By Allan Muir, SI.com
All of a sudden, March 13 and January 2 don't much matter.
Neither do any of the other nine losses suffered in Detroit by Marty Turco.
After going 0-9-2 in 11 decisions at Joe Louis Arena, the Dallas netminder picked a most opportune moment to break his career-long losing streak, stopping 38 Detroit shots to lead his team to a thrilling 2-1 victory over the Red Wings and close the series gap to three games to two.
And with that, the Stars, who had played 99 games this season including Saturday afternoon's contest, will get a chance play 100 on Monday night in Dallas. At this point, does anyone want to bet against No. 101?
This win, as they tend to this time of year, came as the result of a remarkable team effort by the gritty Stars, who went into the Joe for a win-or-clean-out-the-lockers game and earned a reprieve by imposing their ugly, tight checking style on the Wings.
It was a game of unlikely heroes for Dallas, with Mike Ribeiro, the team's leading scorer in the regular season (and weighing in at about 160 pounds), leading the assault with four hits. There was Toby Petersen, who spent 63 games with Iowa of the AHL, shutting down Henrik Zetterberg and playing 22:33, second only to Brenden Morrow among Dallas forwards. And there was Steve Ott, bumped up to top line with Morrow and Ribeiro after being a fourth line non-factor early in the series, responding with the kind of nasty, physical game that makes him one of the most aggravating opponents in the league.
There was third-pairing defender Trevor Daley, who opened the scoring after taking a through-the-legs pass from Brad Richards, and checker Joel Lundqvist, who finished a nifty two-on-one in the second for the game winner.
But as good as they were, this game was all about Turco setting the tone early and then refusing to allow Detroit a sliver of hope.
From the onset, this was about the netminder re-establishing himself as an important player in this series. Sounds obvious, but the confidence, the swagger that was so evident today simply wasn't there in the three losses.
It started with an amazing cross-crease sliding save in the first minute as Valterri Filppula gave Daniel Cleary a wide-open chance on a three-on-two rush. Later, there was an impressive stop on Nick Lidstrom who flew down the wing all alone, and Tomas Holmstrom, who found himself open in front of Turco, but failed to find an opening.
The only goal he gave up on the afternoon was to Jiri Hudler, who stood uncontested to Turco's right as he banged in his own rebound on the power play.
But that was all the Wings could manage, and made this the second consecutive game in which the West's best offense was held to a single goal.
And he didn't just shut the door. Turco was one of the game's offensive stars, outscoring Zetterberg and Pavel Datsuyk combined. It was his break out pass up the boards that led directly to the Daley goal, and he earned the only assist on Lundqvist's marker with a beautiful up-ice dish that took advantage of a poor line change and caught the Wings defense flat-footed.
In essence, this was Turco being Turco, taking care of dump-ins to thwart incoming forwards and using his puck skills break through Detroit's defensive scheme. And when he plays like that, he's awfully tough to beat.
Even if they fall short, these Stars have proven they could respond in the face of adversity. The question now is, can the Red Wings? The frustration that was so obvious on the Dallas bench earlier in the series now weighs heavily on Detroit, a team that unexpectedly finds itself climbing back on a plane headed for Dallas for Monday's Game 6 and wondering what it has to do to finish this thing.
Momentum will certainly be a big player in that contest. But for the Stars to make it to Game 7, Turco will have to be even bigger.
Allan Muir is the senior editor of Beckett Hockey magazine and serves as the NHL's official scorer for Dallas Stars home games.