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Marathon victory lands Dallas Stars in NHL West Finals

DALLAS — Marty Turco was stopping two games’ worth of pucks on one end of the ice, giving the Dallas Stars every chance to take this series. He just needed a savior on the other end.

He got it; and it’s no surprise that it was the captain.

Turco stopped a whopping 61 shots, and Brenden Morrow scored a power-play goal midway through the fourth overtime as the Stars beat the Sharks 2-1 in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals on Sunday night.

The Stars took the series 4-2, and advance to the conference finals for the first time since 2000. They travel to Detroit to open the conference finals against the Red Wings on Thursday.

On a night when the Stars needed their biggest players to come through, the top guys didn’t disappoint. Turco was masterful in goal, stalling 61of 62 opportunities, many in amazing fashion.

And Morrow? Well, he was just Morrow. He played 51 minutes and had 19 hits, including a jarring one on Milan Michalek that sent the Sharks’ left wing out of the game.

Then there was his game-winner. The Stars got a power play midway through the fourth overtime when Brian Campbell was whistled for tripping. Morrow was in his usual spot in front of the net when Stephane Robidas passed to him. A fairly wide-open Morrow just flicked it in at the 9:03 mark of the fourth overtime, igniting a raucous celebration.

“I was pretty ticked off about Game 5, but it was nice to get that one and close them out,” said Morrow, who was denied twice on Friday in San Jose. “Marty stole this one for us and we all were rewarded with the victory.”

Coach Dave Tippett said the game-winning hero was an appropriate one.

“As fitting as anything I’ve ever seen in sports, it’s that Brenden Morrow got the winning goal,” Tippett said. “I know we talked about the games being so close, and asking guys to give us 5-10 percent more. Then I look at Brenden and say, ‘I’m asking 5-10 percent more from this guy?’ It’s just fitting that he got the goal.”Turco agreed.

“We used to kid him about his total length of distance from the net on goals scored. We’re just happy that he actually directed it in with his stick this time,” said Turco, referring to one of Morrow’s second goal in Game 5. “To say he’s just a warrior is an understatement. That’s vintage Brenden.”

And Turco’s performance made it all possible. As much as he extended himself, Turco was feeling pretty good at the end of this one.

“Do I look tired?” he said. “I’m not going to say any is more memorable than this one. When they come barreling down and you think of how bad you want it, it’s not hard to focus. It was 99 percent fun tonight.”

Tippett said, “I don’t even know how many saves Marty made tonight, but it was a lot. It was a tremendous game.”

The Stars got the best from their best on Sunday night. The road doesn’t get easier with Detroit looming. But the Stars are feeling the confidence and have fully embraced the team concept. And, of course, their fearless leader has been just that.

“Nobody gave us a chance against Anaheim, nobody gave us a chance against San Jose. Those guys believed in there,” Tippett said. “It’s like Brenden was saying, ‘Come on, jump on my back and we’re going.’ Their will and effort is just phenomenal.”