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Stars 'home' in on execution

by Dan Rosen

Dallas Stars captain Brenden Morrow is currently on a four-game point scoring streak. Morrow highlights
The Dallas Stars are frustrated, that much is obvious. They're down 0-2 in the Western Conference Finals with the puck scheduled to drop in Game 3 tonight at 8 p.m. ET (VERSUS, TSN, RDS, NHL Radio).

Still, it's not as if coach Dave Tippett, captain Brenden Morrow and the rest of the Stars are spinning their wheels trying to figure out how to beat the Detroit Red Wings. They think they know how, and it's all about execution.

"I thought we took a step forward in getting ourselves back into the competitive issues of the series last game, but it will still have to go up another step," Tippett said. "I thought we had much better jump. Our legs looked like they were back to normal. Now we need some more execution.

"We had some good opportunities," he continued. "We didn't capitalize on them. We talked about this is a fine line we're walking here. For us to win, we've got to have a lot of things go right for us, and some of those opportunities that we get we got to find a way to capitalize on."

The first thing the Stars must to do tonight is send more pucks at Detroit goalie Chris Osgood, who steered aside 37 of the 39 shots he faced in the first two games. Detroit is allowing only 24 shots per game in the playoffs, so while getting more pucks on Osgood is necessary, it definitely won't be easy.

"We need just a little more execution, a little more getting hungry around their net," Mike Modano said. "You don't get too many opportunities against them, so when you do get opportunities, you just have to try to bear down and make the most of them."

Having the home-ice advantage should help Dallas' cause, at least slightly. For the next two games they get the final line change and the chance to put their stick down last on faceoffs.

Having the final change will enable Tippett to control his matchups, which could mean getting Mike Ribeiro and Morrow away from Selke Trophy finalists Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, a matchup the Wings dominated in Games 1 and 2.

Being able to put their stick down last on faceoffs could bump up the Stars paltry 33.3 percent success rate on draws so far in this series. They won just 21 of the 56 faceoffs (38 percent) in Game 1, and only 16 of the 39 draws (29 percent) in Game 2.

"They become factors," Tippett said. "The faceoff issue is something that we're talking a lot about because we have to get better. It's not just the guys in the faceoff (circle). It's the compete levels around those guys."

Modano said Detroit's wings make it difficult because of how good they are at collapsing the circle and winning the 50-50 battles that ensue after a faceoff.

"That's usually a big key to any team's success to generate offense or get it out of your zone defensively," Modano said. "It's a key area we're going to try to get better at."

"We've got to be on the same page and win those team battles," added center Brad Richards. "It will help coming in second to the faceoff. That's always an advantage."

Another advantage is goalie Marty Turco won't have to fight the demons of Joe Louis Arena for at least the next couple of games. Turco is 0-9-2 in his 12 career starts at the Joe, but this season is 21-13-2 at the American Airlines Center. He was 20-11-2 at home last season.

"We've had some exciting times at home, just look at our most recent game," Turco said, referencing Dallas' four-overtime thrilling win against San Jose on May 4 that clinched its berth in the Conference Finals. "Our fans sticking around to the wee hours; it was a lot of fun. We're expecting more grand times for our fans and for us. We need it, simple as that, to get back into the series."

One thing the Stars are certain of is, at least from Detroit's perspective, the feuding that ensued at the end of Game 2 – when Osgood butt-ended Ribeiro, who responded with a slash to the goalie's chest – will not carry over into Game 3.

So, the last thing the Stars want to do is bate the Wings into a brawling type of game.

"That's probably the most you're going to see of it (Saturday night)," Modano said. "Obviously it was frustration boiling over and not being able to control your own emotions. For us to try to get into some street fight ain't going to work.

"You have to play the game of hockey. Right now they're doing it better than us."

Briefs -- Stu Barnes (concussion) has been ruled out for tonight by Tippett. Barnes hasn't played since Game 3 against San Jose, which was April 29. … Dallas still isn't sure about the status of wing Jere Lehtinen, who sustained a leg injury in Game 2 and was listed as "day to day." The feisty and hard checking veteran Finn will likely be a game time decision, so stay tuned. … Don't expect to see Detroit wing Johan Franzen. The NHL's leading postseason goal scorer is still battling concussion-like symptoms. … Stars captain Brenden Morrow had an exciting off day. His wife, Anne-Marie, gave birth to twins Brady and Mallory just before 2 p.m. Dallas time Sunday. The Stars reported that both mom and the twins were doing fine.

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