DALLAS (AP)—A goalie change and a change in attitude sparked the Dallas Stars to a come-from-behind victory.
Rookie goalie Mike Smith stopped all 15 shots he faced after taking over for starter Marty Turco, and the Stars rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat Minnesota 4-2 on Tuesday night, snapping the Wild’s three-game winning streak.
“Sometimes a team needs a little shakeup,” Smith said. “It worked tonight. I hadn’t played in a month. I was a little anxious at first, but I settled down. This is a big win for us. They’re right behind us in the standings.”
Smith hadn’t played since sustaining a concussion in a game on Jan. 4. Turco hadn’t missed a game since Dec. 14, but when he allowed two goals in Minnesota’s first seven shots, coach Dave Tippett decided it was time to switch goalies.
“It was one of those things where we needed to change the momentum of the game,” Tippett said. “I like the way our guys stuck with it after that.”
Sergei Zubov scored a tiebreaking goal on the power play with 4:41 left for the Stars.
The Stars were lethargic early, but nobody hung their heads on the bench.
“We didn’t have the kind of start we wanted, but we’ve been grinding all year and we stuck to our game plan,” Boucher said. “We’ve had the tendency to come back. For us, the power play is a big key. Look at the games we’ve lost, we’ve been 0-for-6, 0-for-7 on the power play.”
Dallas has 66 points, four better than Minnesota in the Western Conference playoff race.
“We didn’t deserve any points,” Minnesota defenseman Wes Walz said. “But even as bad as we played, we were in the game with a chance to pull a point out of here with one (penalty) kill (on Zubov’s goal).”
All-Star left wing Brian Rolston was scratched for the Wild due to a stomach virus.
Rolston, who has a team-high 25 goals and 46 points, played in Minnesota’s first 54 games this season.
Also out for Minnesota was No. 1 goalie Manny Fernandez, the former Dallas backup who’ll be unavailable for three more weeks because of a knee injury.
Backstrom, a 29-year-old rookie, has played well in place of Fernandez, winning his previous three starts entering Tuesday night.
Nummelin got the game’s first goal at 7:27, his third. Dupuis made it 2-0 at 8:08 on a dump-in from beyond the left circle, his 10th.
Turco reacted late on Dupuis’ shot, and Tippett sent Smith onto the ice.
Dallas trimmed the deficit to 2-1 at 12:02 of the first period on Boucher’s 15th of the season, a shot from the slot off a behind-the-net pass from Jokinen.
Boucher missed the previous two games with a lower-body injury.
Modano’s rebound, his 11th goal of the season and 496th of his career, pulled the Stars even at 2 at 12:25 of the second period.
Modano is six goals shy of matching Joe Mullen for the most by a U.S.-born player.
The goal was Modano’s first since Dec. 4. Modano is rounding back into shape after missing 23 straight games because of a hip injury. Tuesday night was his fourth game since his return.
“It’s coming for me,” Modano said. “The legs are starting to feel a little lighter which is a good thing.”
The Stars remain without forwards Brenden Morrow (wrist), Matthew Barnaby (concussion) and Steve Ott (ankle). … The Wild nearly had a goal in the first five minutes on a shot by Pierre-Marc Bouchard, but replays showed that Stars C Patrik Stefan was able to stop the puck with his stick just before it crossed the goal line. … Dallas dominated the second period with a 16-6 shots advantage.