Stefan had no points while appearing in only six games for the Stars before Friday night, but he was in top form for his return.
"I spent six years here that were very special, so I'm sure I had a little extra tonight," Stefan said. "But as soon as the puck drops it doesn't matter where you play."
Atlanta was left with its first three-game losing streak of the season and concerns about Marian Hossa, who needed help leaving the ice after crashing into the boards late in the game.
Hossa looked groggy as he sat slumped on the bench, but he insisted he'll be ready for Saturday's game at Montreal.
"I'm going to be fine," Hossa said.
Marty Turco stopped 20 shots to help Dallas win for the ninth time in 10 games against Atlanta. The Stars have won each of their past five visits to Atlanta, but this win over the first-place Thrashers was the most impressive.
"They have a lot of skills," Ribeiro said of the Thrashers. "They stay out of the box. They can beat anyone."
The Thrashers drew only three minor penalties, including one by Ilya Kovalchuk in the third period that set up the only power-play goal of the game -- a critical goal by Mike Modano after the Thrashers had pulled to 4-3.
Turco gave up a goal to Steve Rucchin only 42 seconds into the game.
"I looked up and it was in the back of the net," Stars coach Dave Tippett said.
Dallas answered Rucchin's early goal quickly. Matthew Barnaby scored on a slap shot only 2:15 into the game and the Stars took the lead with the two goals by Ribeiro, each on assists from Stefan.
After Dallas built a 3-1 advantage, Thrashers coach Bob Hartley pulled goalie Kari Lehtonen, who stopped four of seven shots, in favor of Johan Hedberg.
"I pulled Kari basically to turn the game around," Hartley said.
Stefan's first goal of the season about 12 minutes into the second period pushed the lead to 4-1.
"Stefan was the spark we needed tonight," Tippett said.
"It's a special feeling when you come back to your former team. I'm sure he wanted to come back and play well, and that's what he did."
Hossa's league-leading 16th goal with 6:48 left in the third period got the Thrashers within one. The comeback ended with Modano's power-play goal a minute later.
Turco moved to 5-0 in his career against the Thrashers.
Dallas was without RW Jere Lehtinen, who injured his leg in Wednesday night's loss to the New York Islanders. ... Dallas D Trevor Daley drew a 10-minute misconduct penalty and a 2-minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty late in the second period. ... The Stars are 8-3 on the road.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Arena: Philips Arena Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Referees: Stephane Auger, Michael McGeough Linesmen: Mark Pare, Anthony Sericolo
Attendance: 18,545 (100.0% full)
Team Stat Comparison
Power Play Goals
Power Play Opportunities
Shots on Goal
Steve Rucchin (4)
Assists: Ilya Kovalchuk, Scott Mellanby
Matthew Barnaby (1)
Assist: Sergei Zubov
Mike Ribeiro (4)
Assists: Patrik Stefan, Trevor Daley
Mike Ribeiro (5)
Assists: Patrik Stefan, Stephane Robidas
Patrik Stefan (1)
Assists: Matthew Barnaby, Jeff Halpern
Glen Metropolit (2)
Assists: Jon Sim, Niko Kapanen
Marian Hossa (16)
Mike Modano (9)
(Power Play) Assists: Sergei Zubov, Philippe Boucher