The Dallas Stars have won two in a row despite a growing list of injured regulars. Marty Turco has been a big reason for that.
After offsetting the loss of top scorer and captain Mike Modano in the last game, Turco looks to help the Stars (18-9-0) keep pace in the powerful Pacific Division when they face the Phoenix Coyotes (10-15-0) on Wednesday night.
Modano, who leads Dallas with 10 goals and 20 points, scored Monday night against San Jose before exiting in the second period with a lower-body injury. Stars coach Dave Tippett said Modano will be evaluated Tuesday, and the center's status for Wednesday is uncertain.
Despite the loss of their top offensive player, the Stars managed to defeat the Sharks 1-0 behind Turco, who made 25 saves for his second shutout of the season and 26th of his career.
Turco has backstopped Dallas to its consecutive wins after the team dropped three in a row. Turco suffered two of those losses, to Detroit and Chicago, by 2-1 scores.
"We hadn't been playing well, and we had a depleted corps, so this was a big confidence builder for all of us," he said. "It's all about the wins and giving the team a chance."
With a 2.10 goals-against average and .921 save percentage, Turco has been doing just that for a club that was also missing left wing Brenden Morrow (groin), forward Eric Lindros (bruised foot), defensemen Trevor Daley (concussion) and Darryl Sydor (arm) and right wing Antti Miettinen (lower body) on Monday.
"We have a lot of people nursing injuries," Tippett said.
Turco has allowed two goals or fewer in five of his last six appearances. He had 32 saves in a 4-3 shootout win over Minnesota on Saturday.
"Marty's been there for us all season," Stars defenseman Philippe Boucher said.
Tippett's team has also used home ice to its advantage in overcoming the personnel losses. The Stars improved to 10-2-0 at the American Airlines Center on Monday with their fifth straight win in Dallas. They"ll be playing the third game of a four-game homestand Wednesday.
The Stars face a tough task in competing in the Pacific Division, where three of the top four teams point-wise in the Western Conference reside. Dallas' victory Monday pulled it within four points of the second-place Sharks in the Pacific, but despite having one of the highest win totals in the NHL, the Stars are 10 points behind first-place Anaheim.
Dallas may not even get a break Wednesday against one of the lesser teams in the division, as it faces a Phoenix club that's looking for its fourth straight victory. That run would be the Coyotes' longest since a five-game winning streak from Dec. 31, 2003-Jan. 9, 2004.
The Coyotes defeated Nashville 3-2 on Monday for their fifth straight home victory. Yanic Perreault continued his outstanding production, scoring the tying goal 28 seconds into the third period as Phoenix rallied from a 2-1 deficit.
Perreault, signed Oct. 29, has eight goals and four assists in only 13 games with the Coyotes.
"I don't know where we'd be if we hadn't signed him," Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. "He has given us a lift we've needed."
While the Coyotes have been playing well, they have one of the league's worst road records at 2-9-0 - and have fared even worse against the Stars this season. Dallas won the first meeting 4-0 on Oct. 21 with a 22-save performance by Mike Smith and took the second matchup 1-0 behind Turco on Nov. 9.
Dallas has allowed only 58 goals on the season.
"We still have home games left on this homestand," Stars center Stu Barnes said, "and have some challenges ahead that will be important for us to be ready for."
The Stars and Coyotes meet again Saturday night at Phoenix.