Marty Turco knows the best way to make sure the Dallas Stars win a home playoff game is not to let anything get past him.
So he did exactly that -- for all but the final 7.6 seconds Thursday night.
Turco's near shutout, backed up by third-period goals from Stu Barnes and Steve Ott, sent the Stars past the Anaheim Ducks 3-1, giving Dallas that exact same lead in their first-round series.
The Stars can eliminate the reigning Stanley Cup champions in Game 5 in Anaheim on Friday night. Dallas already is 2-0 in that building this series.
"We understand the situation," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "We've got to give ourselves a chance."
Anaheim did so by winning Game 3. It dropped the Stars to 1-7 in home playoff games, a big reason why they haven't won a playoff series since a first-rounder in 2003.
The lone home win in that rut was a shutout by Turco. He almost did it again, until Mathieu Schneider slid the puck past him in the waning moments. It was Anaheim's first third-period goal of the series.
"Tonight I felt really good," said Turco, who made 28 saves. "I had an opportunity to see all the shots that came my way. There were some anxious, scrambly moments in the second period. But the guys were doing all they could to help me."
Turco didn't have too many spectacular stops, but he did have a third-period collision with Teemu Selanne.
Selanne skated stick-first into Turco's head, then conked the goalie's helmet with an elbow. Turco fell backward into the net, but was back on his skates as Selanne headed to the penalty box.
"I got clocked, but had good feeling," Turco said. "It wasn't an accident. You've got to appreciate his moxie to help those guys win. Their backs are against the wall and he's a competitor."
Turco's solid play protected an early goal by Joel Lundqvist. Midway through the third period, Barnes scored on a breakaway off a long, terrific feed from Mike Modano to give Turco more breathing room. Then Barnes stole a pass and set up Ott's goal, making it 3-0 with only 2:43 left.
"Dallas is outplaying us," Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere said. "We just haven't played at the level we need to be successful."
The Stars played at a high level despite having three rookies among its six defensemen. They were forced into it because of a lower-body injury to Philippe Boucher. Coach Dave Tippett said Boucher won't even be re-evaluated for another week. Dallas already is without blue-line star Sergei Zubov because of a sports hernia.
Turco was proud of the youngsters in front of him: Mark Fistric, making his debut, and Nicklas Grossman and Matt Niskanen, each playing in just their fourth playoff game.
"They have grittiness and skill," Turco said. "It was amazing to watch."
Perhaps because everyone was thinking about helping the defense, the Stars were far less offense-minded than they had been.
After taking at least 30 shots and scoring at least two power-play goals in each of the first three games, Dallas got off only 20 shots -- and none on their first five power plays. They finally got a few shots on their final try with the man advantage, but that came in the final minute.
Anaheim's offense got a lift from the return of Corey Perry, who led the club in goals this season. He'd missed the last six weeks with a sliced thigh, but played 12:13 and took three shots.
"I thought he was a little rusty, but I thought the more he played, he showed the ability to get back in it," Carlyle said. "You run a dangerous slope in trying to play a guy like that a bunch of minutes."
Anaheim thought it tied it midway through the second period, but a lengthy video review determined that Brian Sutherby kicked in the puck. Carlyle was more upset that his team was "too cute" with the puck early, going for pretty goals at a time when there's no bonus points for looks.
"We didn't generate too many quality scoring chances," Carlyle said. "As the game went on, we started to get more of a cycle going on, and that's our mantra."
Anaheim is a loss away from continuing a dismal streak for defending champs -- none has reached the second round since Colorado in 2002.