Stars 5, Thrashers 4, OT

Thursday, March 20th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ATLANTA (AP) -- The Dallas Stars had lost three straight entering Wednesday's game. The one-time leaders in the Western Conference seemed destined for a deeper slide in the standings after two periods.

"I think that puts us in desperation mode," Dallas coach Dave Tippett said after the Stars beat the Atlanta Thrashers 5-4 in overtime. "It was good to see that."

Trailing 3-1, the Stars rallied to take the lead before Dany Heatley's goal forced the extra session. Mike Modano's goal off a faceoff 2:24 into overtime made the Stars victorious.

The Stars pulled within a point of Detroit in the West.

Heatley's goal with 35 seconds left in regulation helped the Thrashers overcome a three-goal third period by Dallas. But Modano deflected a pass from Phillipe Boucher, putting it past Pasi Nurminen for the Stars' sixth 40-win season in seven years.

Scott Young scored two goals, and Jere Lehtinen added his 30th of the season for Dallas, which came from two goals down in the third period to take a 4-3 lead.

"That could be a very important point in two weeks," Young said. "We hadn't felt good about ourselves in a little bit, and I think the way we won this was big."

The Stars snapped a three-game losing streak and avoided their fifth loss in seventh games. Atlanta lost for the seventh time in seven games against Dallas. It was the first time Atlanta earned a point against the Stars.

Lehtinen gave Dallas the lead with 4:51 left in the third. Young scored both of his goals on power plays.

Nurminen earned his second assist in three games on Atlanta's first goal. He made an outlet pass to Heatley, who skated to the right circle and passed to Mark Hartigan. Hartigan cut between the circles and scored over the right shoulder of goalie Ron Tugnutt.

"Offensively we played probably one of our best games of the season," Atlanta coach Bob Hartley said. "We did have a few bad reads that turned into goals for the Stars, but overall I am pleased with the effort, and it's going to be a good lesson for our young team."

Frantisek Kaberle's seventh goal came on a slap shot past Tugnutt's right shoulder with 5:39 gone in the second period after Heatley's pass from the right boards.

"It ticked off somebody," Tugnutt said. "It was coming right at my chest and the next thing I knew it was by me."

Dallas cut it to 2-1 when Young scored with a straight-on shot from beyond the circles.

Tony Hrkac pushed the lead back to two with an unassisted goal with 3:57 left in the second. Young's second goal came with 14:11 left in the third, and Stephane Robidas tied it at 11:11.

"When you're down 3-1 going into the third, that's pretty big," Tugnutt said.

Notes: The Thrashers recalled forward Zdenek Blatney from Chicago of the AHL to fill the roster spot of Patrik Stefan. Stefan will miss the remainder of the season because of a fractured right ankle sustained Monday in a win over Columbus. ... The Thrashers surpassed their franchise record with 61 points ... Hartigan's first-period goal ended a string of 26 straight scoreless power plays for Atlanta -- covering six games. ... The Stars have at least one power-play goal in 11 of 14 games.