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Stargazing: Turco, Stars Shut Out Hurricanes, 2-0

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Stargazing is a daily assortment of Dallas Stars and Texas Stars news, and whatever other random ramblings are bouncing around inside our heads.

Like Razor often says, special teams and goaltending win you hockey games, and the Stars had both working pretty well last night as they defeated the Carolina Hurricanes on home ice 2-0.

It had been nearly four weeks since the Stars won consecutive games. They've now won four of their last six and sit in fifth place in the Western Conference. Looking at the standings this early can still cause one temporary dizziness. The seedings change dramatically by the hour, it seems. The Stars went from ninth, to fourth, to fifth very quickly last night. The Red Wings, Ducks and Canucks are on the wrong side of the line it seems, and the Nashville Predators have won six games in a row? Like I said, the standings will wait.

One thing you can see quite plainly is the improvement in the Stars health, and play. Last year on November 24th, Dallas had earned 16 points and sat 6-10-4 with a points percentage of .400%. This year, their 11-6-6 record is good for 28 points and a .609 points percentage. They've earned at least a point in 17 of their 23 games. I'm not quite ready to claim they'll earn the 100 points that projects to, but there are some good signs. They'll have to fix the offense if they're to keep improving.

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Marty Turco's shutout aside, the power play, for me, was the star last night. Richard Durrett explains:

It's easy to look at power play percentages and talk about whether a team is good or bad on the man-advantage. But when goals are scored on the power play matter too.

The Stars had great timing on Monday. They scored on their second power play, six minutes into the game. Steve Ott drew a cross check and the Stars got the goal when Jamie Benn put in a rebound. Dallas was playing better at that point and got the game's first goal.

"When you score those goals is important," Richards said. "You want to have good power plays, but you have to score goals at the critical times. We did that."

The Stars have scored two power play goals in back-to-back games (for the first time) since Dec. 2007. Can they make it three in a row on Wednesday against St. Louis?

This is exactly what this team was missing in some of these tougher losses. The Phoenix game comes to mind. A timely power play goal would have tied that game late, but they couldn't connect. They're connecting now, and it's sustaining them in a bit of an offensive drought.

Follow the jump for more quotes and reaction to last night's game...

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Speaking of that drought, people like Mike Heika have not forgotten, in spite of the two game winning streak:

The Stars have sanded and stained a lot of the lumber in their lineup, but they still could use some finish.

There's no arguing this team has plenty of skill. It's probably the most natural resource in the organization. But darned if the Stars can put the puck in the net at times.

Dallas played the kind of game against Carolina on Monday it wants to play every night, controlling the puck, creating scoring chances around the net and drawing penalties.

But against a team with the worst save percentage in the NHL, the Stars found the back of the net only twice.

...The depth is there. The talent is there. But this team has to take the final step if it wants to start stringing a lot of wins together.

Dallas has scored two goals or fewer in eight of their last ten games. No bueno.

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Check at our friends over at Canes Country for their post game coverage:

The Carolina Hurricanes had another disappointing game on the road Monday night and lost to the Dallas Stars, 2-0. The Canes remain the only team in the NHL that has not won a single game on the road. The team is once again tied with Toronto for last place in the league.

The visitors came out flat in the first period and were dominated at times by the home team. They were out-chanced 8-1, out-shot 11-8, and took three minor penalties in that opening period. More importantly, it seemed like Dallas kept the puck in the Carolina zone most of the time. The score was 1-0 when the 20 minutes was over, but it could have been much worse.

Manny Legace deserves kudos for fine play and was given third star of the game.

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The only one Marty Turco let by him last night was deemed illegal:[Raleigh News and Observer]

The Hurricanes thought they had tied it at 1 at 6:37 of the second period when the puck went over the goal line on an attempt by Ray Whitney. But after a video review, the goal was waved off when officials ruled that Whitney had kicked the puck onto his stick.

"I didn't feel it hit [his stick], no," Whitney said. "I took a swipe at it. Did I hit it, I don't know. That was a big moment in the game. It would have been a huge momentum swing for us; a huge boost for us. Goals are tough to come by in this league the way it is."

That's kind of a tough call, but unlike the Detroit non-goal, they probably got this one right. As much as we'd like to see the Stars win without these kinds of reviews involved, we'll take them however we can get them.

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Brenden Morrow was a man on a mission Monday night:[Andrew's Stars Page]

I know on a night when the goalie gets a shutout and makes some big saves at key times he’s the story of the game, but I really thought the man for the Stars tonight was Brenden Morrow. He gets in a fight 25 seconds into the game and that just seemed to pull everybody else along into the game. Even saw Brad Richards engaging in a few shoving matches out there. Morrow was parked in front of the net on both Dallas goals, assisting on one and coming close to scoring on the other. He had seven hits and was just a force out there tonight. That was leadership. He was outstanding.

He and Steve Ott both played with an almost dangerous edge to their games last night. I grew nervous instantly with that fight to start the first period that were going to see another circus like the Columbus game, but things settled down just enough, or as much as Morrow and Ott would let them. I like that side of the Stars game, but worry that it will continue to cost them suspension-wise if they get over-zealous.

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To my eyes, Jeff Woywitka had a fairly shaky outing replacing the injured Nick Grossman:[ESPN]

DALLAS -- Dallas Stars defenseman Nicklas Grossman pulled his groin during Monday's morning skate, Stars coach Marc Crawford said. Grossman tried to skate during warm-ups, but did not feel up to playing and was scratched in favor of Jeff Woywitka.

Grossman is listed as day-to-day and is not expected to practice Tuesday. If he can't play Wednesday against St. Louis, Woywitka would once again get the start.

Grossman, 24, has two points and is a plus-7 this season. He usually plays with Stephane Robidas on the top pair. Woywitka played with Robidas for most of Monday's 2-0 win over Carolina.

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Marc Crawford knows the power play shouldn't get all of the glory for last night...

"The big turning point in the game for us, the big minute in the game, was the 5-on-3 kill," Crawford said. "Marty made a couple of really good saves there. When you’re getting those saves, you’re killing penalties, you’re scoring on the power play and not taking a lot of penalties, you’re going to get rewarded for your efforts. That was a pretty complete game for us tonight."

Marty Turco:

"We played well enough to win and I thought our penalty kill played great and ended up being the difference," said Turco, who registered his second shutout of the season and 38th of his career. "Then you just look at our PP, which has a pretty simple mentality but an effective one. There was a lot of talk of us not winning two in a row and we came out with an effort that deserves a small streak. I thought everyone played really well."

It was great to hear that crowd surge with the 5-on-3 kill. It had been a pretty mediocre Monday feeling in the AAC until that. Stars fans appreciate a good PK.

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Miscellaneous:

  • How is Brad Richards involved in nearly EVERYTHING that happens for the Stars offensively? His health is of paramount importance. More so than anyone else on the team.
  • Karlis Skrastins, after having stayed out of the box for an impressive 21 games, took a penalty in his second straight contest.
  • The Stars attendance numbers on this current home stand have been (out of a possible 18,532): 16,155...17,514...16,243. That's 89.7%... Attendance is continuing to fall.
  • Wednesday's game is on Versus. Friday's game is on FSSW+. Make your viewing plans accordingly.