<
>

Down 4-0, Stars shoot past Kings with five unanswered

DALLAS (AP) -- Local hockey fans thought they had it bad waiting
17½ months to see the Dallas Stars play a game that counted. It got
worse just 4:18 into the NHL's return when their team was already
down by three goals.

Then it was four goals before the first period even ended.

But on a night meant to be all about the fans, the Stars sent
their sellout crowd home happy. Philippe Boucher capped the club's
biggest rally since 1997 by banking in a goal off a Los Angeles
player with 4:46 left, giving Dallas a 5-4 victory over the Kings
on Wednesday night.

"From an entertainment factor, we held up our end tonight,"
Stars coach Dave Tippett said.

With a crowd of 18,532 eagerly greeting the first home game that
counted since April 14, 2004, the Kings seemed like party crashers
by beating Dallas goaltender Marty Turco with their first, third
and fifth shots. Newly acquired Jeremy Roenick scored twice in Los
Angeles' early barrage, then Dustin Brown stretched the lead by
scoring with 8.1 seconds left in the period.

Tippett said the coaches discussed during the first intermission
whether to pull Turco, whose 1.91 goals-against-average is the best
in league history for anyone playing at least 100 games.

"Instead we challenged him and decided to see what would happen
and we challenged the rest of the players to bail him out,"
Tippett said.

The Stars responded quickly. Jason Arnott scored on a power play
early in the second period, then Sergei Zubov followed with two
more quick goals against Mathieu Garon. The second came with a man
advantage, too, which was key because Dallas went 0-for-5 on the
power play in the first period.

Los Angeles faced 10 power plays in the first two periods and
four more in the third. Although the Stars didn't get another goal
on them, the accumulation took a toll on the Kings.

"We spend the whole night killing penalties, it's going to
catch you," Roenick said. "It wears guys out."

Arnott had three assists, while Zubov and Bill Guerin each had
one. Guerin scored the tying goal midway through the third period
when he redirected a long swat by Stephane Robidas.

On the winning goal, Boucher crept up along the right side and
knocked the puck to the front of the crease, where Arnott was
camped out. It never got to him, though, because it hit the player
defending him and rolled past Garon.

"We gave them the game," Garon said. "We were up four, but in
the second period we took a couple penalties, the momentum changed
and they were on their game."

The fans were, too.

The Stars tied together the return of the NHL from its lockout,
the 12th anniversary of their home debut and the league's new
fan-friendly approach by having a fan who was celebrating her 12th
birthday drop the ceremonial opening puck.

After punctuating the national anthem with their usual emphasis
on the word "stars," the crowd turned silent when Los Angeles
started scoring then turned surly when the goals continued. They
booed the team on the way to the locker room for the first
intermission, which Boucher took as a good sign.

"That meant they were into it," he said.

But they remained in their seats and were loud when the comeback
was rolling. The first hearty chant of "Let's Go Stars!" barely
preceded the tying goal. They went bonkers after the go-ahead goal.

"I'm so glad we came back," Boucher said. "They didn't
deserve the effort we gave them in the first."

Even Roenick called the crowd "impressive."

"It was a great way to open up after a long layoff, a great way
to come back," he said.

He added his own personal welcome back by taking five stitches
above his left eye.

"It feels good," he said. "I feel like a hockey player
again."

Turco finished with 25 saves and Garon 16.

Sean Avery scored the Kings' other goal.

Game notes
Dallas improved to 6-0-3 in its last nine openers. ... Los
Angeles lost for only the second time in 11 openers. ... The first
fight of the season for both teams came about 5 minutes into the
second period, when Los Angeles' George Parros tangled with Dallas'
John Erskine. Erskine landed two punches and threw down Parros
before both headed to the penalty box. ... The Stars open with
three straight home games. ... This was one of only three October
road games for the Kings.