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Modano returns to Dallas as Wings visit Stars

by Brian Hunter
RED WINGS (2-0-1) at STARS (2-0-0)

Season series:
First of four meetings this season. Dallas won three of four on the 2009-10 slate, including a 3-2 shootout win in the most recent matchup on Jan. 16. Todd Bertuzzi of the Red Wings led all scorers in the series with three goals, while the Stars got two apiece from Loui Eriksson, James Neal and Karlis Skrastins.

Big story:
It's not often that a player wearing the winged wheel on his jersey receives the love and adoration of the Dallas fans, but there's little doubt that is what will take place on Thursday when Mike Modano makes his return to the American Airlines Center. Modano played the first 1,459 games of his NHL career in the Stars organization after Minnesota made him the No. 1 pick in the 1988 Entry Draft. He became the all-time leading scorer among U.S.-born players and led Dallas to the Stanley Cup in 1999 during his 20-year run with the team. When the Stars decided not to offer Modano a contract after last season, he signed a one-year deal with Detroit.
Team Scope:
Red Wings: Even though Detroit got a point out of Tuesday's game against visiting Colorado, it wasn't a good end result. The Red Wings led multiple leads slip away, including 3-1 late in the second period, before falling 5-4 in a six-round shootout. According to coach Mike Babcock, the game slipped away long before the penalty-shot tiebreaker, as his team got sloppy with the puck and repeatedly paid the price.

"Their first three (goals) were all turnovers. If I'm not mistaken, even the fourth one was a turnover. You can't turn the puck over," Babcock said. "They did a good job of not turning the puck over. They went north-south and we went more east-west and when you do that you get more turnovers … and it ends up in your net."

Stars: It's the home opener for Dallas, which got to enjoy four days off after opening the season with hard-fought victories over New Jersey and the New York Islanders. The Stars overcame 2-0 and 3-2 deficits en route to a 4-3 overtime win over the Devils on Friday. The following night, it was the exact opposite -- the Stars jumped ahead early while the Islanders spent the game rallying and eventually knotted the score. Mike Ribeiro eventually secured the second point by scoring the only goal in the shootout for a 5-4 victory.

"The guys dug in, we got a couple of good saves, and the shootout is so important in the League, you find a way to win, and we found a way to win tonight," coach Marc Crawford said. "They're not all going to be masterpieces and you can learn a lot from a victory as well."

Who's hot: Bertuzzi is off to a fast start, leading the Red Wings with 4 assists and 5 points. Bertuzzi, Johan Franzen (3-1-4) and Valtteri Filppula (2-2-4) have recorded at least a point in all three games this season. … Stars captain Brenden Morrow has 3 goals in the first two games, while Brad Richards has 1 goal and a team-leading 4 points.

Injury report: Detroit forward Kris Draper is recovering from a groin injury while defenseman Brian Rafalski is expected to miss 3-4 weeks following arthroscopic knee surgery. Forward Justin Abdelkader (ribs) and defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (back spasms) are questionable to play. … Dallas forward Jamie Benn (head) is also questionable.

Stat pack: Modano scored on his first shot with the Red Wings against the Ducks and finished his first game with the team recording five shots and winning 80 percent of his faceoffs. In the two games since, though, he's only recorded one shot with a minus-3 rating. … Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen has a 3.33 goals-against average and .909 save percentage through two games, stopping 70 of 77 shots.

Puck drop:
Detroit has added Modano but on Tuesday said goodbye -- as a player, at least -- to an important piece of its past. Kirk Maltby, a member of Stanley Cup championship teams in 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2008, announced his retirement and will remain with the organization as a pro scout.

"Being drafted in 1992, I was just kind of happy to be around and happy playing hockey," said Maltby, acquired by the Wings from the Oilers in 1996. "I never would have thought that 18 years later, I’d be part of four Stanley Cups and have played over a thousand games. I feel truly privileged for what my career has brought me."

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