4-16-07 -- Getting goals from the checking line is the kind of thing NHL teams need in pursuit of the Stanley Cup. And the Dallas Stars can proudly say they're getting that.
Problem is, the guys they pay to score aren't.
Mike Modano, Jere Lehtinen, Philippe Boucher, Mike Ribeiro and Niklas Hagman -- Dallas' top five goal-scorers in the regular season -- have yet to beat Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo, a big reason why the Stars are trailing Vancouver 2-1 going into Game 4 of their first-round series Tuesday night.
"Some of those people, a timely goal by them would certainly help the cause," Stars coach Dave Tippett said Monday. "Even though our team is built around scoring by committee, we need those top players to contribute."
All of Dallas' goals the last two games have come from guys who earn their ice time with grit. OK, so that's only been three goals, but everyone knew coming into this series there wouldn't be many. So the most-skilled players were on notice from the start.
Vancouver hasn't scored much either. The teams have combined for seven goals by seven different players. The difference is that the Canucks' goal-scorers have included the usual suspects like Daniel Sedin, Markus Nasland and Taylor Pyatt. Pyatt's goal was the winner in overtime of Game 3 on Sunday night.
Vancouver's offense was dragging for the first 30-plus minutes of that game, so coach Alain Vigneault changed up his top line, pairing Nasland with the Sedin twins. He also hooked up Jan Bulis and Jannik Hansen; that combination produced the tying goal in the third period, when the Canucks fired off 15 shots to only four by Dallas.
"It's always great to play with the twins," Naslund said. "They're smart players and they make it easy for you. I thought the other line combinations played really well and we created a lot of chances, too, so it was a good shake-up."
Dallas' lack of scoring chances bothers Tippett as much as the lack of goals, figuring one will lead to the other.
Modano logged the most ice time of any forward yet managed only a single shot. Captain Brenden Morrow played just under 20 minutes and didn't register a shot.
"We're getting pucks at the net, but a lot of them are just hope-for plays thrown out there," Morrow said. "We've got to have a purpose for it and get it into the area, get effort in there to get rebounds. We haven't done that enough."
Modano sounded worn out from trying and failing.
"The scoring chances are slim and none out there," he said. "You try to make the most of it when you do get it. You've got to work through their checkers, then you've got to go through (defenseman Willie) Mitchell and then you've still got Luongo. ... We've got our hands full."
Tippett was tightlipped about possibly shaking up his lines.
"We'll see," he said. "The games are so tight, you don't want to just throw everything out of the window. We just have to have faith in the people we have there and keep pushing ahead."
The Stars have also lost five straight home playoff games, a skid that spans three postseasons. The last one gave back the home-ice advantage they'd gained by winning Game 2.
"We don't have that killer instinct right now," Morrow said. "We've got to find it within ourselves. Coaches can't talk it into you. You've got to find it."
Dallas goaltender Marty Turco is halfway to a third straight playoff series loss. Unlike the other two, he's low on the list of people to blame in this series. Turco shut out the Canucks through three overtimes in the opener, notched his first career playoff shutout in Game 2 and was two-thirds of the way to another in Game 3 until the attack in front of him fizzled and he was beaten once in the third period and again in overtime.
"You're not going to shut a team out four times and win that way," Morrow said. "If I was him, I'd be (angry) at our team right now. He's giving us chances to win and we're not getting it done for him. That's on our shoulders. Some of us have to step up and find a way to get that winner."