DETROIT – Marty Turco, winless in Joe Louis Arena in his NHL career and with Dallas facing elimination in the Western Conference final, kept the Stars alive Saturday.
“There wasn’t any better time than now,” Turco said after his team’s 2-1 triumph and his first goaltending win in Detroit in his 12th try in seven years in the league. “It has been a long time but it’s something I never thought wouldn’t happen in my career.
“That’s probably the best I’ve felt in this building – ever. Your next game is always supposed to be your best and, for whatever reason, it just felt I was in total control. It usually works out like that when you have that feeling.”
Trevor Daley of the Stars and Jiri Hudler of the Red Wings scored in the first period and Joel Lundqvist, who got a long pass from Turco, put the winning shot behind Detroit goalie Chris Osgood at 6:04 of the second period.
Detroit outshot Dallas 39-21.
“There weren’t as many quality close chances as there has been,” said Turco. “That’s a credit to our guys.”
Now, with Dallas having won two in a row to shave Detroit’s series lead to 3-2, the teams return to Texas for Game 6 on Monday night.
“We’re excited to go back home and to continue to push this thing along,” Turco said.
The 32-year-old native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., played volleyball with teammates in an arena corridor before strapping on his pads.
“I saw it before the game even started – the focus he had,” said captain Brenden Morrow. “Once the game started, he was real comfortable back there playing pucks, reading plays, making passes . . .
“He’s giving us a chance to win every night. Unfortunately, it’s a team sport and we haven’t been there for him sometimes and he’s going to get the brunt of the blame. We’re all in it together and (Saturday) we pulled through.”
The Stars, in losing the opening three games, looked spent after their energy-sapping, four-overtime series against San Jose, but they’ve come alive.
The Red Wings are the ones looking droopy now. Maybe they’re missing injured right-winger Johan Franzen more than they’re letting on. Pavel Datsyuk showed little of the spark he had in the first three games and Henrik Zetterberg was merely ordinary Saturday. It’ll take more than ordinary efforts to sideline the determined Stars.
“They’re hanging in there, they’re playing well,” Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom said of the Stars. “They’re playing desperate hockey.”
The Dallas defence corps, with Sergei Zubov playing a team-high 27 minutes, kept Wings shooters to the outside for the most part when they mounted a late rally attempt.
“They seem to be playing much better defensively,” said Lidstrom. “They’ve tightened things up.
“I think we can do a better job in the neutral zone. We’re backing up and giving them too much room.”
Stars coach Dave Tippett couldn’t say enough about Turco’s effort.
“There’s been a lot documented about his struggles up here,” said Tippett. “I don’t look at it as his struggles as much as our team’s struggles.
“But for us to be successful he has to be very good and that’s what you saw from him (today). There was so much battle in him. One of our team’s themes this year has been finding a will to win and I think Marty exemplified that. He wasn’t going to be denied in this game and he made enough saves for us to get the win.”
While Turco dodged much of the praise heaped on him, his teammates knew he deserved the first star selection he received.
“Every time he’s been backed up against the wall, he’s responded,” said Ott. “He’s done that all season.”
Notes: Detroit was 1-3 and Dallas 0-4 on power plays . . . Zetterberg’s point streak ended at nine games . . . Franzen (concussion) was out of the Red Wings’ lineup a fourth straight game, while RW Jere Lehtinen (leg, May 10), C Stu Barnes (concussion, April 29) and D Philippe Boucher (hip, April 15) remained unavailable to the Stars . . . The loss was Detroit’s first in eight home post-season games this spring, and its first including regular season since a 4-3 overtime loss to St. Louis on March 28.