Stars in alignment

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:41 AM ET

It's like they never left.

Like there was no locked-out season. No new collective bargaining agreement and no failed stretch drive in 2004.

It's like we all woke up from some crazy dream in time for Game 5 of an Edmonton Dallas playoff series.

It was fast-paced, hard hitting thrill-a-minute stuff, full of intensity, skill and ill will.

And Dallas won by a goal.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

"This is pure fun," said Sergei Zubov after the Stars 4-3 shootout victory last night at Rexall Place. "Every time we come here as a player I have lots of fun. This is what hockey is about."

GETTING REPETITIVE

The only thing different about this one was the shootout, and even that's getting a little repetitive as the Stars improved to a perfect 9-0 in tie-breakers this season.

Sergei Zubov and Jussi Jokinen sifted two by Edmonton reliever Mike Morrison, who came off the bench stone cold to face the best shootout team in the NHL.

"Those two guys are huge for us in that point of the game," said Stars goalie Marty Turco, who stuffed Ales Hemsky and Ryan Smyth for the win.

"They have a whole arsenal of moves. They have patience, poise and the ability to finish so it's no surprise the success they're having."

Zubov is six-for-nine in shootout attempts this season and Jokinen, eight-for-eight coming in, scored a second period penalty shot on Ty Conklin and then used the exact same move against Morrison to keep his record perfect.

"If Conklin would have stayed in I would have tried something else, but it was a new goalie so I decided to do the same thing," grinned Jokinen, who doesn't know when the incredible run will end.

"The pressure gets higher all the time, when is he going to miss. But when I go out there I feel confident, I enjoy the situation.

"It's a great battle, you against the goalie, with 20,000 people, if you're on the road, booing you, I enjoy it."

With Zubov and Jokinen racking up goals like a pinball machine, Stars coach Dave Tippett doesn't have to spend much time on his shootout lineup.

"Those two are really easy," he said. "We've shuffled some third guys around but a lot of the time they don't even get to shoot."

The longer Jokinen's streak goes, the more Tippett marvels at the rookie's fortitude.

"Coming into a very hostile building, every time he touches the puck everybody is against him and he's coming up with goals. It shows the character and the will of the kid. He's a good player for us right now."

'TOUGH' FOR MORRISON

What did Dallas make of the goaltending change? Turco, for one, is glad he wasn't in Morrison's skates.

"He was in a tough position, cold or not, with those two guys. It's pretty unfair. That's a responsibility I would rather not have, but his success in shootouts has been fairly good this year."

Tippett has seen it done before.

"When I was in the IHL there were a few teams that used to do that," said Tippett. "Some goaltenders just have a knack for breakaways and it can give your team a little bit of a boost. You have to know your personnel before you can make those changes and obviously Craig thinks Morrison is the guy on breakaways."


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