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Pacific: Another memorable moment for Modano

by John Kreiser
Mike Modano reached another benchmark when he scored the game-winning goal for the Dallas Stars in Sunday's 4-3 win against the Edmonton Oilers. The goal was his 1,300th career point, the most by a U.S.-born player, and made him the 31st player in NHL history to reach 1,300 points.

"It's been a great run and I've been blessed to have been around this long," Modano said after getting the 88th game-winning goal of his 19-year career. "The game has been very good to me, and I can't ask for a better organization or city than I've had here in Dallas."

Added goaltender Marty Turco: "We thought he was all done with milestones and another one creeps up on us. He'll probably tell you the timing of the goal was the most important thing."

Modano appears to have adapted well to the role of elder statesman -- he's the oldest player on the team and the only one who predates the Stars' arrival in Dallas. He's no longer counted on to carry the offensive load, but remains a player opposing teams have to be concerned about when he's on the ice.

"Most nights he goes out there and has fun," coach Dave Tippett said. "He's enjoying what he's doing and he's getting rewarded for it. He's been a very good player for us."

Tippett also liked the timing of Modano's latest goal.

"You don't get to 1,300 points without being a great player, and it's great to see him score such a goal that's very meaningful for our group right now," Tippett said.

No. 2 and trying harder -- The Anaheim Ducks are one team that loses nothing when they use their backup goaltender. In fact, Jonas Hiller played so well last week he was named the NHL's second star for Nov. 24-30.

Hiller beat Chicago 1-0 on Friday and Carolina 4-1 on Sunday, stopping 62 of 63 shots. He was 6-1-1 with a 1.94 goals-against average and .936 save percentage before taking the loss in a relief appearance Monday night in Detroit, when he allowed a third-period goal in a 2-1 loss.

"Lately I have been playing a lot; well, for me it's a lot," Hiller said after getting his second shutout of the season by stopping 26 Chicago shots. "I'm happy for the experience, knowing I prepared myself to be sharp when the puck drops."

Hiller is well paid for an NHL backup goaltender ($1.3 million), but there's no question the Ducks are getting their money's worth.

"No matter who's in goal, all we ask is he give us a chance," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "He's held up his end of the bargain."

Happily for the Ducks, the 26-year-old is content -- for now -- in his role as Jean-Sebastien Giguere's backup. He played consecutive games because Giguere had to leave the team to attend to a family matter.

"My goal, for sure, is to be a No. 1 goaltender somewhere, whether that is here or somewhere else," Hiller said. "It's not going to happen tomorrow."

It may happen sometime, but the Ducks certainly are in no hurry for that day.

Musical goalies -- Four games in six nights this week will give Los Angeles coach Terry Murray the opportunity to give both his goaltenders plenty of work.

Jason LaBarbera, who had been supplanted by Erik Ersberg after starting the Kings' first 10 games, gave the Kings a 2-1 win at Edmonton on Nov. 25 by making 22 saves in his first start since Nov. 1. The win came on the heels of a 6-2 blowout loss in Calgary in which Ersberg was replaced in the second period after allowing four goals and earned him a start against Toronto on Monday night -- a game in which he allowed two goals but lost 3-1.

"We have four games in six days and it is important we have two goalies that are capable of playing and to keep playing," Murray said. "I really liked the way LaBarbera played in Edmonton; he had a big win for us. It was important to bounce back and do the right step as a team and get the win under our belt. He is ready to play, he is hungry and he wants to get back in there."

LaBarbera stopped 15 of 17 shots in relief against the Flames and said the work made a big difference when he got the call against the Oilers.

"It was a blessing in disguise coming in in Calgary," he said. "I hadn't played really in a while and it was good to get some action and really helped me the following night in Edmonton."

Ersberg is expected to play Tuesday night at Phoenix. He's won both career starts against the Coyotes, stopping 73 of 78 shots.

Ersberg rebounded from the poor showing against Calgary by making 22 saves in the Kings' 5-2 win over Chicago on Saturday.

"The last couple of games I had not been too happy with (my play), so it was good to play a good game," he said.

Murray said he's content to switch his goaltenders around as the situation and matchups dictate.

"If I had a No. 1 guy that could play 83 games, I would do that," he said. "You take a look around the League, there are only three or four those guys in the League that can do that. In our situation, I am going to keep going with two goaltenders. I am confident in both guys."

Sitting's no fun for Jokinen -- Phoenix center Olli Jokinen can't wait to get back on the ice.

Jokinen had his consecutive-games played streak end at 397 when he was unable to play Nov.  28, two nights after he injured his shoulder in a 3-2 win at Columbus. The preliminary diagnosis was that he would miss 2-4 weeks.

The Finnish center hadn't missed a game since 2002-03, when he was a member of the Florida Panthers. Sitting and watching his teammates wasn't much fun.

"It's tough because I haven't missed a game in so long," he told the team's Web site. "I can't remember the last time I watched a game upstairs, and I did that with the Colorado game (on Friday) and it was just too painful to watch because you can't really do anything and you can't really help your teammates."

Jokinen said he's being proactive as he tries to work his way back from the injury, though he hasn't set a specific date for his return.

"The way I'm looking at this is that it's like a mini-training camp for me in the middle of the season -- and I've never had that," Jokinen said. "I just hope that when I come back I'm feeling even better than how I was feeling before the injury. That's the goal."

The Coyotes will be glad to have him back. Jokinen had 18 points (7 goals, 11 assists) in 22 games before the injury.

Ice chips -- Right wing Riley Armstrong played in his first NHL game Saturday when the San Jose Sharks visited Phoenix. The brother of Atlanta Thrashers center Colby Armstrong, Riley played in front of a crowd that included his parents. With Jonathan Cheechoo not likely to play Tuesday against Toronto, Armstrong figures to be going against Saskatoon neighbor Luke Schenn, the Leafs' first-round pick in last June's Entry Draft and now one of their regular defensemen. How close were they? "Our backyards were conjoined when we were growing up," he said. ... Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov showed no rust after missing nearly three weeks with a lower-body injury. He won his first three starts, extending the Sharks' win streak to seven. ... With a goal and 11 assists in 19 games this season, Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle has equaled his point total from last season, when he finished with 5 goals and 7 assists in 43 games. ... Mikael Tellqvist is earning more playing time for Phoenix with his strong play in goal. He was expected to get the call against Los Angeles on Tuesday after stopping 95 of 99 shots in Phoenix's last three games (two starts and one relief appearance). ... Dallas' 4-3 win against Edmonton on Sunday continued the Stars' domination of the Oilers in Texas. Since moving from Minnesota, the Stars are 23-4-2 against Edmonton in Dallas and 42-9-5 overall in the regular season. Overall, the Stars have won 10 of the last 11 meetings against the Oilers. The teams will see each other again Wednesday, as the Stars complete a two-game swing through Alberta with a visit to Rexall Place. ... While many of the Dallas Stars have struggled, Loui Eriksson is off to a terrific start with team-highs of 11 goals and 19 points through November. He had 14 goals and 31 points all last season. "I've had the pucks roll the right way for me so far this year," he said of his unexpected fast start. "My teammates have been able to get the pucks, and I've just been in the right place at the right time." ... The Kings must have been sorry to see November end. Los Angeles was 7-4-2 last month to move above the .500 mark at 10-9-3. The Kings allowed just 2.43 goals per game in their 13 November contests. ... L.A. defenseman Jack Johnson is practicing again, though he's wearing a yellow "no contact" jersey to protect his injured left shoulder. "During practice it felt pretty good; I have to wait until my left shoulder is as strong as my right shoulder," Johnson told the media following Sunday's practice. ... The Kings returned 6-foot-7 center Brian Boyle to their American Hockey League affiliate in Manchester after Saturday's 5-2 win against Chicago. "He had some good games, but we need him to be more consistent in his performance," coach Terry Murray said. "In my mind, he has a good idea and understanding of where I am with him and what he needs to give a big push to in his game when he is playing in Manchester." ... Joe Louis Arena continues to be a tough place for the Anaheim Ducks to win. Detroit's 2-1 victory Monday dropped the Ducks to 3-20-3-3 during the regular season. The Ducks actually have more playoff wins (four) than regular-season victories (three) at the Joe. ... Teemu Selanne's 13 goals are well off the NHL lead, but his 12 power-play goals are by far the most in the League. He scored No. 12 in Sunday's 4-1 win at Carolina to become the first player since 1992-93 to get 12 power-play goals in his team's first 25 games.

Material from wire services and team Web sites was used in this report.

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