the left point with 4:28 to go and then thwarting Selanne’s re-direction in front with 3:05 left.
The Ducks pulled Hiller for an extra attacker with 1:03 remaining in regulation and buzzed the Dallas zone. Turco was forced to make one more save, stopping Getzlaf’s deflection in front with 24 seconds to go before Otter finished things off with an empty net goal with nine seconds on the clock.
The Stars continue their three-game road trip Thursday night across town when they visit the Los Angeles Kings (9:00 pm, FSSW), as the Stars seek revenge for their 4-1 loss Monday on home ice.
- Morrow’s goal gives him a modest little three-game point streak, during which he’s collected two goals and one assist. Morrow now has 179 career goals, moving him past current Dallas GM Joe Nieuwendyk into sole possession of 10th place on the franchise’s all-time list. Morrow also became just the seventh player to play 600 games in a Stars jersey since the move to Dallas in 1993, and the 17th overall in franchise history, dating back to the Minnesota North Stars’ first year in 1967-68.
- Daley, who led the squad in ice time with 26:18, snapped a six-game pointless drought with his goal.
- Neal, who started the season scorching hot, had gone three contests without a point before registering two assists in this one.
- Eriksson, who had gone three games without a point, and Ott each registered six shots on goal to lead the club. Ott also delivered two hits.
- After getting leveled by a borderline-dirty hit from Anaheim’s Evgeny Artyukhin 4:30 into the second period, defenseman Matt Niskanen did not return. His head hit the ice after Artyukhin kicked his legs out from under him and was deemed to have a head injury. He will be re-evaluated on Thursday.
- Wearing jersey number 58, Wathier, who was recalled from AHL Texas Tuesday, became the fourth Star to play his first NHL game this season. In just 5:59 of ice time, he fired three shots on goal, not to mention collected five penalty minutes for his first NHL fight.
- Center Brad Richards missed his second straight contest with a groin injury, while veterans Mike Modano (eighth in a row) and Jere Lehtinen (four) also remained on the sidelines with injuries.
- After going 0-for-12 over previous three games on the power play, Dallas was 1-for-3 with the man-advantage. And while their penalty kill struggled early in the season (they still ranked 26th in the league coming into the night), the Stars have now killed 9-of-10 opposition power plays over the last three contests.
- The Stars went 2-0-1 in Anaheim last season and are now 9-3-4 in the regular season at the Honda Center over the last five seasons. Overall, Dallas holds a 12-3-4 mark against the Ducks in regular season action since 2006-07.
1 - 0 DAL
2 - 0 DAL
3 - 0 DAL
3 - 1 DAL
3 - 2 DAL
4 - 2 DAL
Interference on goalkeeper