ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) _ Coming off their seventh division title in nine seasons, the Dallas Stars entered the 2006-07 campaign expecting tougher competition from their four rivals in the Pacific. They appear to be more than up to the challenge.
Sunday night's 4-3 shootout victory over the Anaheim Ducks improved Dallas' record to 5-0. The best start in franchise history was 6-0 in 1996-97, and the Stars can equal that Tuesday night at San Jose when they conclude a four-game swing through California.
``Everybody's added a key guy or two to their team. And the way the league is now, there's so much talent spread out that it's probably going to come down to the last two weeks,'' said Dallas center Mike Modano, one of four players left from that '96-97 club.
After consecutive 4-1 wins in Los Angeles, Dallas had less than 24 hours to prepare for their first meeting with Ducks about 35 miles down the freeway. Fatigue may have set in during the third period, when the Stars allowed Anaheim to pepper Marty Turco with 16 shots and rally from a 3-1 deficit with goals from Scott Niedermayer and Andy McDonald.
``Everybody goes through stretches like this in the schedule, and this is what we live with in the Pacific Division,'' coach Dave Tippitt said. ``We have a lot of travel, but fortunately we've been sitting out in L.A. for a couple of days. It's good to get as many as we can out of the way while we're out here.''
Sunday was the second of 12 dates on the NHL calendar this season in which only one game was scheduled.
Zubov and Antti Miettinen scored power-play goals in the second period and Niklas Hagman also scored for Dallas. Zubov and Jussi Jokinen connected on both of Dallas' shots in the shootout against Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who replaced Ilya Bryzgalov in net after Hagman's goal gave the Stars a 2-1 lead at 8:40 of the second period.
Bryzgalov, who had three consecutive shutouts in the playoffs last May, came in 0-3 lifetime against Dallas. In his only other start this season, he made 34 saves in a 2-1 win at Phoenix.
``I don't like short-side goals, and they had two go in on the short side,'' Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. ``I felt we were flat as a group, and I thought it would help our composure.''
The Stars limited Anaheim to four shots on net in the second period, but Niedermayer converted a pass from his brother Rob with 10:16 left in regulation, and McDonald got the equalizer with just 18.3 seconds on the clock when Chris Pronger's long slap shot deflected off his leg and into the net.
``The big thing we have to look at is the way we played in the second period,'' Scott Niedermayer said. ``I mean, to play a great team like Dallas and not come out and do the things we want to do, it was disappointing. It took them a little longer than 60 minutes, but they made us pay.''
Todd Marchant had a short-handed goal for the Ducks, who were coming off a six-round shootout loss to the New York Islanders on Wednesday night. Anaheim has yet to allow a first-period goal this season (54 shots) and has scored the first goal in each of its first five games (3-0-2).
``You can't be too happy losing shootouts,'' McDonald said. ``It's a skill, and we have to improve on it so we can get those extra points when we have the opportunity.''
Nine different players had points for Dallas, including Modano, whose assist on Zubov's 5-on-3 goal was his 700th in the NHL. Through the first five games, 11 different players have scored goals for the Stars and 17 different players have recorded points.
``Everybody feels like they're a part of the team. Everybody's contributing and having an impact on the game, and that's been a positive thing for our club,'' Modano said. ``That's what we've been looking for the last few years _ that depth with four lines and the ability to throw as much as we can at teams, which makes it tough to play against us.''
Giguere gave up Miettinen's goal at 17:10 of the second, which put Dallas up 3-1 with 5 seconds left on Shane O'Brien's hooking penalty. Marchant blocked a shot from close range by Brenden Morrow and the puck ricocheted to Miettinen, who had plenty of net to shoot with Giguere scrambling to get back in position.
``We played two good periods of hockey against a divisional rival and a hockey club that dominated us last year,'' Carlyle said. ``The positive is that we were down two and found a way to get back in the game. There's no quit in this group.''