Turco gets sixth shutout, nears goals-against record


DALLAS (AP) -- The Dallas Stars are doing some serious scoreboard
watching as they pursue the NHL's best record and home ice
throughout the playoffs.

Marty Turco made 18 saves for his sixth shutout of the season as
the Stars moved into a tie for the NHL's best record with a 3-0
victory Monday night over the Buffalo Sabres.

''You're always watching,'' Stars coach Dave Tippett said. ''We
feel we can finish first. We give ourselves a chance by winning
these last games.''

The Pacific Division-champion Stars have 107 points, one more
than Detroit in the race for home ice throughout the Western
Conference playoffs. Vancouver, the Northwest Division leader, also
is in the running for best conference record with 103 points.

The Stars pulled even with Eastern Conference leader Ottawa in
the race for the NHL's top record.

Dallas, 5-0-0-2 in its past seven, has two regular-season games
remaining, at home against Anaheim and Nashville. Detroit has three
games left.

Turco, 4-0-0-1 since returning from an 18-game injury absence,
improved to 29-10-10 on a night when tight defense limited
Buffalo's scoring chances.

Turco reduced his goals-against average to a league-low 1.77.
Since World War II, 1.77 has been the league's best goals-against -- done by Chicago's Tony Esposito in 1971-72, and Toronto's Al
Rollins in 1950-51.

If Turco allows three goals or less and plays in 120 minutes
over the final two games of the season, he'll better the mark.

''There are only two more games, so tonight we had a stepping
stone and a solid effort,'' Turco said.

Martin Biron stopped 18 shots for the Sabres, whose season-best,
four-game winning streak ended.

The Sabres, eliminated from playoff contention, were unable to
generate much offense.

''The scoring chances were 7-7, maybe the lowest total I've ever
seen,'' Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. ''There was nothing going on
for either team.''

The Stars got off to a fast start with goals from Richard
Matvichuk and Brenden Morrow in the opening 9:44.

Matvichuk's first of the season came on a shot from the right
point that got through Biron's pads at 7:02 after Mike Modano won a
faceoff. The goal was Matvichuk's first since March 20, 2002.

''I'm not out there to score goals, but it was nice to get the
monkey off my back,'' Matvichuk said. ''We played our game, which
is defensive hockey.''

Morrow added his career-high 21st on a deflection of Derian
Hatcher's shot from the right point at 9:44.

''We wanted to get off to a good start and not let them get any
momentum,'' Morrow said. ''It was an ugly game.''

Rob DiMaio added an empty-net goal with 1:00 left, his 10th.

Game notes
Stars defenseman Phillippe Boucher sustained what Tippett described
as an ''upper body contusion'' in the first period. He didn't
return. ... The Sabres are 1-7 in their last eight regular-season
games in Dallas. ... Turco has 11 career shutouts, averaging a
shutout every nine starts over his career. ... Matvichuk's last
game-winning goal was on Dec. 22, 2001 at Columbus.