The Dallas Stars' slow start is a thing of the past. The New Jersey Devils' early season struggles appear to be at an end as well.
The Stars visit a well-rested Devils club Wednesday night in the surging teams' only matchup of the season.
The sluggish opening that cost Stars general manager Doug Armstrong and team president Jim Lites their jobs seems a distant memory now for Dallas (13-7-4), which has won six in a row and earned points in eight straight games. The Stars are 6-0-1 since the two executives were dismissed.
The Pacific Division leaders kept rolling Monday, as Mike Modano scored his second goal of the game 35 seconds into overtime to lift the Stars over the New York Islanders 3-2.
The Stars have outscored opponents 20-7 during their winning streak. Dallas has taken the first two of a six-game road trip and was much better Monday than in the opener of the trip Sunday, when it escaped Madison Square Garden with a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers despite being decidedly outplayed and outshot.
"It's the way that we've won that has been impressive," forward Jeff Halpern, who gave Dallas a 2-1 lead in the third period Monday, told the team's official Web site. "And tonight, the first period wasn't a good one for us and Marty (Turco) kept us in the game and gave us a chance to win, but I think the way we've been able to get out of our own end and control pucks in the other teams' ends have been, even if we weren't winning these games, it's stuff that you know you can build on.
"We're proud of the winning streak but more proud of the way we've been playing."
Dallas has been winning even though Turco, the team's longtime No. 1 goaltender, has lost his grasp on the top job. Second-year player Mike Smith has taken over and won four in a row, allowing just four goals in that span.
Turco stopped 23 shots Monday in just his second start in six games. It was his second straight win following an 0-1-2 stretch in which he allowed 14 goals, but Smith is likely to return to the net Wednesday after a 39-save performance in the victory over the Rangers.
"(The wins) are kind of ugly, they're sloppy, but the goalies are giving us the opportunity to get it back," Stars captain Brenden Morrow said.
Smith has never faced the Devils.
Like Dallas, New Jersey has also found its game, winning four in a row - all on a road trip - since a sputtering start. The Devils (11-10-2) have been off since Saturday, when they defeated Tampa Bay 3-2.
Brian Gionta scored twice during a three-goal second period and Martin Brodeur made 34 saves for New Jersey. Brodeur started each game on the trip and allowed just five goals.
"He played unbelievable this whole road trip," Devils defenseman Colin White said of Brodeur. "Save after save. They had a lot of chances, good quality chances."
The Devils were outshot 14-1 in the third period Saturday, but Brodeur allowed only one goal. He also benefited from a video review with 4:49 left that showed a puck that trickled through his pads didn't cross the goal-line.
Brodeur is 8-8-0 with a 2.07 goals-against average against the Stars.
Dallas was 0-for-5 on the power play Monday, but converted 10 of 21 chances the previous seven games.