Turco, Stars shut out Thrashers

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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

foe.

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

some points."

"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

winning streak.

"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

said.

"I thought their goaltender made some unbelievable saves to keep

them in the game," Tippett said. "But Marty was big when we

needed him."

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

ourselves."

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.

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