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Stars Look To Pull Even in Game Two

by Dallas Stars Staff / Dallas Stars

DETROIT -- The Stars’ demeanor at practice on Friday at Joe Louis Arena was positive. Despite being outplayed in Game One of the Western Conference Finals vs. Detroit, the team knows it can play better. The team is confident that Game Two will bring a much different level of effort by the Stars.

“We’re very confident and we know we can play a lot better,” said Marty Turco. “The beginning of the game (in Game One) certainly didn’t help but it’s more of the way we played and some of the penalties that we took. There are adjustments we can make and we know that this series has a long way to go.”

This is the first time that Dallas has trailed in a series during the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs. It’s a different position than the Anaheim or the San Jose series in which the Stars won both games on the road to start it off.

For now, all the team is focusing on is Game Two and a chance to get even in the series before it shifts to Dallas.

“We would have loved to be up right now with the opportunity to go up, 2-0, but we’re not,” said Brad Richards. “It’s a good team we’re playing and we’re in the Conference Finals. We’re starting on the road and this is where we have to face a little adversity and see what we can come up with in the second game. It’s still an opportunity to get a split. No matter what happens, this is a series. We still have games at home to play. We’re very early here. They’re up, 1-0, and we just have to worry about ourselves and get ourselves back to the way were playing against San Jose.”

The first improvement that many of the players pointed to as a key to playing better against Detroit is skating. The team admitted that they were watching the Wings too much and were caught flat-footed too many times and that led to bad things.

“When you’re skating, a lot of things come well – our chances to score go up, our shots go up, being physical, arriving on hits and causing turnovers – they’re all related to skating,” said Mike Modano. “We were a step behind (Thursday) night, taking penalties that are normally lazy, out of position penalties and you start to get into power play issues. When you’re moving, it causes a lot of good things to happen for your team. We have to start doing that.”

Detroit scored three power play goals, including two in the first period, to set the tone for the game and an eventual 1-0 lead in the series for Detroit. The Stars entered the Conference Finals with the best penalty kill of the teams left standing with an 85.7% success rate, and also finished second in the league during the regular season with a mark of 85.5% (consistent numbers).

The Stars know they can’t give Detroit too many chances with the extra man, especially early, but also need to clamp down on the PK and get the job done. Allowing three power play goals on seven opportunities is not going to cut it.

“We were confident we could stop them (when Detroit was on the power play),” said Turco. “One of their goals came on a 5-on-3 and that’s tough but a lot of those pucks had eyes too. They weren’t tap-ins or bad plays on our part.”

Added Mike Ribeiro, “They scored three goals on their power play. We were pretty good on the penalty kill throughout the season and in the playoffs too. It’s just a matter of regrouping and playing with more discipline. We have to stop taking stick penalties and of course we have to get our penalty killing back on track. It’s going to be a big part of the game and we have to focus on the details.”

Detroit did a good job of getting in front of Turco and causing havoc in front of (and sometimes in) his crease. The Stars know they have to limit those opportunities for Detroit.

“They’re good at getting in front of the net and tipping pucks,” said Trevor Daley. “They’re a good team and we have to find a way to shut that down. We have to get in front of them and block some pucks. I think we have to ‘take one for the team’ and get in shooting lanes. We can’t just let them shoot and take away as much as possible. They are going to get chances to score but we have to limit them as much as we can.”

The bottom line – the Stars still have an opportunity to get a split in the first two games and that is the goal.

“That’s the way we try to look at it (trying to get a split.),” said Ribeiro. “You try and win the first one but if you don’t you want to at least get one here. You want to get a split and go from there. We know what we have to do to play better and show up differently. We need to get our focus on the right spot and play as a team.”

Added Turco, “As poorly as we thought we played (Thursday), we didn’t really give them much 5-on-5. But we can play better and we expect to play better on Saturday night.”

The Wings played very well in Game One. The Stars expect that level of play to continue. The plan is to raise Dallas’ level up and get back to playing the type of hockey that got them this far.

“(The Wings’ level of play) was probably a good wake up call for us,” said Modano. “It certainly showed us how good that team is and how well they play. Their structure is pretty solid and everyone plays the same way. They certainly do a lot of the little things that make it difficult for you.

“It’s one game and we’ll learn from it and push back a little bit (Saturday) night.”

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