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Turco, Stars snap Capitals' home streak

by Brian Hunter
Marty Turco's career night brought an end to the Washington Capitals' record-setting home winning streak.

Turco made a career-high 49 saves and stopped four of five shootout attempts as the Dallas Stars snapped a three-game losing streak coming out of the Olympic break with a 4-3 win at the Verizon Center on Monday night.

Loui Eriksson beat Semyon Varlamov in the fifth round of the penalty-shot tiebreaker to cap a wild finish that saw the Stars rally with three goals in the third period before the Capitals forced overtime on Alex Ovechkin's second of the game with 3:16 remaining.

"It's not going to be every night that your goalie's going to wear a mask and steal a game for you," Dallas coach Marc Crawford said. "We needed a great goaltending performance tonight, and Marty was absolutely terrific. We love the fact that he fought and fought and fought and fought -- and got a payoff."

Ovechkin, who entered the game mired in a season-high, six-game goal drought dating back to Feb. 7, tied Sidney Crosby for the League lead with his 44th of the season. He used a nifty move to fake out Dallas defenseman Stephane Robidas before ripping the puck past Turco and whipping the Washington fans into a frenzy.

But Turco stood his ground over the final minutes of regulation and the five-minute overtime, in which the Capitals took the only three shots. He denied Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Brooks Laich and Brendan Morrison in the shootout. Nicklas Backstrom beat him in the second round, but Brad Richards promptly answered for the Stars.

When Eriksson got Varlamov moving toward the right post and then reached back to slip a forehand shot inside the left post, Dallas had handed Washington its first loss at the Verizon Center since Dec. 28 against Carolina. In fact, the Capitals have only lost seven times (25-3-4) on home ice this season.

"When you come into a team with that much confidence, and that good in this building, I don't mind saying that (Turco) has to be our best player probably on those nights," Richards said. "We don't have the talent to match up with them, line-for-line and player-for-player. Some nights, it should be called 'goalie' not 'hockey.'"

Tom Poti opened the scoring in the first period and Ovechkin got himself on the board in the second as the Capitals looked to be in control with a 2-0 lead heading into the third. A couple of minor penalties changed the course of the game, however.

Mike Green went off for hooking at the 1:02 mark and Richards needed just 31 seconds to break up Varlamov's shutout bid and get the Stars back in the game. They capitalized again after Matt Bradley was penalized for holding, with Trevor Daley scoring at 4:46 for the game-tying goal.

James Neal further silenced the fans when he scored the Stars' third unanswered goal of the period at 7:53 to put them ahead for the first time. It was Neal's 25th goal of the season.

The relief for Ovechkin was evident on his first goal, a power-play tally with 5:23 left in the second. He celebrated by raising his stick, then throwing his head back and pumping both fists.

"He was frustrated the last few games. I told him this morning, 'You've got to work harder,'" Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. "You saw it in the first two or three shifts in the game -- he was trying to hit guys. He had his energy back. When he has his energy, well, he is what he is: the best player in the world."

That the Stars trailed by only two goals heading to third was a complete testament to Turco, who stopped 40 shots over the first 40 minutes.

"I don't care if I see one shot. It was all about the win," Turco said. "We can use it to know we cannot only play with anybody, but win."

Material from wire services was used in this report. 

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