By Larry Fleisher
PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
NEW YORK (Ticker) -- Sean Avery led the Dallas Stars in the
passion and energy department. After his teammates followed
suit, they were on their way to being treated to dinner by their
Mike Modano snapped a tie just 8:03 into the third period as the
Stars rallied for a 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers on
Monday in Avery's return to Madison Square Garden.
Captain Brenden Morrow added a power-play tally and Marty Turco
finished with 28 saves for Dallas, which snapped a two-game
losing streak and also allowed less than three goals for the
first time this season.
"It was a tight game and we needed to be responsible in all
areas of the game," Modano said. "We knew we needed some saves
and we needed some opportunities to get some goals and we got
"It was a good win by our team," said Stars coach Dave Tippett,
who had seen his team allow a league-worst 23 goals before
Monday. "That's all there is to say. It was a good game with a
lot of pace. We beat a pretty good team over there, so we'll
take that win."
Markus Naslund scored 58 seconds into the contest and Henrik
Lundqvist made 25 saves for New York, which has posted a 1-2-1
record following a 5-0-0 start. The Rangers played for the
seventh time in 11 games and have scored just six goals in their
last four contests.
"I thought it was going to be a very tight game," New York coach
Tom Renney said. "I thought it was going to be close. I thought
we were going to win it. They are a fundamentally sound team.
It was going to be a mistake that won the hockey game."
"It was a tight game," Lundqvist added. "They are a good team,
but at the same time we need to put pressure on them. They
played pretty solid."
With the game tied at 1-1, B.J. Crombeen was able to gain
possession of the puck behind the net. Rangers' defenseman Dan
Girardi was unable to clear and it went straight to Modano, who
scored on a wrist shot from the outer edge of the left faceoff
Modano scored his 531st career goal and it came on a night when
Avery had his much-hyped to New York.
Avery did not stick around his locker to discuss it, only saying
to the crowd of reporters: "I love you guys, but I have to take
my teammates out to dinner."
He did however conduct an interview on MSG network's postgame
show with Stan Fischler.
"We played well," he said. "We played a real good road game.
That's all I can ask."
Considered to be among the most hated players in the league,
Avery played 1 1/2 seasons with the Rangers. He recorded 23
goals and 30 assists following his acquisition from Los Angeles
on February 5 2007.
In his time with the Rangers, Avery also went out of his way to
be a nuisance to opposing players. His most notable incident
was his obstruction dance in front of Devils goaltender Martin
Brodeur during last spring's Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
The Rangers won that series in five games and it prompted the
NHL to make a rule change. Avery and New York saw their season
end in the conference semifinals for the second year in a row.
During the offseason, they parted ways as New York drastically
revamped its roster.
Without Avery, the Rangers tied a franchise mark with five
straight wins to open the season and have the most points in the
NHL. Avery's new team gave him a four-year, $15.5 million deal
and then struggled early before turning in their finest
defensive showing of the young season.
"Tonight was certainly his best game from an emotional and
passion perspective," Turco said. "If he's playing the right
way and playing hard, that's the guy we want. He led in the
department tonight of passion and emotion - just like we
Avery did not score and did not take any costly penalties but
did try to distract Brandon Dubinsky during warmups. He tried
trying to do the same on the first shift of the night but it
also resulted in Loui Eriksson taking a tripping
penalty just 25 seconds into the contest.
Less than a minute later, the Rangers had the lead when Naslund
tapped in the rebound of defenseman Michal Rozsvial's slap shot
that missed the net. It was the second goal of the season for
Naslund, who got by defenseman Mark Fistric to the doorstep and
tucked the rebound into the vacated side of the net.
That was the lone negative of the night and Dallas eventually
tied it on an ugly goal in the second period.
"I think this was a big game for him," Morrow said. "He let it
be known for him. His emotions were there and he cared."
Dallas tied it when Morrow broke away from Girardi and parked
himself in the front of the net. After getting the rebound of
rookie Fabian Brunnstrom's wrist shot, Morrow fell down but was
still able to put the puck past Lundvist at 5:28 of the second.
"It's just been a frustrating start personally and for the
team," Morrow said. "I kind of felt like if something nasty and
ugly went for us, that was kind of the break we needed and we
took advantage in the third."
After giving up a goal on the first shot, Turco played well and
turned in his best save when he stopped Dubinsky on a breakaway
early in the third and did not face any significant scoring
chances the rest of the way.
"Our third period was our best," Turco said. "That's
reassuring. We felt better as the game went on. They scored
first and quick and everything just pointed to this team going
in the right direction. Obviously the win is the most important
thing but the way it was done was a close second.
By Larry Fleisher