DETROIT - Marty Turco was probably able to sleep a little easier last night after winning at Joe Louis Arena for the first time in his professional career yesterday.
With the weight of an 0-9-2 career record at "The Joe" sitting heavily on his shoulders, Turco made a series-high 38 saves to lead the Stars to a 2-1 victory over the Red Wings in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals.
"It feels good," Turco said. "It feels better with the situation we were in, the environment we were in, and the ability we had to overcome it."
Playing like Patrick Roy in his prime, Turco was handling the puck better than at any other point in the series against Detroit, and it showed as he even picked up an assist on Joel Lundqvist's game-winner 6:04 into the second period.
Forward Mike Modano said Turco's winless streak was discussed among the Stars before the game, and Dallas captain Brenden Morrow added that he saw a renewed "focus and preparation" from his netminder entering the contest.
"We just felt that if you gave us enough opportunities here that one of these days we're going to play well, and he's going to stand out and win us a game here," Modano said of Turco.
"That's the great thing about sports is you get a lot of second chances, a lot of chances to prove yourself all over again, and erase a lot of doubt that anybody has in you."
Detroit still holds a 3-2 advantage, but the series now moves back to Dallas for Game 6 tomorrow night.
"I thought we were a little uptight at the start of the game," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "You want to clinch so bad that it doesn't happen for you.
"Nobody wanted to go back to Dallas, but I don't think anybody when we started this series thought it was going to be easy."
Detroit seized some momentum in the early going when Dallas Drake made three bone-crushing hits in a span of 15 seconds in the first period - two of them coming against Toby Petersen - but the Stars would respond with a dagger of their own.
Turco led a Dallas breakout with a pass to forward Niklas Hagman in the neutral zone. Hagman then found center Brad Richards, who skated in past the blue line to set up the Stars' first goal.
Richards delivered a no-look backhand pass through his legs to Trevor Daley, who promptly fired the puck into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead with 10:39 remaining in the period.
After several quality scoring chances during Detroit's first two opportunities with the man advantage, Jiri Hudler finally broke Detroit's 0-for-10 power-play scoring drought with 4:30 left in the first period.
Niklas Kronwall found Hudler all alone just to the left of the goal, and Hudler deposited the puck in the net with a little kiss off the left post as it went in.
Turco later caught the Red Wings on a line change in the second period, lasering the puck to Lundqvist at center ice. Lundqvist then carried the puck in on the right wing and beat Osgood on his blocker side for a 2-1 lead with 13:56 remaining.
"We just over-backchecked on a two-versus-two situation," Babcock said. "The puck was shot by Turco. It hit [Darren] McCarty. [Chris] Chelios thought it was going, I guess, in front of him and came to the bench, so that gave them the second goal, which is unfortunate."
Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom said the Red Wings must be conscious of Turco's skill at moving the puck forward at all times.
"Turco is so good at playing the puck that you pretty much always have to have a guy back," Lidstrom said. "We didn't on that play."
Lidstrom added that the Red Wings have been in much worse situations before in the playoffs, so there is no panic in the dressing room.
"I'm sure they're feeling good winning two games, especially coming in here and winning," Lidstrom said. "We just have to go there and turn the tables on them."
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