Ribeiro's hat trick helps Stars jolt Panthers

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By Rick Menning

PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SUNRISE, Florida (Ticker) -- Mike Ribeiro figured out a way to

defeat the Florida Panthers in regulation.

Ribeiro recorded his first career hat trick Wednesday as the

Dallas Stars posted a 4-1 triumph over the Panthers.

Mike Modano netted a power-play goal and Marty Turco turned

aside 27 shots for Dallas, which improved to 3-1-1 in its last

five games.

"I'll take it. It feels good after almost 10 years," Ribeiro

said of his first three-goal performance in nine seasons. "The

two points for the team means a lot more, though."

Defenseman Karlis Skrastins opened the scoring and Tomas Vokoun

made 21 saves for Florida, which suffered its first regulation

loss this month (5-1-3).

"We didn't do much offensively at all tonight," Panthers center

Stephen Weiss said. "They did to us what we wanted to do to

them. Flat is a pretty good word for how we played."

After Skrastins gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead midway through the

first period, the Stars responded with a pair of tallies in the

second, including Ribeiro's first goal with 32 seconds remaining

in the session.

"He worked hard for his opportunities tonight," Dallas coach

Dave Tippett said of Ribeiro. "When he goes to the net and

creates plays like he did tonight, he's as solid as anyone."

Ribeiro beat Vokoun again from in close just 3:45 into the third

and capped his hat trick with an empty-netter with 26 seconds

remaining, sealing the win.

"You want to keep pushing to the net. It's up to you to create

your chances," Ribeiro said. "I don't know if it was meant to

be, but one last (time), the puck just wound up on my stick."

Modano leveled the contest at 1-1 when he beat Vokoun after

receiving a cross-ice pass from Brad Richards at 12:33 of the

second period. It was Modano's 14th goal of the season and 10th

in 19 career games against the Panthers.

"The last 40 minutes, we were really strong," Modano said.

"Everybody was coming to the puck hard and supporting each other

in the zone."

Ribeiro gave the Stars the lead for good late in the middle

session by directing the puck into a vacant net after Vokoun

made a save on rookie James Neal.

"It's nice to have some momentum heading into the (All-Star)

break," Tippett said. "It was a tale of two games. We

rectified some things after the first (period) and really took

charge of the game."

Florida coach Peter DeBoer credited Dallas for increasing the

intensity in both the second and third periods.

"They raised their level a notch, and we didn't go with them.

It didn't seem like we had a lot of gas in the tank tonight,"

DeBoer said. "We really played well in the first (period). To

their credit, they came out and responded in the second, and we

didn't have anything to go with them."

Florida came out aggressive and jumped ahead with 7:19 remaining

in the first period as Skrastins gathered a rebound and

backhanded the puck past Turco for his third tally of the

season.

"Obviously, you want to go into the break with a win, but it's

not the end of the world," Panthers defenseman Bryan McCabe

said. "We've got a lot of hockey to go, so we can't get too

down."

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