It took 24 games, but Marty Turco finally recorded his first career playoff shutout.
Yes, that’s sort of a spoiler, but of course it’s not, really. We all know how this ends, even if the details have faded over the course of a decade. At the time, however, this was a seminal moment for Turco. To bounce back and regain home ice after the crushing defeat two days prior, and to do so in a rather stifling fashion, was nothing short of heroic.
The rosters had gotten a bit of a makeover since the Never Ending Story that was Game 1. The Canucks would need more reinforcements after Matt Cooke and Alex Burrows suffered injuries that were related in no wise to their generally unappealing demeanor and disgusting approach to the game of hockey. In addition, Ryan Kesler was also scratched after suffering a broken finger from the marathon Game 1. As he was still very young, and had not totally learned from Cooke and Burrows yet, we can only consider Kesler a Proto-Doofus at this point.
For Dallas, Steve Ott would draw in, supplanting the young Loui Eriksson. Let that sentence roll around on your palate for a bit, then realize that Ott played only 3:59 this game. It is the good old hockey game.
So, it turns out that The Internet is less interested in archiving extensive video for hockey teams when 1) the Canadian team is shut out, and 2) we are reliant upon the NHL to archive even low-quality highlight packages. Thus, all I have in the way of video evidence for this game is below. It is a garbage, replay-less package that reeks of some employee meeting their minimum requirements for a game and calling it a day. Still, we do have some game stories to augment our collective memory, so let’s piece together what we can without getting too bitter at the NHL for shutting down all the Team-run websites that had previously hosted so, so much great video content, including a 20-minute highlight package of the Stars/Sharks Game 6 from 2008 that I can no longer find. This league is just the absolute worst.
Well, at least we get to hear Dave Strader, right?
Ahem. So, the Goals: when Joel Lundqvist and Jeff Halpern are scoring on This Year’s Roberto Luongo, you can make a fairly safe bet that they probably came as a result of fantastic assists. Indeed, you would be correct in this assertion, as both bottom-sixers were the beneficiaries of next-level assists by Sergei Zubov and Mike Modano. (You may be asking why Joel Lundqvist was on the ice with Modano in the first place. The prosaic answer is that it was simply a result of on-the-fly shift changes with some overlap, but I prefer to think that Lundqvist was just desperate to play with Mo any chance he got, and so he would periodically just hop on over those boards before Ladislav Nagy got the chance. I mean, it’s Ladislav Nagy.
Anyway, Halpern’s goal came in the opening minute of the game off a sweet shot by Zubov that was probably a “shass,” as Razor calls them, intended to be tipped. Indeed, Jeffrey did so, discovering in the process that the only real way to beat Luongo in 2007 was to treat him like an EA Sports goalie set on Expert. Thankfully, Marty Turco was able to answer him at the other end, because Halpern’s goal would stand up.
By the way, in case you forgot how awesome goaltender quote can be, here is what Turco said about the shutout at the time:
Turco shrugged when asked about his first shutout in 24 career playoff games.
"I thought I had one the other night," he deadpanned. "I went three straight periods. I count those.
"It's great for the team to shut these guys down. We played a solid 60 minutes, scored early and continued to push. I've got to hand it to the guys for pushing and doing the things that make us successful."
The wave of emotion the Canucks were riding after the overtime win hit a rock when the Stars took the early lead.
"It was a shame because that was the ball game, pretty much," said Canuck goaltender Roberto Luongo, who made 25 saves. "First shift, the first two periods, they score and that's it."
If I ever played professional hockey, I would use the phrase “ball game” in every single interview ever, just waiting for someone to call me on it. I doubt they ever would.
Anyway, yeah. That first goal would end up being all the Stars needed, and the Canucks didn’t get many chances to match even that. Power plays may have been 7-6 to Dallas, but both teams went 0-fer, owing in part to the fact that Vancouver took themselves off the power play within a minute or so four of the six times they went on the job. That’s a bit of a buzzkill, really.
That said, the Canucks still outshot Dallas 35-27, although most documentation of the game indicates that the shot totals were more representative of score effects than actual dominance, as scoring chances were at a premium.
And speaking of premium, try, if you can, to watch Modano’s feed to Lundqvist for goal #2 back up there. Again, I can’t think of anyone outside of Crosby or maybe Joe Thornton who could so effortlessly dish out backhand helpers like this. A 2-0 lead when the Stars were playing mad and disciplined (or, as disciplined as a team that takes seven penalties could ever be called) was as good as a death sentence for Vancouver (though the fact that the officials eagerly evened up a lot of those penalties smacks of makeup calling, to me).
Oh, Jan Bulis apparently hit a post at some point, but of course that was not deemed worthy of being tossed into the highlights package, so I will leave it to you, gentle reader, to sort out for yourself whether Vancouver was ever really close to evening things up in this game.
For all that, Turco was asked to be great, and he was indeed. If that sweet toe-save (or “toe poke check”) is nice, just think about his earlier stand-up stop on a shot from the angle. I still can’t get over how he played those shots, since the Stars haven’t had a goalie who wouldn’t be doing a butterfly post-lean in that situation for like eight years. One of my old hockey friends and teammates in California was, regrettably, a Ducks fan. However, he would always rave about Turco and Morrow, who he just couldn’t force himself to dislike. This was a special Dallas Stars era, even if it never quite matched the greatness of the previous one.
So the series was tied 1-1, and it headed back to Dallas. We were just getting started, but each team had landed a punch, and any momentum the Canucks had gotten from Game 1 seemed all but gone. We will get to game three next time, but as far as the series goes, I will tease you with this: Joel Lundqvist’s prettiest goal was yet to come. I am not very good at teasers.