It was a must win for Dave Tippet’s Dallas Stars and the guy that needed it most was the fellow in the nets Marty Turco. Having seen his team collapse around him in previous games Turco put on a performance Friday night that announced the Stars would not go quietly in the NHL night.
With the Stars playing a more offensive oriented game, complete with many scoring chances they controlled a good portion of the play and held the Colorado Avalanche to only one goal, as they clawed their way back onto the ledge of their best of seven series with the Avs with a 4-1 victory in Denver.
Turco made the difference tonight as he turned aside 22 of the 23 Avalanche shots, at the other end of the rink Jose Theodore was under siege as Dallas came at him in wave after wave of attack, firing 39 shots on the Avalanche goaltender, with four of them finding the mark and sending Dallas on to victory.
The Stars played desperation hockey, as befits a team that stood on the cups of elimination in four straight games, a situation that nobody imagined when the playoff pairings were decided that last week of the season. Down 3-0 in games heading into the Pepsi Centre, the Stars fought back with a flurry that has been missing more than a few times in the last three games.
There were scary moments in the third period, a twenty minute frame of time that seems to cause the Stars no shortage of problems. In the last few games the Stars have fallen apart in the third, surrendering goals at key times and letting a shot at victory slip through their fingers, while there were moments in the third Friday that must have had Turco thinking here we go again, the Stars held things together and scored an insurance marker into an empty net in the last minute of play.
For Dallas it’s a life, the chance now to build on it and battle their way back into this series. It’s hard to play desperation hockey night after night, but for Dallas they have to do it three more times, they dug the hole for themselves, Friday they began to climb a little bit out of it, time will tell if they escape completely or have just delayed the inevitable!