for this game

Neal leads charge as Stars topple Maple Leafs

Dec 24, 2008 - 4:18 AM
TORONTO (Ticker) -- The Dallas Stars are finally living up to expectations.

James Neal recorded a hat trick, while rookie Fabian Brunnstrom and Steve Ott each registered a goal and an assist as the Stars rolled past the Toronto Maple Leafs, 8-2, on Tuesday.

Mike Ribeiro also scored and had an assist, Brad Richards netted a power-play goal and Krys Barch tallied for the Stars, who have earned points in eight of their last 11 games, going 7-3-1 over that span.

"It was a fine performance for some of our young guys," Dallas coach Dave Tippett said. "It was a thrill for some of our guys from this area to come back and play.

"It's pretty obvious they were a team that traveled late last night. We wanted to jump on top of them and put them away early - it's pretty hard to come back when you're a tired team."

Jere Lehtinen, Landon Wilson and defensemen Trevor Daley and Stephane Robidas all notched two assists in support of Marty Turco, who turned aside 20 shots.

"A quick start would be ideal," Turco said. "Good first and second shifts. I can't remember too many bad shifts tonight. Incredible sign for our team, with guys blocking shots in the second, taking hits in the third and playing a full 60 minutes despite being up so big."

Jason Blake ended a seven-goal run by Dallas with 4 1/2 minutes left in the second period and Mikhail Grabovski added his 12th goal of the season in the final session, but Toronto failed to earn its sixth win in seven tries.

"They were a fresh team and if they had played last night, it might have been a little more fair for us," said Toronto coach Ron Wilson, whose team was coming off a three-game road trip and playing for the fourth time in five days.

"It was fatigue tonight because we couldn't even generate a shot tonight, something we usually dominate."

The Stars, who were bounced by the Detroit Red Wings in six games in the Western Conference finals last season, began this campaign rather sluggish.

They finished October with a pedestrian 4-5-2 record and their struggles continued into November as captain Brenden Morrow was lost for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

Entering December with an 8-11-4 mark and having yet to post back-to-back victories, Dallas has now seemingly put an end to its dormant slumber.

The team was able to string together consecutive wins this past week, but failed to notch its first three-game run of the season on Saturday in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Ottawa Senators.

"We had a tough overtime loss against Ottawa, so it's really great to get these points," Neal said. "We really needed them. Coming home and doing it is only a bonus."

Neal made sure the Stars did not fall back into their losing ways when he opened the scoring 3:23 into the first with a wrist shot in front of the net.

"Everything was clicking and the points were big tonight," Neal said. "It helps when you're playing with guys like (Lehtinen) and (Mike) Modano - it makes scoring easy. I was just going to the net and taking any shots I could get."

Ott converted a tip-in on the doorstep 8:55 into the first and Brunnstrom added to Dallas' lead just 1:50 later.

Richards then ballooned the advantage to 4-0 with a slap shot from the left faceoff circle with 5:48 left in the session while on the power play.

"We had trouble putting the puck deep," Toronto defenseman Tomas Kaberle said. "We only had a couple shots after 10 minutes. They did exactly what we wanted to do - put a couple shots in early and shut us down. Our guys kept going though and gave it their all the last 20 minutes."

Barch converted passes from Wilson and Daley 3:45 into the second, and Ribeiro and Neal tallied 80 seconds apart, giving Dallas a commanding 7-0 bulge.

"We knew what was at stake tonight," Daley said. "We needed wins whenever we can and going into the Christmas break, this is a high note."

Blake and Grabovski cut Toronto's deficit to five with consecutive tallies, but Neal secured his first career hat trick on the power play with 86 seconds left in the game.

"A real special day coming home, playing the Toronto Maple Leafs," said Neal, who is a Whitby, Ontario native. "I've been watching them my whole life and it's great coming home being a Leafs fan."








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    DALLAS 4 3 1 8
    TORONTO 0 1 1 2 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: DAL - JAMES NEAL 9 (TREVOR DALEY, JERE LEHTINEN) 3:23
    DAL - STEVE OTT 3 (MIKE RIBEIRO, FABIAN BRUNNSTROM) 8:55
    DAL - FABIAN BRUNNSTROM 10 (STEVE OTT, STEPHANE ROBIDAS)
    10:45
    DAL - (PP) BRAD RICHARDS 9 (STEPHANE ROBID

    Dec 23 10:02 PM


  • NHL
    DALLAS 8
    TORONTO 2
    3RD PRD: DAL - (PP) JAMES NEAL 11 (ANDREW HUTCHINSON) 18:34

    Stars 8, Maple Leafs 2  3rd - 1:26Dec 23 9:59 PM


  • NHL
    DALLAS 7
    TORONTO 2
    3RD PRD: TOR - MIKHAIL GRABOVSKI 12 (ANDRE DEVEAUX, LEE STEMPNIAK)
    9:20

    Stars 7, Maple Leafs 2  3rd - 10:40Dec 23 9:42 PM
  • 5
    roots
    McTool Added 5 roots

    Stars 7, Maple Leafs 1  End of 2ndDec 23 9:20 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    DALLAS 4 3 7
    TORONTO 0 1 1 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: DAL - JAMES NEAL 9 (TREVOR DALEY, JERE LEHTINEN) 3:23
    DAL - STEVE OTT 3 (MIKE RIBEIRO, FABIAN BRUNNSTROM) 8:55
    DAL - FABIAN BRUNNSTROM 10 (STEVE OTT, STEPHANE ROBIDAS)
    10:45
    DAL - (PP) BRAD RICHARDS 9 (S

    Dec 23 9:10 PM


  • NHL
    DALLAS 7
    TORONTO 1
    2ND PRD: TOR - JASON BLAKE 7 (DOMINIC MOORE, TOMAS KABERLE) 15:33

    Stars 7, Maple Leafs 1  2nd - 4:27Dec 23 9:01 PM


  • NHL
    DALLAS 7
    TORONTO 0
    2ND PRD: DAL - JAMES NEAL 10 (NIKLAS GROSSMAN, JERE LEHTINEN) 11:35

    Stars 7, Maple Leafs 0  2nd - 8:25Dec 23 8:54 PM


  • NHL
    DALLAS 6
    TORONTO 0
    2ND PRD: DAL - MIKE RIBEIRO 5 (LANDON WILSON, MATT NISKANEN) 10:15

    Stars 6, Maple Leafs 0  2nd - 9:45Dec 23 8:48 PM


  • NHL
    DALLAS 5
    TORONTO 0
    2ND PRD: DAL - KRYS BARCH 3 (LANDON WILSON, TREVOR DALEY) 3:45

    Stars 5, Maple Leafs 0  2nd - 16:15Dec 23 8:38 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    DALLAS 4 4
    TORONTO 0 0 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: DAL - JAMES NEAL 9 (TREVOR DALEY, JERE LEHTINEN) 3:23
    DAL - STEVE OTT 3 (MIKE RIBEIRO, FABIAN BRUNNSTROM) 8:55
    DAL - FABIAN BRUNNSTROM 10 (STEVE OTT, STEPHANE ROBIDAS)
    10:45
    DAL - (PP) BRAD RICHARDS 9 (S

    Dec 23 8:16 PM


  • NHL
    DALLAS 4
    TORONTO 0
    1ST PRD: DAL - (PP) BRAD RICHARDS 9 (STEPHANE ROBIDAS, MIKE MODANO)
    14:12

    Stars 4, Maple Leafs 0  1st - 5:48Dec 23 8:06 PM


  • NHL
    DALLAS 3
    TORONTO 0
    1ST PRD: DAL - FABIAN BRUNNSTROM 10 (STEVE OTT, STEPHANE ROBIDAS)
    10:45

    Stars 3, Maple Leafs 0  1st - 9:15Dec 23 7:56 PM


  • NHL
    DALLAS 2
    TORONTO 0
    1ST PRD: DAL - STEVE OTT 3 (MIKE RIBEIRO, FABIAN BRUNNSTROM) 8:55

    Stars 2, Maple Leafs 0  1st - 11:05Dec 23 7:54 PM


  • NHL
    DALLAS 1
    TORONTO 0
    1ST PRD: DAL - JAMES NEAL 9 (TREVOR DALEY, JERE LEHTINEN) 3:23

    Stars 1, Maple Leafs 0  1st - 16:37Dec 23 7:47 PM