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Next Up for Turco: Win at The Joe

by Ken Sins / Dallas Stars

Marty Turco placed an X in one box on his personal checklist when he was the No. 1 star in Wednesday night’s 3-1 victory over the Red Wings, Turco’s first playoff win over Detroit.

Turco can exorcize another demon on Saturday afternoon in Game 5 by registering his first victory over the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.

Dallas avoided a four-game sweep in these Western Conference finals behind Turco’s 33-save performance. Now he must address his 0-9-2 career record in Detroit. So could there be a better time to end that Motown dry spell?

“Overdue is a good thing,’’ Stars coach Dave Tippett said on Friday morning before the team boarded its charter flight to Detroit. “When there's no tomorrow, it's a good day to get the bugaboo off.’’

In the first three games of the series, Turco allowed 11 goals with a 3.69 goals-against average, yielding five goals on 21 shots in Game 3.

Getting beat only once in 34 shots of Game 4 represents progress for Turco.

“The good thing about sports is you always have a chance to redeem yourself. Now he has one in Detroit,’’ Stars center Mike Modano said. “That's been his demon the last little while and he has another opportunity to erase that.''

Having a playoff win over the Wings on his resume can stoke Turco’s confidence. He’s not quite ready to shave off that playoff beard.

"You can take some out of it,’’ Turco said. “But we always knew if we played the way we can, we would be able to beat them. On the first couple games, a couple saves, a goal, a bounce the other way and it could have been a different game.''

Asked about winning at The Joe, Turco said, “I don't think it's that tough. It's no different. But it's always a big test. This is huge. They don't want to bring it back here for a Game 6, obviously, and we don't want to die. I don't want to shave. We don't want to do anything except keep playing hockey.

“We've got to be who we are, what we do to be successful, and we probably weren't like that the first few games.  The last game, we were desperate, which is what happens when your backs are against the wall, your true colors come out. The next game is always your toughest. It'll be desperation to the max on both sides of the puck. Every game we win, it swings the momentum in our favor and makes them more desperate and squeeze a little tighter.’’

Turco’s had plenty of company on the Dallas bench when it comes to stumbling in Detroit.

“Could he have played better in some of those games? Sure he could,’’ Tippett said. “But there are a lot of players who could have been better. We haven't got the job done there so we're overdue.’’

Playing well on Wednesday night boosts the confidence of everyone connected with the team.

“I think the biggest thing is that the other day we proved that we belong in this series and deserve to be playing these guys in the conference final,’’ Stars forward Steve Ott said. “Before that, maybe not so. We didn't play the hockey we needed to play in the first three games. But we showed the character of our team and proved to Marty himself that he can beat anybody. If he comes in and has a big game and we play well and we come out with a win, then all the naysayers will be on his side in a hurry.’’

In Game 4, Turco’s teammates did a better job of keeping the front of the net cleared of crease-crasher Tomas Holmstrom. The Wings had a goal disallowed on Wednesday night when the referees ruled that Holmstrom’s rear end was in the blue painted area, interfering with Turco’s ability to stop the puck.

Not surprisingly, Detroit coach Mike Babcock disagreed, although Stars fans felt the call only evened things up after a goal by the Wings was allowed to stand in Game 1 even though Holmstrom made contact with Turco and was in the blue area.

“It's been an ongoing thing,’’ Tippett said. “We talked a lot about the non-call in Game 1 that cost us and they talked about the one that got called back in Game 4. It's a hard thing for the referees. Holmstrom's in there awful tight. The thing we look at is the goalie has to have a chance to do his job and that hasn't changed. Referees are trying to watch it awful close. Every time there's an incident with it, it gets highlighted. When it becomes a focal point, it's watched a lot closer. It's hard, but call what's right.’’

The Stars will again be without forward Stu Barnes (headaches), right wing Jere Lehtinen (leg), and defensemen Philippe Boucher (shoulder) and Mark Fistric (mono).

Detroit remains without right wing Johan Franzen, still the team’s top playoff goal-scorer with 12 despite missing the last three games due to concussion-like symptoms.

The Wings are 7-0 at home in these playoffs. They’re talented, poised and confident, especially in Motown.

“You play them anywhere they're going to be a great team that's hard to play against,’’ Modano said. “They seem to have a real comfort zone (at home) right now. They're a skating, skill, hard-working team.

“But a win brings it back home to a Monday night game that would be a lot of fun to play in, with a lot of great energy. If we can drag this on any longer, that’ll be a good thing.’’

The odds are still stacked against the Stars. NHL teams have been able to rally from three games to none deficits in best-of-7 series only twice in 153 attempts. The last team to pull off that trick was the 1975 New York Islanders, who bounced back to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Stars captain Brenden Morrow’s been playing out these back-to-the-wall games in his head since he was a kid.

"When you're playing road hockey growing up, it's always Game 7 and we have that mentality right now where if we lose one game, we're done,’’ Morrow said. “So it's fun, an exciting time. We've got big challenges ahead of us.’’

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