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Stargazing: Stars defeat Flames 5-2

Entering play Friday night, the Dallas Stars were the only team in the Western Conference without a victory. They were just waiting for the conference-best Flames to get that first one.

Dallas got goals from Mike Ribeiro, Tom Wandell, Brian Sutherby and Loui Eriksson's heel to hand Calgary their first loss of the season on Saddledome ice. After action on Saturday in Nashville, it's possible the Stars could be the only team in the conference without a regulation loss.

In a battle of backup netminders, Alex Auld defeated Curtis McElhinney after the Stars gave him a relatively easy night between the pipes:

"I felt good -- I had a lot of help," said Auld, who played with Ottawa last season. "It was my first chance to make an impression, and it turned out pretty good. I got a lot of help -- for the most part, I was able to see every shot. The defense did a good job of tying up sticks and keeping everything to the outside."

Auld certainly made a good impression on his new coach, Marc Crawford.

 


"I thought he managed the game well," Crawford said after getting his first win with Dallas. [NHL.com]

After the jump, reaction across the web from the Stars victory...

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While the Stars played hard for Auld, aided in part by having two days off in Calgary between games, the talk in the Flames locker room was just the opposite. Every time Curtis McElhinney gets in the game, his teammates seem to fizzle.

"It’s tough," said forward Rene Bourque, who scored his third goal of the season in a losing cause.

"It seems like every time he gets a chance to play, we come out flat. Just bad luck. They get a quick, early goal on him and it kills us a little bit.

"Hopefully, he can battle back and the next time he gets in there, we can get a big win for him." [Calgary Herald]

After being out of position on Ribeiro's goal early in the first, McElhinney appeared to bounce back strong, denying some premium chances the Stars, one on Loui Eriksson in particular late in the first. But his night would only go downhill from there.

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Discussion across the internet amongst Stars fans turned to "Turco vs Auld" last night after the game. Mike Heika weighs in on the discussion:

That does not mean Auld is going to get the start on Sunday against Vancouver or is going to suddenly become the Stars' No. 1 goalie. My guess is Marty Turco plays against the Canucks, because that is how it is drawn up on paper. Turco, the Stars believe, is their best chance to be competitive, and Auld is the person who will help him get to that place. Turco worked out hard on Thursday, and really looked at some weaknesses in his game. Now, the test comes. Will his work and introspection allow him to play better? We'll wait and see against the Canucks.

This looks like win-win for the Stars. If Auld is the catalyst that helps to push Turco in the right direction, then signing him was a success. If instead, Auld just flat out-performs Marty for stretches and earns more starts than expected, it's a win for Nieuwendyk and Crawford as well. It's only one game, but it appears they got what they wanted in the off-season: Someone to challenge Marty Turco.

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The players appreciate his (Auld's) hard work: [Dallas Morning News]

"He's a big boy and he stood up big for us early," said center Mike Ribeiro, who gave the Stars an early 1-0 lead at the 1:02 mark of the first period. "We played with the lead, we played with confidence, and he was a big part of that. It feels really good to get that first win."

"We've been really impressed with him and his work ethic, and we want to play hard for him," Stars captain Brenden Morrow said. "We see how hard he works and we appreciate that. I don't think there's any way to force this stuff, it just happens. But I do feel it's happening with him."

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And of course our very own Brandon Worley weighed in last night, touching a subject I believe is of the utmost importance:

First the bad: The Dallas Stars penalty kill continues to struggle. They are now 5-for-12 on the penalty kill this season and have dropped to 28th in the NHL at 58%. What's frustrating is that they don't appear to be an inept PK unit that allows the opposition free reign in the offensive zone; they're aggressive and mostly successful at what they're trying to do. Unfortunately, most of the goals scored on the Stars have come on the PK this season.

4 points out of  possible 6. No regulation losses yet. OK. The PK hasn't burned them too terribly bad yet, but it will soon if they can't figure it out. That's one area where whether it's Turco or Auld, they've been bad.

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Nick Grossman and Stephane Robidas quietly had a big night, both earning themselves a huge +5 on the evening.

1. Dallas D Stephane Robidas --little defender supplies his usual grit. Blocks shots. two helpers. Plus five

2. Dallas C Mike Ribeiro--scores a minute into the first period. sets up a goal a minute into the second.

3. Calgary LW Fredrik Sjostrom --one of the few hosts with pep in his step. Earns promotion to third line.

At least this morning, that Robidas contract is looking pretty good. We'll see.


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Meanwhile in Houston, the Texas Stars were getting it done for Brent Krahn in goal.

Houston, TX – The Texas Stars defeated the Houston Aeros 3-2 on Friday night in front of 8,514 fans at the Toyota Center. Texas goalie Brent Krahn made 33 saves for his first win of the season. Stars forwards Scott McCulloch, Sergei Korostin and Greg Rallo each scored in the team’s first road win. Houston goalie Wade Dubielewicz stopped 17 of 20 in the loss. Texas rookie center Colton Sceviour recorded two assists for the first multi-point game of his career. The Stars will remain in Houston for a rematch on Saturday night at 7:35 pm.

So it was a good night for Stars backups all-around.