Stars coach Marc Cawford noticed a difference in the atmosphere at the AAC on Friday night. The crowd was pumped. The team was pumped. The reason: Mike Modano's return.
"I don't want to sound corny, but there was a lot of love out there for Mike Modano tonight," Crawford said.
And Modano's line was the best line on the ice. He, Jamie Benn and Jere Lehtinen combined for three goals and five assists.
"(Modano) had a great game," Benn said. "He had a lot of energy. It all started with Modano."
The crowd gave Modano a long ovation when his milestone 800th assist was announced over the P.A. Modano gave the crowd a wave.
"There's been a lot of special moments here that I've been able to share with the fans, and that was certainly one of them," Modano said.
Some other thoughts:
*Crawford said he thought Friday's third period might have been the Stars' best period since the Olympic break. Dallas had blown a 3-0 lead by allowing three second-period goals. But in the third, the Stars scored three more goals and killed two Edmonton penalties. "We played an almost flawless third period," Crawford said.
*Kari Lehtonen had a solid game in goal, stopping 25 of 28 shots to improve to 5-3 on the season. He's now won five of his last seven starts. Crawford said he's leaning toward starting Lehtonen again Saturday in St. Louis, which would be his first back-to-back starts since he had a pair of back surgeries.
*Mark Fistric's amazing plus-minus stat just keeps getting better. He was a plus-3 on Friday, moving him to plus-24 for the season. The next best Star is Brian Sutherby at plus-7. Fistric's defense partner, Trevor Daley, was a plus-4 on Friday.
*The Stars' slim playoff hopes just refuse to die. The Dallas win staved off elimination for at least one more night. Calgary's 2-1 win over Colorado means Dallas is five points back with four games remaining on the Stars' schedule. Calgary also has four games left, while Colorado has five.