Turco sets tone early in Stars' victory


ATLANTA (AP) -- With 16 family members in the stands, Pat Verbeek
didn't want to be remembered as the guy who was in the penalty box
when the other team scored.

So Verbeek, whose wife's family lives in the Atlanta area,
atoned for his mistake by scoring the go-ahead goal and setting up
another in the third period as the Dallas Stars defeated the
Atlanta Thrashers 4-1 Sunday night.

The veteran forward took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that
led to Tomi Kallio's game-tying goal early in the second period.

"Well certainly I wasn't very happy with how it turned out,"
Verbeek said. "Once you cost your team a goal, you always want to
come back and chip in any way you can."

Verbeek did just that by skating across the high slot and
beating Atlanta goalie Milan Hnilicka with a slap shot for his
sixth goal, a power-play tally just 44 seconds into the third

Less than four minutes later, Verbeek caused a turnover in the
neutral zone that Pierre Turgeon picked up and fed to a streaking
Kirk Muller, who scored his fourth of the season to make it 3-1.

"That type of play is a big part of our style of play,"
Verbeek said. "If we aren't playing that way, we're not being
effective. We have to play with energy and tenacity."

Of course, the play wasn't so thrilling on the other bench.

Shean Donovan's turnover weighed heavily on the mind of Atlanta
coach Curt Fraser, whose team is winless in eight games (0-6-2) at
Philips Arena since Nov. 19.

"It's not only frustrating -- it's amazing," Fraser said. "We
have shown videos, worked it on the boards and told people a
hundred times to turn right ... and they still turn left.

"As a coach, I don't get it. They just aren't absorbing it.
Everyone in the building can see why our team has problems:
turnovers. Why do the players continue to do this? It's hard to

Jamie Langenbrunner made it 4-1 with his seventh goal at 9:08 of
the third.

Marty Turco started for Dallas and won his fifth consecutive
decision. He set the tone early in the first with stellar glove
saves on Mike Weaver and Andreas Karlsson. He also stuffed rookie
Ilya Kovalchuk at the doorstep after a crossing pass from Dany
Heatley just moments after Atlanta had scored to tie it.

Dallas defenseman Sergei Zubov made it 1-0 late in the first,
scoring his 100th career goal and seventh of the season.

The Thrashers answered on the power play early in the second
when Tomi Kallio skated in from the corner along the goal line
before stepping out and lifting one over Turco. It was Kallio's
first goal in nearly a month, spanning six games played and six
games missed with a concussion.

Dallas, 4-0 against Atlanta, is 9-4 over its past 13 games to
move four points behind Pacific Division-leading San Jose.

"We really need the points now," Verbeek said. "We're making
some strides on some teams ahead of us in the standings and this
could become a big part of the schedule for us."

Atlanta has the fewest points in the league (21) and has allowed
a league-high 137 goals, 26 more than second-place Washington.

Game notes
Atlanta defenseman David Harlock was scratched after having plastic
surgery on his ear that was hit with a shot Friday in Carolina. ...
Atlanta center Bob Corkum missed his second game after members of his
family were involved in an auto accident in Pennsylvania. Corkum's
son, Cain, 7, took 200 stitches in his head but is expected to be
fine. ... Atlanta outshot Dallas 32-25, but Dallas improved to a
league-best 10-2-2-2 when having fewer shots. The Thrashers are
0-7-1 when they outshoot or are even with an opponent. It was only
the second time in 12 games that Atlanta outshot its opponent.