With two months left in 2007-08, Niklas Hagman already has more goals and more points than he has in any of his previous five seasons. Thanks to Hagman's latest tally, the Dallas Stars are in position to match their longest win streak of the season.
|Jussi Jokinen (left) celebrates with Niklas Hagman after Hagman's goal put the Stars ahead on Thursday. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
After using Hagman's goal to extend their run with a 1-0 victory, the Stars go for their sixth straight win on Saturday when they host the St. Louis Blues.
Hagman scored 3:11 into the third period on Thursday to provide the only offense in Dallas' (33-20-5) 1-0 victory over Minnesota.
"Anytime you can get two points it doesn't matter where you get them," said Hagman, who has two goals and an assist during Dallas' win streak - the team's longest since a six-game run Nov. 16-26.
Thursday's goal was Hagman's 20th of the season, topping his previous career high of 17 set in 2006-07. He's also set a new career mark with 31 points - two more than he had last season. The Stars are 12-4-2 when Hagman scores a goal, and 16-6-3 when he records a point.
"I've been able to play a little bit more offensively, and get the chance to play on the power play," he said. "Of course, scoring 20 is nice, but the whole year overall I've been pretty happy with the way that things have gone, and the way the team is playing right now has helped a lot."
Hagman, though, has just one goal and no assists in 13 career games against the Blues (24-21-7).
Dallas goaltender Mike Smith recorded his second shutout of the season on Thursday while filling in for Marty Turco, who didn't make the trip to Minnesota after injuring his neck when he collided with teammate Jeff Halpern in Tuesday's win over Vancouver.
"Marty's probably stole four wins for the team, and that's what we've got to do right now," Smith said. "The difference between wins and losses is a timely save here or there and then a big goal. It was a huge win."
Turco, who is 8-4-1 with one tie, two shutouts and a 1.94 goals-against average in 15 career games against St. Louis, could return Saturday. If he is unable to play, the Stars will again turn to Smith, who is 1-2-0 with a 3.93 GAA in three career games against the Blues.
St. Louis has lost back-to-back games at home despite scoring four goals in each of those contests. After tying Tuesday's game against Tampa Bay at 2, the Blues gave up three unanswered goals in the first 15 minutes of the third period and eventually fell 5-4.
"You shouldn't have to score as many goals as we've had to score to get points at home," said Blues coach Andy Murray, whose club is just 2-7-2 in its last 11 games overall.
St. Louis goaltender Manny Legace's struggles are part of the problem. He's 2-5-1 with a 3.51 GAA in his last eight games. In 12 career games against Dallas, he's 5-2-1 with two ties, two shutouts and a 1.62 GAA.
The Blues are 1-0-1 against the Stars this season, and have recorded a point in five straight games (4-0-1) against them dating to last February.