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Tkachuk, Modano keep racking up points

by Brian Hunter
A few thoughts as we offer congratulations to two NHL greats in Keith Tkachuk and Mike Modano:

Milestone, part I
-- Keith Tkachuk  already wasa 500-goal scorer. On Sunday afternoon, the St. Louis Blues veteran added to his credentials by netting the 1,000th point of his NHL career. True to form, he accomplished the feat by putting the puck in the net.

Tkachuk scored goal No. 511 in the second period against the Atlanta Thrashers by knocking in the rebound of a Carlo Colaiacovo shot with the Blues on a power play at 15:03 of the second period. The Thrashers are one of Tkachuk's former teams in a career that started with the Winnipeg Jets and also featured time with Phoenix.

"It was exciting to celebrate and have the guys come out on the ice," said Tkachuk. "Just the way the guys reacted was pretty cool. I was in the right place at the right time."

He reached the illustrious mark in his 1,077th game, and what made it even better for Tkachuk is that the Blues earned two points. His goal tied the game and St. Louis added a pair in the third period to escape Philips Arena with a 4-2 victory. It snapped a two-game losing streak for the Blues. Afterward, Tkachuk was philosophical about what getting to 1,000 points meant.

"I've played a long time, and this just means I'm just getting older," the 36-year-old said. "I appreciate the game more as I get older. I've been fortunate."

Milestone, part II -- There hasn't been a lot for the Dallas Stars to smile about so far this season, but the top-scoring American-born player in the history of the League put a big grin on the face of just about everyone at American Airlines Center on Sunday -- the Edmonton Oilers being about the only exception.

Modano recorded the 537th goal and 1,300th point of his 19-year NHL career and won a game in the process, as his power-play tally with 2:21 remaining lifted Dallas to a 4-3 victory. It also earned Modano a wealth of accolades from his teammates.

"That was a great shot there, especially on a milestone goal that was so meaningful for our group," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "You don't get 1,300 points without being a great player, and that was a great goal."

With the Stars working hard to climb out of the basement in the Pacific Division and Western Conference, goaltender Marty Turco said Modano still is one of the players the team looks to for inspiration and solid play.

"When you think about all he's done, the milestones and the ceremonies, and one more creeps up on him," Turco said. "At this juncture of the season we need him more than anyone."

Overly accommodating hosts -- It appears the New York Rangers have been rolling out the red carpet at Madison Square Garden lately for their opponents, largely at the expense of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

The Florida Panthers visited the Big Apple on Sunday afternoon and handed the Rangers a 4-0 loss. A three-goal second period by the Panthers featured goals 12 seconds apart by Stephen Weiss and Gregory Campbell, at which point Rangers coach Tom Renney gave his starter the hook.

"Henrik was playing well. That wasn't the issue at all," Renney said. "I'm not sure about the skaters."

Whatever the issue, it's not the first time in recent memory this has happened. Just two home games earlier, Vancouver got to Lundqvist for five goals on just 17 shots before Renney went to backup Steve Valiquette.

"Obviously I want to play," Lundqvist said. "A couple of quick plays and it was 3-0. I felt they outworked us in the second period and it paid off."

Power play turns tide
-- The goaltending of Jonas Hiller was a big reason the Anaheim Ducks came out of RBC Center with a 4-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday. Hiller made 36 saves in improving to 5-0-0 with a 1.35 goals-against average and .957 save percentage over his last six starts.

But the Ducks also continued a run of penalty-killing excellence by thwarting the Hurricanes on four man-advantage opportunities. Anaheim has not been scored upon in its last 18 shorthanded situations. On the other side, Carolina has failed to score on its last 25 power-play opportunities.

"Our power play, there's nothing in sync with it, there's nothing good about it right now," Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette said.

The opposite could be said about Hiller, who got back-to-back starts while Jean-Sebastien Giguere attended to a personal matter. The Swiss goalie blanked Chicago 1-0 on Friday and came right back with an equally impressive outing against Carolina, with 17 saves in the second period alone.

"He stood on his head in the second period and made some huge saves and kept us in the game," said Rob Niedermayer, who scored twice. "They really took the play to us there. He is a big reason we were in the game."

Material from wire services was used in this report.

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