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Stars offence has season-best burst in 7-5 victory over Avalanche

Jeff Halpern had a goal and two assists in a 7-5 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday, when the Stars set a season high for goals and were involved in a 12-goal game for the first time in more than nine years.

The Stars' scoring surge came a day after their 1-0 victory over division-leading Anaheim when Mike Smith started instead of Turco, who Sunday was pulled from his second straight start after allowing two goals in less than a minute midway through the second period.

"I'm disappointed that I let the guys down. They weren't great goals," Turco said. "I haven't been my best the last couple weeks and it's making Tip (coach Dave Tippett) a little nervous."

In his previous start Tuesday against Minnesota, Turco gave two goals on seven shots in the first eight minutes. Dallas rebounded to win 4-2 after Smith took over.

The Stars have still won three straight games and five of their last six. With 70 points, they are four points behind Anaheim and only one behind second-place San Jose, which plays in Dallas next Sunday.

Smith came in against the Avs after Paul Stastny and rookie Wojtek Wolski scored 49 seconds apart midway through the second period to get Colorado within 4-3.

Turco allowed three goals on 15 shots, the other in the closing minute of the first period when he let a puck through and behind him, and Joe Sakic knocked it into the net.

"We were trying to stop the bleeding. Smitty had a great day yesterday and we were looking to stop their momentum," Tippett said. "Marty's hit a little bump in the road here, but he's been very good for us. Our team still feels confidence in both guys."

Within a minute after Wolski's goal chased Turco, Halpern knocked the puck to the front of the net and Joel Lundqvist deflected it over the shoulder of Jose Theodore - who had replaced Peter Budaj in goal for Colorado earlier in the period.

Dallas led 6-3 when Philippe Boucher scored with 6:17 left in the second period.

"I was certainly surprised. I don't think I've ever been yanked with the lead before," Turco said. "But there's been bad goals over this stretch, so I can't entirely blame (Tippett). He wants to win more than anything. My confidence will be restored."

Smith stopped 12 of 14 shots, with a sprawling save at the end of an odd-man rush at the end of the second period. Both goals he allowed, one of them a power play, came in the first five minutes of the third period.

After that, Smith survived three more power plays with stops on point-blank shots by Wolski and Sakic. Then he had another sprawling effort to deny Ian Laperriere with 3:13 left - and Halpern then scored a goal for the Stars.

Budaj gave up four goals on 15 shots and Theodore allowed three goals in 10 shots.

Colorado lost for the fourth time in five games. The Avalanche started a stretch of 11 road games in their next 15.

"We've been slow-starting and then playing catch-up," coach Joel Quenneville said. "We're having hesitation. We talked about getting momentum early, then give up the early goal and it gets you thinking again. We had a little hesitation at the start and you can't have that."

Jere Lehtinen's backhander of a rebound gave Dallas a 3-0 lead with 1:51 left in the first period. But a minute later, Turco allowed Sakic's 24th goal of the season.

Twelve different players scored goals, with Trevor Daley and Stu Barnes putting Dallas up 2-0. Barnes scored after Lundqvist took a swipe from beyond the right circle as a power play ended, the puck squirting under Budaj and off the goalie's skate to Barnes.

Notes: Dallas swept the four-game regular-season series against Colorado. ... The Stars' last 12-goal game was an 8-4 victory over Buffalo in December 1997. ... The high-scoring game came on a good day for the Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids Foundation. Members of the Stars and Avalanche both pledged to donate a predetermined amount for goals, assists, shots blocked or a victory. "This is the first time all 23 players, the coaches and the general managers (from both teams) have pledged on the same day," said Brooks, whose foundation was going to triple what the players contributed.



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