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Stars grab positive vibe entering holiday break

by Staff Writer / Dallas Stars

December 23, 2003

By J. Douglas Foster

Some might think the timing isn't great for the holiday break, not with the roll the Stars have gotten on of late to get back into the playoff hunt.

Stars captain Mike Modano would disagree.

"There's never a bad time for rest," Modano said. "The time off does your mind and body good."

Right wing Bill Guerin would agree.

"Under normal circumstances (they might not want a break)," Guerin said. "But it's Christmas. You've got to have a couple of days off. It's nice that we won that game (Monday in Carolina). That makes it a lot better."

That it does, because the Stars can now go into their break thinking more positive thoughts, focusing their minds on what has gone right in the last six games as they have gone 4-1-1.

One thing that has really gone right in the stretch is the play of goaltender Marty Turco, who has been dominant for more than the six-game stretch.

Sure, he has allowed one goal or fewer in each of those six games, totaling just five allowed during the span. But during the last 15 games, Turco has given up two goals or fewer 13 times.

"Marty is too good and too strong mentally not to come back," Guerin said. "Even when we were losing, it probably wasn't Marty's fault. We just weren't scoring. He's been playing great for six weeks now. If we could just find the net more it would make things a lot better for us."

Another plus of the break is that the Stars will move closer to being completely healthy with the few days off. By then, young forward Steve Ott said, he expects to be back in the lineup from the strained back that has kept him out a week. Veteran goaltender Ron Tugnutt also said he expects to return from his knee injury potentially by the weekend.

Stars head coach Dave Tippett called both players day-to-day and said they "could be players" Friday against Nashville.

The best sign in recent games has been the emergence of the line of Modano, Jere Lehtinen and Brenden Morrow, easily the best line in each of the last two contests.

Combine that with the pairing of Guerin, Jason Arnott and Pierre Turgeon, and Dallas has had two dominant lines in the last week or so.

"Right now, the team is in a bit of a rhythm that way," Tippett said. "We've been searching for that rhythm all year."

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