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So Not Better Late Than Never

Marty Turco, a nation turns its sleepy eyes to you and says, "Dude, not again."

So tired. So very, very tired. And so are you if, like me, you stayed up until 2:32 a.m. to watch the Dallas Stars lose an epic, quadruple-overtime playoff hockey game to the Vancouver Canucks. I know, the Stars were gritty in coming back from down 4-2 late in the third period, and they were scrappy in forcing the sixth-longest game in NHL playoff history. But, as usual, there are multiple troubling signs with this team as spring springs.

Goalie Marty Turco -- serendaded all night with "Turco, you suck!" -- played well, but not great. If Dallas has to score five goals to win playoff games, this series will be a done deal by the time you file your taxes. Turco has now allowed three or more goals in 11 of his last 12 playoff games, which is just not acceptable. It's like Dirk Nowitzki failing to score 20 after regularly dropping in 30 in the regular season. Or Will Farrell giving us Blades of Glory, when we've gotten accustomed to Old School. But I digress. Must be the lack of sleep.

The Stars didn't play poorly. As is necessity in the playoffs, their grinders scored, and their scorers grinded. They fired an unfathomable 76 shots at Vancouver goalie Robert Luongo, including Stu Barnes hitting the crossbar in the middle of the second overtime. (At least I think I saw that. Hard to tell with only one eye half-open.) They missed their best chance in the second OT, failing to score with a 5-on-3 advantage when leading scorer Jere Lehtinen absolutely fanned on an open look from Luogono's porch. This, that, whatever.

Bottom line is the Stars, who made a habit of winning games like this when they won the Stanley Cup in 1999, are now losing them. As in, they've dropped eight of their last nine overtime playoff games. They have lots of reasons to be optimistic about Game 2 Friday night. But if Turco can't stop pucks early and the Stars can't score late, our sleepless nights will soon be ending. --Richie Whitt

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