Didn’t see the whole game, but I stayed up long enough to watch Dallas turn it around in the second period. What a great comeback!
DALLAS (AP) — Local hockey fans thought they had it bad waiting 17Â½ months to see the Dallas Stars play a game that counted. It got worse just 4:18 into the NHL’s return when their team was already down by three goals.
Then it was four goals before the first period even ended.
But on a night meant to be all about the fans, the Stars sent their sellout crowd home happy. Philippe Boucher capped the club’s biggest rally since 1997 by banking in a goal off a Los Angeles player with 4:46 left, giving Dallas a 5-4 victory over the Kings on Wednesday night.
“From an entertainment factor, we held up our end tonight,” Stars coach Dave Tippett said.
With a crowd of 18,532 eagerly greeting the first home game that counted since April 14, 2004, the Kings seemed like party crashers by beating Dallas goaltender Marty Turco with their first, third and fifth shots. Newly acquired Jeremy Roenick scored twice in Los Angeles’ early barrage, then Dustin Brown stretched the lead by scoring with 8.1 seconds left in the period.
Tippett said the coaches discussed during the first intermission whether to pull Turco, whose 1.91 goals-against-average is the best in league history for anyone playing at least 100 games.
“Instead we challenged him and decided to see what would happen and we challenged the rest of the players to bail him out,” Tippett said.
The Stars responded quickly. Jason Arnott scored on a power play early in the second period, then Sergei Zubov followed with two more quick goals against Mathieu Garon. The second came with a man advantage, too, which was key because Dallas went 0-for-5 on the power play in the first period.
Los Angeles faced 10 power plays in the first two periods and four more in the third. Although the Stars didn’t get another goal on them, the accumulation took a toll on the Kings.
“We spend the whole night killing penalties, it’s going to catch you,” Roenick said. “It wears guys out.”
Arnott had three assists, while Zubov and Bill Guerin each had one. Guerin scored the tying goal midway through the third period when he redirected a long swat by Stephane Robidas.
On the winning goal, Boucher crept up along the right side and knocked the puck to the front of the crease, where Arnott was camped out. It never got to him, though, because it hit the player defending him and rolled past Garon.
“We gave them the game,” Garon said. “We were up four, but in the second period we took a couple penalties, the momentum changed and they were on their game.”
The fans were, too.
The Stars tied together the return of the NHL from its lockout, the 12th anniversary of their home debut and the league’s new fan-friendly approach by having a fan who was celebrating her 12th birthday drop the ceremonial opening puck.
After punctuating the national anthem with their usual emphasis on the word “stars,” the crowd turned silent when Los Angeles started scoring then turned surly when the goals continued. They booed the team on the way to the locker room for the first intermission, which Boucher took as a good sign.
“That meant they were into it,” he said.
But they remained in their seats and were loud when the comeback was rolling. The first hearty chant of “Let’s Go Stars!” barely preceded the tying goal. They went bonkers after the go-ahead goal.
“I’m so glad we came back,” Boucher said. “They didn’t deserve the effort we gave them in the first.”
Even Roenick called the crowd “impressive.”
“It was a great way to open up after a long layoff, a great way to come back,” he said.
He added his own personal welcome back by taking five stitches above his left eye.
“It feels good,” he said. “I feel like a hockey player again.”
Turco finished with 25 saves and Garon 16.
Sean Avery scored the Kings’ other goal.