Series (Game 1 of 2)

Dallas leads 2-0

Game 1: Sunday, December 23rd
Game 2: Wednesday, January 2nd

Stars 4

(16-11-3, 41 pts)

Jets 1

(7-22-3, 21 pts)

7:00 PM ET, December 23, 2001

Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia

1 2 3 T
DAL 1 3 4
WPG 1 0 1

Top Skaters

Dallas: J. Nieuwendyk - 2 A, 6 SOG, +1

Winnipeg: T. Kallio - 1 G, 1 SOG,

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.

Pat Verbeek

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 period.

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 understand."

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.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press