Dallas avoided an early elimination from the NHL playoffs with an impressive 4-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night behind Niklas Hagman's first two goals of the postseason.
Colorado's quest for a stunning 4-0 sweep of the second-seeded Stars hit a stumbling block in the second period when Dallas goaltender Marty Turco made a risky move that fired up the Stars, who outshot the Avalanche 19-6.
Two of those shots found the net.
Hagman's breakaway goal off Sergei Zubov's pass broke a 1-1 tie less than 4 minutes into the period, and Bill Guerin's wraparound goal between goaltender Jose Theodore's skates came at 18:41 and took the air out of the Avs.
In between, Turco, who won for just the second time in nine playoff games against the Avalanche, came out of the net to play the puck, colliding with Colorado forward Alex Tanguay just above the right circle. In the ensuing scramble, Dallas defenseman Willie Mitchell slid over to deflect Ian Laperriere's shot near the net.
The Stars outshot the Avs 39-23.
The best-of-seven Western Conference series will return to Dallas for Game 5 on Sunday night. The Stars are hoping to join the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and the 1975 New York Islanders as the only teams in league history to win a playoff series after falling behind 3-0.
For the first three games, every lucky bounce went Colorado's way. The Avs won Games 2 and 3 in overtime after knotting each contest with fortuitous goals late in the third period.
There was no such Colorado comeback in store this time. Even though the Avs matched Dallas' intensity in the third period, they finished 0-for-6 on the power play and couldn't control the pace or the puck enough to take shots at Turco, who had allowed 15 goals in the series.
The Stars simply had too much energy -- perhaps a byproduct of coach Dave Tippett's decision to cancel practice Thursday but just as likely the heightened level of adrenaline borne out of the desire to avoid an embarrassing sweep at the hands of the seventh-seeded Avs.
Hagman's second goal, into an empty net, came with 1:15 left and sent the crowd streaming to the exits.
Colorado went ahead less than 5 minutes in on Brad Richardson's first career goal in the NHL playoffs after he was set up on a pass from behind the net by Antti Laaksonen for a 1-0 lead.
The Stars tied it less than 3 minutes later. Jere Lehtinen capitalized on Karlis Skrastins falling out of position to slap the puck past Theodore from the right circle on a goal assisted by Mike Modano, who has been amazingly quiet in this series.
Colorado hasn't swept a series since the 2001 quarterfinals against Vancouver. Dallas hasn't been swept since the conference semifinals that year by St. Louis. ... Zubov had two assists.
Rob Blake: "We knew they were going to give it their best. They have a lot of character, and a lot of veterans over there. We weren't up to the task. They are right back in this series. Now we have to try and go back there and win a game in their building. They are going to be ready to go, and we have to be up for it and a little better than we were today. They were hungry for the puck, they put a lot of shots on net. Marty (Turco) is a good goaltender. That's why he is one of the tops in the league. You knew he would rebound and play well. We can get more traffic and more shots at him though.
Brad Richardson: On his first career playoff goal: "We dumped it in had a great forecheck. Danny Hinote got in on the forecheck, got it back to Laaksonen behind the net and he made a great pass. I just had to shoot it and luckily it went in." General... " I think we have been playing pretty well, but I think we have to get more shots, and more people at the net. We need to step up our intensity a bit because it's going to be a bid game (Game 5). There are going come out real hard like they did tonight. We are going to have to go in there and play well to beat them."
Philippe Boucher: "We played really well from Marty (Turco) to the defense. We haven't really tested Theodore all series long. This was more the type of game we have played all year. Marty was huge he played really well. I thought he played the puck like he did in the regular season. It was good to see. It's just one game though. It's going to be a long series, and it has to be we have no choice. We are going to have a fired up crowd in Dallas Sunday afternoon."
Marty Turco: "A game like this where it is do or die, it's not hard to give everything you have. We know we can play well, we don't wish anything was different. We want to do it this way. We want to earn everything we get. There is a great belief in this locker room, and it really shone through tonight."