By John Tranchina
PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
DALLAS (Ticker) — The Dallas Stars are making their move.
Steve Ott collected a goal and an assist and Marty Turco made 25
saves to lead the Stars to a 2-0 victory over the Atlanta
Thrashers on Tuesday.
In each team’s first game following the All-Star break, Dallas
picked up where it left off in a 4-1 win over Florida last
Wednesday, dominating their second straight Eastern Conference
The Stars, who struggled to the worst record in the West for
much of the first two months of the season, are now 8-1-1 in
their last 10 home games and 4-1-2 in their last seven overall.
They have inched within two points of the eighth and final
playoff spot in the conference with their recent surge.
Jere Lehtinen also scored and center Mike Ribeiro chipped in
with two assists for Dallas.
“Points become so very valuable, and this was a home game that
we had to win,” Stars coach Dave Tippett said. “You put those
two points in the bank and move on from there. Ribeiro is
skating very well. Ott and (Lehtinen) are workaholics. But
(Ribeiro) is playing a very solid game right now and getting
“Anytime you play with someone like (Ribeiro) and a three-time
Selke winner (in Lehtinen), good things are going to happen,”
Ott said of his skilled linemates. “Hard work has gotten us a
lot of scoring chances, and we’re capitalizing on them. We’ve
got to be hard to play against and push that record and push for
a playoff spot.”
Turco had to make outstanding stops on Eric Perrin and Bryan
Little in the final 10 seconds to preserve his second shutout of
the season and 35th career. In making six saves in each of the
first two periods and 13 in the third, he improved to 6-0-0
lifetime against Atlanta, the only NHL club against which he
never has lost.
“You’re always striving for shutouts,” said Turco, whose first
blanking this season came in a 1-0 shootout loss at Phoenix on
January 10. “The guys played awesome tonight. It was the first
time I got a shutout this year and got the win. If we can play
like this, good things will happen.
“I don’t know if we have the Eastern’s number, but they seemed a
little flat tonight, and we took advantage of it. We’re tough
to play against when we play like that, no matter what
conference you’re in.”
The Thrashers have lost two straight following a three-game
“You can’t just have one guy going,” Atlanta coach John Anderson
said. “We’re not so blessed with talent that we can have five
or six guys take nights off.”
Despite the loss, Kari Lehtonen was strong in goal, making 31
saves – including several spectacular stops to keep his team in
the game. He denied Ott on a breakaway chance with 4:07 left in
the third period.
“I don’t think we were awake the first two periods,” Lehtonen
“I thought their goaltender made some unbelievable saves to keep
them in the game,” Tippett said. “But Marty was big when we
Dallas jumped to an early lead as Lehtinen scored his third goal
of the season just 3:48 into the contest. Lehtonen made an easy
save on Ribeiro’s weak shot from low in the left faceoff circle,
but the puck ricocheted up off Lehtonen’s stick and appeared to
bounce off Lehtinen’s chest as he cruised by the crease.
“He’s a strong man with a big chest,” Lehtonen said of his
fellow Finn. “It was just lucky, I guess.”
After a video review, it was confirmed that the puck did not go
in off one of Lehtinen’s hands, giving the Stars a 1-0 edge.
“I threw the puck toward the net and Jere made a great play on
it,” Ribeiro said. “We had a lot of chances, we put a lot of
pressure on them and we created some good momentum for
Dallas doubled the lead just 28 seconds into the middle period
on Ott’s sixth goal. With a delayed penalty about to be called
on Atlanta, the Stars executed a nice tic-tac-toe passing play
that concluded with Ribeiro feeding Ott for an easy tap-in.