Heading into Saturday’s Game 5 at Joe Louis Arena, Turco, who played college hockey at Michigan, had an 11-game pro winless streak. Though he and his Stars’ teammates have tried to discount his poor JLA record, Turco’s reputation – if not his previous 0-9-2 record -- has preceded him.
The curse can now be buried along side famous baseball jinxes like Chicago’s Billy Goat and Boston’s curse of the Bambino.
Asked how it felt to get his first pro win in Detroit, Turco grinned, and said, “Great question. It feels good … about the situation we’re in, the environment we’re in, and the ability we had to overcome it.”
Turco made 38 saves and jumpstarted both Stars’ goals in a crucial 2-1 do-or-die win that sends the best-of-seven Western Conference finals back to Dallas for Game 6 on Monday.
“There’s been a lot documented about his struggles up here,” Dallas coach Dave Tippett said. “I don’t look at it as his struggles. I look at it as our team struggles up here. But for our team to be successful he has to be very good. And that’s what you saw from him tonight.”
Turco now holds a 4-12-5 lifetime record against the Red Wings.
The 32-year-old native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario looked relieved at his post-game press conference, joking around with captain Brenden Morrow.
Tippett said that Turco’s determination led to the Stars’win.
“There was so much battle in him,” Tippett said. “Our team … one of our themes all year has (been) find a way to win, and have the will to win. And I think Marty exemplified that tonight. He wasn’t going to be denied in this game.”
Turco looked sharp in the early moments, the opposite of his composure in the first two games of the series at JLA. Dan Cleary was the first to test him, firing a one-timer that forced Turco to slide across the crease and make a big save. Turco also nearly set up a goal in the opening part of the first, firing a pass all the way to the red line for Niklas Hagman, who made Detroit goalie Chris Osgood work for an early save.
“I felt pretty comfortable from the beginning, from warm-ups to this morning getting up,” Turco said. “It’s probably the best I’ve felt in this building, probably ever. It’s supposed to be like that, your next game is always supposed to be your best.”
The Stars’ first goal, scored by Trevor Daley, all started with Turco’s ability to speed up the breakout. The agile goaltender beat the Red Wings’ forecheckers to the puck and fired a pass to Hagman. Brad Richards then gained access to the Red Wings’ zone before flicking a between-the-legs pass to Daley, who fired a shot into the back of the net.
“When he’s jumping out of the net, making plays like that, you know he’s involved, you know he’s in to it mentally,” Mike Modano said. “His focus was really good tonight. He made some real good outlets, just getting away from pressure and that’s really been a big plus for us since he’s been a goaltender for our team. He does have the ability to really neutralize a team’s forecheck with the ability to get out of the net.”
Turco did the same for the second goal, once again fielding a dump-in and sending it back the other way before the Red Wings could regroup. This time, Turco caught a lucky break, having his shot ricochet off Darren McCarty’s stick right to Joel Lundqvist, who lugged the puck all the way up the ice and beat Osgood for the game-winning goal. The quick breakout pass caught veteran defenseman Chris Chelios trying to make a line-change, resulting in an odd-man rush and a Dallas goal. Turco recorded the lone assist on the goal.
”You have to be smarter about it,” Lidstrom said. “Turco's so good at playing the puck that you have to have a guy sitting back a little bit, taking care of that.”
Turco also won Round Five of his battle with Tomas Holmstrom
, who has set up camp in front of the Dallas goal all series. Turco robbed Holmstrom on an in-close chance in the second period, and directly after the play Holmstrom took a cross-checking penalty.
Lidstrom said that its time to work on more traffic in front of the Stars’ net.
“He's seeing a lot of shots,” Lidstrom said. “That's one of the differences. That makes it a lot easier for him when he's seeing the shots instead of being there for screens. He's got to find that rebound, too.”
Turco said that the most important part of the win is the fact that it keeps his team alive in the playoffs.
“It’s a huge challenge, that only fractionally got better tonight, the way we’re looking at it,” Turco said. “But if we’re able to do this, we needed at least one here, and now we’re going to need at least two, for me it has been a long time but something I never thought that wouldn’t happen in my career. We’re excited to go back home and continue to push this thing along.”