Falling Stars look to regroup

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

DALLAS -- Didn't you guys used to be the Dallas Stars?

You'd never know it from the cellar-dwelling company they'd been keeping this season prior to last night's 4-3 win over the Oilers, but the Stars were two wins away from advancing to the Stanley Cup final last year.

Now ... dead last in the Western Conference.

It's falling apart on a lot of fronts, starting with goalie Marty Turco, whose .866 save percentage and 3.64 GAA are worst in the NHL among starters.

They don't have much choice but to keep riding him and hope he pulls out of it.

"For us to move forward, Marty has to play, it's as simple as that," head coach Dave Tippett said. "We're way past let's pull him out for a game and see if that motivates him. He's just got to get the job done."

They're also taking a big hit on the injury front, with Sergei Zubov, Brenden Morrow, Steve Ott, Jere Lehtinen and Joel Lundqvist out. Rookie phenom Fabian Brunnstrom, who scored a hat-trick in his first NHL game, has only scored three more in the 19 game since.

All of these woes have co-GM Brett Hull scoffing at suggestions that Tippett's on the hot seat.

"Half the team is hurt and we're supposed to judge him at a time like this?" said Hull. "He's a good coach and we're not going to lose a good coach by making a rash decision."

If the script sounds familiar to Oilers fans, it's because they've seen this movie before. Edmonton went to the final in 2006 and were struck down by injuries and inconsistency the following year and never did find their stride.

"You can't take the next season for granted," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "You think you're going to pick up where you left off but that's not always the case. Players who were playing at the top of their game and the following season the expectation is that they're going to start there, but it doesn't always happen. That can put you back."

He's seen enough of the Stars to believe they will turn it around.

"You know that the level is there, you just have to try and get your team to that level and make up a bunch of games in a hurry. They're a good solid team that aren't individually playing at the same level they were last year."

Mike Modano, who scored yesterday's 4-3 winner, says all they can do is grind their way out of this.

"You just have to push through it," said Modano.


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