Brenden Morrow isn't a loudmouth and he doesn't exaggerate. One reason Morrow was given the captain's "C" by the Stars this season is because he knows when to speak his mind, when to deliver a pointed message.So when Morrow says goaltender Marty Turco should be angry with his teammates for their lack of support in the first three games of the Western Conference first-round playoff series against the Vancouver Canucks, people listen.
Turco, who had lost his last three playoff series, has been outstanding so far with a 1.58 goals-against and .945 save percentage.
He's been so steady that at times it seems his teammates seem to be sitting back, figuring Turco will do what it takes to protect a slender lead. But Turco's counterpart, Roberto Luongo, has been equally stingy and the Stars find themselves down two games to one entering Game 4 Tuesday night at 7 at the AAC.
The Stars tried to nurse a 1-0 advantage after two periods on Sunday night and it backfired, with the Canucks getting even in the third period and then winning at 12:13 of overtime on Taylor Pyatt's knuckling shot from the high slot.
"They're both great goalies but Marty has given us a chance to win," Morrow said after Monday afternoon's practice in Frisco. "You're not going to shut a team out four times and win that way. Marty basically has two shutouts in the series if you count the three periods of the overtime (in the opener). If I was him, I'd be mad at our team right now. We've got to give him a chance to win and we're not getting it done. It's on all our shoulders. Some of us have got to step up and find a way to get that winner."
Going into a shell with a one-goal edge is a recipe for disaster. The entire team must be more pro-active if the Stars hope to come back and take their first playoff series since 2003. Dallas must forget five straight home playoff defeats, losses in eight of their last nine playoff games that have gone to overtime, and focus on winning Game 4.
"One goal isn't anything right now&You can't sit and wait and hope that lead holds up," Morrow said. "You've got to extend it, have that killer instinct, go get that next goal, find a way. We don't have that killer instinct where you have a team down, you get a power play and we don't capitalize."
Checkers Stu Barnes, Jeff Halpern and Joel Lundqvist have been Dallas' only goal-scorers in the last two games.
Stars coach Dave Tippett stressed after Sunday night's overtime loss that his team must get more production out of their top-end scorers. That list is headed by Mike Modano, Morrow, Jere Lehtinen, Mike Ribeiro, Niklas Hagman and Jussi Jokinen, all double-digit goal-scorers in the regular season. Getting the same offensive punch that they received in the regular season from defensemen Philippe Boucher and Sergei Zubov would also provide a lift. Dallas needs more of the Modano who notched 11 goals over the last 19 games of the regular season. Modano has only one assist in the three playoff games.
Of Modano, Tippett said, "I thought the first couple games he was better than (Game 3). The first couple of games he was around the puck more. For whatever reason, he wasn't around it as much as we needed him to be (in Game 3). That's something he knows about and we know about. He can have a bigger effect on the game."
Modano isn't making excuses. But he thrives in open ice, and that is at premium against the tight-checking Canucks.
"It's one of those series where there's not much given up," Modano said. "There's not much space, not much room to move. Everybody's back, their forwards are back in the slot so it's a 3-on-5 down there. Your numbers aren't with you there. It's a real conservative approach on both sides.
"You've got to hang in there and get second and third opportunities. You've got to generate offense any way you can."
Modano didn't take it personally when Tippett called out the team's top scorers after Game 3.
"It comes with the territory," Modano said. "You have to play better in the playoffs. People look at points and goals and those sort of things&Chances are slim and none out there. There's not many and not much. So you try to make the most of what you get."
The Stars are also looking for the kind of production from Lehtinen that produced 16 goals in a 27-game stretch from Dec. 23 to Feb. 27. Lehtinen is also without a goal. Morrow, who bagged a goal in the opener, scored six in the last 12 games of an injury-curtailed season that left him with an impressive 16 goals and 15 assists in 40 games.
Morrow isn't just pointing fingers at others.
"Mo, myself, Jere, we all have to do more," Morrow said. "You've got to bear down and when there is a mistake, you've got to capitalized on it. So far we haven't done that often enough. You're looking for a hero, hoping someone else is going to be that guy instead of looking at yourself, going out and getting it done. I could see why Marty could be a little frustrated with us right now. I think I would be.
"I think Marty believes in us and we believe in him. That's never swayed in this locker room. But I'm sure sitting back there, shutting things down, it would get frustrating for him." All season the Stars have handled adverse situations. They lost Morrow, Modano, Steve Ott, Eric Lindros and Matthew Barnaby for long stretches and still managed to finish with their third 50-win season since 1998-88, tying the Detroit Red Wings for the NHL's most in that span. They rallied to win 10 times when trailing after two periods, with a league-best six of those coming when they were down by two goals or more, the most in franchise history.
Now here comes another situation to test that resolve.
"We've got a lot of more-than-capable guys, guys who people expect more out of," Turco said. "The hard work is there. We're getting chances. Eventually they're going to come through. We need everybody to get the series tied up and get the W."
"We've got to get up off the mat," said Tippett, who hinted that a few line changes could be in the offing. "We gained momentum in Game 2 and they gained it back in Game 3. We've got to go into Game 4 with the mindset that we've got to grab it back again. It's a tight series. Both teams are playing strong. You've got to find the little things that give you a chance to win and make those happen."