|Another first-round exit for Stars despite Turco's answers|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 24 April 2007 21:41|
Still, despite three shutouts and Turco's .952 save percentage, the end result was the same for the goalie and the Dallas Stars: another first-round exit into an offseason of uncertainty.
This time, the end also came with an apology on behalf of the team to Turco from captain Brenden Morrow, who knows the goalie did all he could to try to get the Stars past the Vancouver Canucks.
``That's very nice of them, but we knew we were in for that type of battle,'' Turco said. ``When you don't win and it's right there in front of you, I think we're all sorry. But we just wish we could take the sorries back.''
This is the third straight season the Stars are done after not making it out of the first round.
Coach David Tippett has another season left on his contract, but his return isn't certain. The near-comeback against the Canucks may have helped.
After five-game eliminations against Colorado the past two playoffs, the Stars overcame a 3-1 series deficit against Vancouver to force Game 7 for the first time. They did it by winning in overtime and then winning at home - ending six-game losing streaks in both situations.
The Stars led 1-0 after the first period of the deciding game Monday on the road, but couldn't get another puck past Roberto Luongo, who had a .950 save percentage while winning his first playoff series.
Tippett said Turco, who has lost four straight playoff series since winning his first, was ``unbelievable'' against the Canucks.
``Gave us a chance to win every game. That's all you can ask from your goaltender,'' Tippett said. ``I thought the goaltending in this series was phenomenal. People can talk about lack of scoring, but when you look at two goaltenders ... There's just some great goaltending.''
Even without winning the series, Turco shed some of his postseason past, and showed he was worthy of the long-term commitment the Stars made last year when they gave him a contract extension though 2009-10. Before this year, his career save percentage had dropped from .914 during the regular season to .892 in the playoffs.
This time, Turco had a 1.30 GAA and stopped 218 of 229 shots. He had a career-best shutout streak of 165:45 minutes.
``Right now, I don't take anything away other than losing in the first round again, just sheer disappointment,'' Turco said. ``We did some good things, we really battled hard, but in the end it just wasn't enough and when you look back after a long time, as we all will, that will be the first thing we think of.''
It wasn't enough because the Stars didn't put pucks in the net.
Dallas had only 12 goals - and four of those came in the four-overtime loss that started the series. The Stars lost a pair of 2-1 games, which was the score in Game 7 before two empty-netters by the Canucks.
``It's a great beginning for Marty. He's got a long career ahead of him, a lot of upside,'' Mike Modano said. ``It just takes a lot of things to be successful in the playoffs and certainly he gave us every opportunity to advance in this series. He did everything he could possibly do. You need to score more than one goal in the playoffs.''
Modano, whose 507 goals in the regular season are the most for a U.S.-born player, scored only one goal in the series. That was on a 5-on-3 power play early in Game 6.
That was the only goal scored by any of the Stars' top five goal-scorers in the regular season: Modano, Jere Lehtinen, Philippe Boucher, Mike Ribeiro and Niklas Hagman.
The Stars played the final game without defenseman and on-ice leader Sergei Zubov, who pulled a stomach muscle in the second period of Game 6.
``Anything specialty teams, he's huge for us. He plays half the game and quarterbacks the power play, kills a lot of penalties,'' Morrow said. ``He's just so smart and always in position. We missed him.''
Vancouver was only 1-of-31 on power plays in the series, and had failed to convert on 26 straight chances before scoring twice with the man advantage to take the lead in the finale.
Centers Eric Lindros and Stu Barnes and defenseman Darryl Sydor are among the potential free agents.
``Who knows?,'' Barnes said when asked about the future. ``I haven't thought that far ahead.''
Lindros arrived in Dallas as a complementary player, but had little impact with a career-low five goals in 49 regular-season games before missing 20 games with a groin injury.
Back for the final three games of the playoffs, Lindros helped the Stars get back in the series with some aggressive play and solid hits. But he took only three shots.