ANAHEIM, Calif. – A happy entry into the second half of the season by the Anaheim Ducks was easily summarized by the one-two punch of Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne.
Selanne blew by the defense to set up the go-ahead goal by Koivu. He then showed his unselfishness by getting the puck to his fellow Finn for an empty-net goal to complete Koivu's hat trick in a 5-2 victory against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night.
Koivu recorded his second career hat trick and first since 2002. Selanne's two assists came in his 1,300th game.
But this was not a night for individual accolades:
Anaheim has won three straight games for the first time since a four-game streak at beginning of the season and seems to trending upward after general manager Bob Murray publicly threatened change.
"Right now the feeling in the room is different," Koivu said. "Even if, three weeks ago, we didn't win some games, there's been a lot of good things, and we've been able to build on those things. Little by little, it's been building and you can see that by our confidence."
Anaheim blew a 2-0 lead in the first 2:43 of the third period when Dallas got to freshly recalled goalie Jeff Deslauriers.
But the Ducks responded when the 41-year-old Selanne burst up ice past defenseman Adam Pardy on the left side and dropped a pass for Koivu, who cut in and slid a backhander past Kari Lehtonen at 9:32 for his second goal of the game.
Matt Beleskey added a goal at 14:40 before Selanne found himself with the puck on his stick and Koivu on his left with an empty net.
"There's no way I would take the shot myself," Selanne said. "I knew Saku had a chance to score a hat trick. I'm so happy for him. You don't see that very often. Usually, he's the passer."
It was the first time in club history that hat tricks have been scored in consecutive games -- Corey Perry achieved the feat Sunday.
"I said, 'Thank you. You have enough of those. You have to give me one,'" Koivu said. "In my career it hasn't happened too often to get three in a row in game. I'll take that."
Selanne couldn't help but rib Koivu.
"He's a living example," Selanne said. "The shot doesn't have to be hard. He shoots muffins -- just find a way to get it in. I don't' have a hard shot. I'm a muffin man, too."
Deslauriers arrived from the Ducks' AHL affiliate in Syracuse late Monday night and was given the start when Jonas Hiller was unable to skate Tuesday morning. He stopped the first 20 shots he faced, including two glove saves at the start and a turnaround try by Loui Eriksson in the second.
But the Stars pounced on him with goals on two of their first three shots of the third, both on the glove side. Steve Ott fired home a slap shot from the top of the left circle at 1:39, and 64 seconds later Alex Goligoski scored on a wrist shot after Jamie Benn and Ott worked the puck to him on the right side.
"You're always a bit nervous, anxious to go on the ice," said Deslauriers, who got his first NHL win since April 7, 2010. "But this morning I had a good pregame skate. I saw the puck and kind of got the groove on and they played their heart out tonight."
Dallas saw its modest two-game win streak end its first half. It went scoreless on three power plays and has gone four games without a power play goal.
Jamie Benn and Nicklas Grossman each hit posts in the first period to set the tone.
"I think we hit four posts in the first 20 minutes, so if one of those goes, maybe we're not pushing so much to try and get those goals in the third," Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan said.
"I didn't mind our game altogether. I thought after we scored those two, we were right in it. They called the timeout and obviously [coach] Bruce [Boudreau] got those guys reorganized and re-energized, and they came with a big push there."
Anaheim's first two goals came off unsuccessful clearing attempts by Dallas. The Stars were outshot 13-8 in the third period, in their first game without Mike Ribeiro.
"We turned a few pucks over and we didn't get back quick enough," Goligoski said. "It was a disappointing way to end the game. We scored enough to get back in the game and we kind of just handed it back to them.
"You can have as many scoring chances as you want. If you give them a few in the last 10 minutes there, it's not a good recipe for success."
Sheldon Souray was activated from injured reserve. Dallas scratched Toby Petersen and played seven defensemen as Benn took shifts on the fourth line.
Hiller suffered a lower body injury during Sunday's game. Iiro Tarkki, who was pressed into his first NHL game that night, served as backup with Dan Ellis on injured reserve.