One night after ripping his team for its performance at Colorado, Dallas coach Dave Tippett
couldn't have found anything to complain about.
Tom Renney, his counterpart with the New York Rangers, had more than enough.
The Stars rolled to their biggest offensive night since the franchise moved from Minnesota to Dallas in 1993 by pummeling the Rangers 10-2 on Friday. James Neal had two of the Stars' six third-period goals -- the most scored by any team in a period this season -- and two of their four power-play goals against the NHL's best penalty-killing unit.
The Stars earned Tippett's ire for their performance in a 3-2 loss to the Avs on Thursday. This was about as big a turnaround as you could imagine -- the franchise hadn't hit double figures since a 10-3 win over San Jose on Nov. 28, 1992.
"We didn't show up last night," said center Mike Ribeiro, who scored twice and set up two other goals. "It's good to see when you have a bad game that you can bounce back. Everybody chipped in and it was a team effort. It's good for everyone's confidence."
The win moved the Stars into a tie for fifth in the West with Anaheim -- though only nine points separate fifth and 15th place. Dallas is 9-3-2 in its last 14 games and has moved up steadily after a slow start.
"If we're going to be a playoff team, every game is of the utmost important," Tippett said. "You could tell last night, the game we lost last night, our players were mad. Today we needed a better effort, and we got it."
The Rangers are headed the other way. New York lost its fourth in a row and has dropped to fifth in the East. The Rangers, who were skated hard by Renney at practice after Tuesday's 2-1 home shootout loss to Atlanta, have two days of practice before Monday's visit to New Jersey -- and plenty of mistakes to work on.
"It was just awful," captain Chris Drury said of his team's effort after the Rangers allowed 10 goals for the first time since April 9, 1993. "There's no way to sugar-coat it. It was embarrassing.
"We turned it over. If we continue to do it, especially Monday, there will be more nights like this one."
The Rangers have struggled to score, but offense wasn't the problem this time.
"This is a big loss, there's no question about that," Renney said. "But you know what, 3-2 or 10-2, a loss is a loss. The one thing we can't do is hide behind a low-scoring game. This time around, we got pounded."
The night actually started well for the Rangers, who scored 3:35 into the game when Nikolai Zherdev scored on a wraparound that Marty Turco probably should have stopped. But Brian Sutherby tied it at 4:10 by swatting the puck off the stick of Scott Gomez and past Steve Valiquette after Gomez tried to carry the puck in front of the net.
Ribeiro's power-play goal at 14:24 put Dallas ahead to stay, and Brad Richards' pass for Loui Eriksson on a 2-on-1 break after a turnover went off defenseman Eric Reitz' skate and into the net at 18:58.
Zherdev got a power-play goal 3:05 into the second period. But the Rangers were unable to capitalize on a long two-man advantage and Dallas regained its two-goal lead when Steve Ott freed up the puck in the Rangers' zone, Mike Ribeiro picked it up and beat Valiquette with a high, quick shot from the lower right circle.
"The fourth goal for us, I thought, was a huge goal," Tippett said. "Ott goes in on a good forecheck and turns the puck over, and Ribeiro scores."
Ribeiro set up Jere Lehtinen's quick wrist shot past Valiquette at 4:15 of the third period before the roof fell in on the Rangers. Neal had two of Dallas' five goals in a 6:20 span as the Stars wound up scoring six times on nine shots in the final 20 minutes.
"It was really unexpected," Tippett said of the third-period outburst. "I thought their kid played really well for the first two periods. We finally found a way to get a few past him.
"I liked the way our guys were committed to playing the full 60 minutes."
For the Rangers, it's back to basics before meeting the Devils on Monday.
"We have to get back to square one," Renney said, "back to the fundamentals of playing hockey. We have to understand the price we have to pay and the sacrifices we need to make to be a winner."
Penguins 4, Blue Jackets 1 | Video
With Detroit coming to town Sunday for its first visit since winning the Stanley Cup at Mellon Arena last June, this would have been an easy game for the Penguins to overlook. They didn't -- thanks to two goals by defenseman Kris Letang and a 33-save performance by goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
Letang scored twice in less than 10 minutes during Pittsburgh's three-goal second period as the Penguins followed up their emotional 4-3 overtime win over Tampa Bay on Wednesday with a solid effort that moved them into a tie with Carolina, one point in back of eighth-place Florida in the East.
It's only the second time since mid-November that the Penguins have won consecutive games.
"We were trying to build on the last game, we had a great comeback and it was really good for the whole team," Letang said. "I think our problem before was we really didn't work together, one night only one line showed up and the next night another line showed up. It was a problem."
The 21-year-old defenseman opened the scoring 5:33 into the second period, beating Wade Dubielewicz with a shot from along the goal line. After Petr Sykora made it 2-0 at 8:35, Letang connected again at 15:08, beating Dubielewicz from the left faceoff dot after a no-look drop pass by Sidney Crosby.
"It's just tough when you're on the road and you give up that first goal like that, it takes the wind out of the guys, especially when we're playing pretty well," Dubielewicz said. "It's pretty disappointing."
Fedor Tyutin's power-play goal at 9:44 of the third period broke up Fleury's shutout, but Crosby hit the empty net with 33 seconds remaining.
"It's a playoff mentality right now, we have to move on to the next one," Crosby said.
The loss kept Columbus at 53 points, two out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference scramble. Dubielewicz started for the first time since joining the team as the Jackets gave Steve Mason a rest after 19 consecutive starts. He's battling a case on mononucleosis.
"We got down a goal and we were trying to force pucks to the middle and trying to get it all back in one play instead of just playing the game, playing our system and working from there," center Michael Peca said.
Detroit comes to Mellon Arena for a nationally televised game Sunday afternoon.
"For us, it's not about Detroit -- it’s going to be about us," Therrien said. "We're in a position where we're fighting for our life. But it's going to be a little extra-special, like it was when we were there earlier in the season."
Devils 5, Thrashers 1 | Video
New Jersey followed up a stinker at home against Washington three nights earlier by scoring three times in the first 12 minutes and breezing to victory at Atlanta.
Goals by Travis Zajac, John Madden and David Clarkson in the first 11:42 made it an easy night for Kevin Weekes, who made 31 saves and was beaten only by Colby Armstrong's quick wrist shot 2:05 into the second period.
"It's always nice to have that cushion," Weekes said.
That made it 3-1, but Zach Parise scored a power-play goal at 3:49 and Brian Gionta scored a shorthanded goal right off a faceoff at 8:08 to remove any suspense about the outcome.
"We came in with the mindset that we wanted to regroup and get back into our winning ways, and we did," coach Brent Sutter said after the Devils won their seventh in a row on the road and their fourth consecutive visit to Philips Arena.
Madden's goal also came shorthanded, as the Devils killed off all seven Atlanta power plays and scored twice while down a man.
"When you go minus-2 on your power play, it's not a good sign," Thrashers coach John Anderson said.
Weekes did his best work in the third period, stopping all 18 shots he faced.
"The third period we kind of sat on it a little bit," Sutter said. "Weekes had a good third period and was solid the whole game."
The win also avenged what might have been the Devils' worst defeat of the season, a 4-0 home loss to the Thrashers on Jan. 8.
"This was big," Clarkson said. "These guys beat us the last time we played them.
"We gave everything we had right away."
Predators 2, Wild 0 | Video
Maybe a few games off were just what Dan Ellis needed. Ellis, who's been supplanted as Nashville's No. 1 goaltender, stopped all 22 shots he faced after sitting for six games as the Predators won their fourth in a row -- their longest winning streak in two years.
Jason Arnott and David Legwand scored to help the Predators win for the fifth time in six games since the All-Star break.
"You play the sport to play in games, and not just be a practice target," Ellis said after winning in his first start since being pulled on Jan. 17. "You always hope for opportunities to play again and when you get those opportunities you need to go out there, play your best and give them a reason to keep you in the net."
He said he went onto the ice feeling like he had nothing to lose.
"I'd already lost my spot, so what else do you got," Ellis said. "I figured I'd just go out there and enjoy it. I hadn't played a full game in a long time, and that's what you really enjoy. My goal tonight was to have fun, relax and not worry about the outcome."
Ellis, 0-4 with a 4.54 goals-against average and an .837 save percentage in his previous five starts, was fortunate early. Mikko Koivu just missed the net from in front, and Marek Zidlicky tipped a cross-ice pass wide, both in the opening minute. Ellis rebounded from a collision with Shea Weber to scramble back and stop James Sheppard less than 5 minutes later.
But the Wild went shotless in the second half of the first period and forced Ellis to make just five saves in the second period.
"Lets face it, we had four scoring chances," Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said. "How's that for a game? If anybody feels that we played good, we worked, but if they say we played well, we can't play good with four chances."
Ellis' best save was sliding across the crease to stop Cal Clutterbuck on a 2-on-1 with 4:25 to play.
Arnott broke the scoreless tie at 12:15 of the second period with a one-timer from the slot past Niklas Backstrom. Legwand scored 1:02 into the third when his wrist shot went off Backstrom's glove and trickled into the net.
"That's a shot I need to have," Backstrom said. "I need to be there for the team."
Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report.