Boucher’s hat trick led the Stars to a 5-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Friday night.
On Saturday morning Boucher was scheduled to leave the team and visit his father, Jean-Claude, who is in a Quebec hospital battling pancreatic cancer. Boucher’s mother, Jacqueline, recently had bypass surgery.
“Playing 60 minutes of hockey is an escape for me,” Boucher said. “I’m going to go back and give (one of the pucks) to (my father).”
Before the game, Stars coach Dave Tippett told Boucher that he had permission from the club to skip Friday’s game and fly to Quebec early.
“With everything going on in his life right now, I asked him if he even wanted to play tonight, but he told me he wanted to play and I’m glad he did,” Tippett said.
Boucher has had hat tricks in junior, the minors and in the pre-season, but Friday was the first in the regular season in his 14-year NHL career.
“There was traffic on all three goals,” said Boucher, who scored each from the point. “It was just crank and shoot. Our guys did a great job screening the goalie.”
Dallas surged to a 3-0 first-period lead on two man-advantage goals from Boucher and one from defenceman Sergei Zubov. Eric Lindros assisted on all three.
The Stars, 5-2 in their last seven games, went 3-for-5 on the power play in the first period.
Seven of the goals came on the power play, two by Dustin Brown of the Kings, 2-4-1 in their last seven games.
Dallas’ four power-play goals were the most for the Stars since scoring four against Los Angeles on Nov. 15, 1997.
“Power plays were the difference in the game,” Kings coach Marc Crawford said. “I was not surprised with (Dallas’) power play. Their offence comes from their point men and tonight Boucher found holes on three of his shots.”
Jere Lehtinen added an empty-net goal for Dallas with 25 seconds left to make it 5-3.
Alexander Frolov of the Kings crashed the net and capitalized on a two-man advantage with his 13th goal of the season at 8:17 of the final period to narrow the deficit to 4-3.
But the Kings couldn’t get the tying goal past rookie goalie Mike Smith, who stopped 22 shots. Smith was playing in his third straight game and making his second consecutive start in place of Marty Turco. Tippett said Turco isn’t in danger of losing his spot as the team’s top goaltender, but Tippett wanted to see how Smith responded to consecutive starts.
“It’s been a pretty exciting week for me, getting a couple of wins in a row,” Smith said. “It’s a big confidence builder.”
Smith relieved Turco in the first period of Monday night’s 5-4 victory over Colorado, then Smith got his second career shutout in a 1-0 win over Nashville on Wednesday night.
Dallas has won all four of its games against Los Angeles this season.
Boucher’s first goal glanced in off the stick of a Kings’ defender at 4:30 of the opening period to get the scoring under way.
Zubov made it 2-0 at 12:53 of the opening period with a one-timer from 40 feet while the Stars held a two-man advantage, and 26 seconds later Boucher beat Kings goalie Mathieu Garon from beyond the right circle to stretch the lead to 3-0.
But Brown scored his man-advantage goals over a span of 2:21 in the second period to pull Los Angeles within 3-2.
Brown’s first goal at 5:48 snapped Smith’s shutout streak at 105 minutes, seven seconds.
Boucher’s third goal of the night and sixth of the season came on a blast from just inside the blue line at 11:00 of the second period to push Dallas’ advantage to 4-2. Fans littered the ice with hats to mark the Stars’ first hat trick of the season.
Notes: Smith improved his record to 5-1. . . . Mike Modano’s assist on Boucher’s second goal was his 1,200th NHL point. Modano is the 42nd player in NHL history to reach the milestone. . . . Lehtinen was back in the lineup after missing four straight games with a leg injury. . . . Stars captain Brenden Morrow also returned after sitting out one game with a groin injury, but reinjured the groin in the first period and did not return. Tippett said Morrow was held out as a precaution and that he should not be sidelined long-term.