DALLAS - That low-scoring, tight-checking game Dallas Stars captain Brenden Morrow expected from the Minnesota Wild never materialized.
Morrow had two goals, Mike Ribeiro matched a career high with his 20th goal and added two assists, and the Stars routed the Wild 8-3 on Wednesday night. Dallas scored nine goals in 255 minutes of regulation and overtime in four meetings with Minnesota last season and the Stars anticipated more of the same in their first matchup of 2007-08.
Eight goals in 60 minutes seemed a little far-fetched before the game got under way.
"You don't expect that," Morrow said. "But with Christmas, travelling, there's a lot of distractions this time of year. We were more focused early and things started going our way."
Dallas' Mike Modano extended his goal-scoring record for U.S.-born players with the 518th of his career. Modano also contributed an assist to give him 1,250 career points, also tops among U.S.-born players.
Niklas Hagman, Stu Barnes, Jeff Halpern, and Loui Eriksson also scored for the Stars, 7-1 in their last eight games and winners of 15 of their last 20.
"Games like that don't happen very often," Ribeiro said. "It's nice to get a full, all-around effort."
Pavol Demitra notched two goals, and Aaron Voros had a goal and an assist for the Wild.
Dallas had its biggest scoring game since a 9-1 win over Chicago on Nov. 4, 2005. The Stars moved to 10-1-1 in their last 12 meetings with the Wild.
Minnesota hadn't given up that many goals since an 8-3 defeat at Detroit on Nov. 16, 2001.
"We give them chances, we're not sharp and we're playing against good players," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. "We were playing a good team that knows what they're doing. And they played a great game. If you don't want to skate, you're done. I had to change three lines because it's not working. One guy doesn't work, the other doesn't get involved and the other is not skating."
Hagman's one-timer from low in the right circle beat Minnesota goaltender Josh Harding 1:33 into the game, Hagman's 15th of the season.
Voros' sixth goal of the season, from low in the right circle, tied it at one at 4:50 of the first.
Ribeiro answered on a backhander 1:30 later, but Demitra's sharp-angled shot 37 seconds after that got by Dallas goalie Marty Turco and tied it at two.
Turco was struggling and coach Dave Tippett thought about a goalie change, but Turco's teammates gave him a lift.
"I was concerned about our goaltender early," Tippett said. "It was all about the goaltender. It was not just the two he let in, but the four he bobbled. It was on my mind to take him out, but we chatted between periods and he said he would be all right."
Dallas fought back to grab a 3-2 advantage at 9:33 of the first period on Halpern's short-handed goal, his eighth.
Barnes' third of the season 3:50 into the second period stretched Dallas' lead to 4-2, but Demitra's seventh of the season at 8:13 of the second on a blast from the left circle pulled Minnesota within 4-3.
Morrow struck from the slot at 8:12 of the final period and Modano added his 11th 14 seconds later to give Dallas a 6-3 pad.
Morrow's power-play goal - his 15th of the season - at 15:28 of the third period and Eriksson's second of the season 49 seconds later turned the game into a rout.
"When you look at the result, it was really ugly," said Minnesota's Branko Radivojevic. "We're not used to the other team scoring eight goals. Three goals in the first period is too much, but we were still in the game. Then on that one shift they scored two goals."
Notes: Ribeiro's previous 20-goal season came in 2003-04 for Montreal, but he needed 81 games to get there. His 20 goals have come in 35 games this season. ... D Mattias Norstrom (lower body injury) missed his second consecutive game for Dallas. ... LW Derek Boogaard (back) and C Mikko Koivu (leg) are out for the Wild. ... Minnesota had been 4-1 in its previous five games. ... Morrow has 150 career goals. ...Dallas' penalty kill is 13-for-13 in the last three games.