Dallas clinched the Pacific Division crown Thursday night with a 5-3 victory over the second-place Anaheim Mighty Ducks. But the accomplishment was tempered somewhat by the injury to the Stars' captain and leading scorer.
"It wasn't a good feeling for anybody," Stu Barnes said. "As a friend and teammate, you want him to be OK and healthy and in the lineup. Who knows what's going to happen? But obviously he's a huge part of our team, he's our leader, and we want him in there."
Dallas was leading 4-2 when Modano got tangled up with Anaheim forward Jonathan Hedstrom near the Stars' bench while trying to play the puck and crumpled to the ice with 7:12 left in the second period, clutching his knee and writhing in pain. The six-time All-Star tops the franchise list in every major offensive category.
"When any player goes down you get a little scare, but it's not bad at all," coach Dave Tippett said. "He just tweaked an old injury. When I talked to him between periods, he seemed to respond well, so I don't think it's serious at all. I just talked to him and he was planning on skating tomorrow, so there's nothing to be concerned about. I don't think there's much to evaluate."
Modano has missed only 29 games over the last seven seasons, and only one this season.
"We're obviously glad that it's nothing too serious with Mike, but we'll just see how he is Saturday. That's a decision we'll make at game time," Tippett said. "We do have some healthy bodies around, so we're not going to take a chance with anybody and put anybody in a vulnerable situation. But that being said, we want to continue to play well as a team -- and he's a big part of our team."
Antti Miettinen and Jussi Jokinen scored power-play goals less than 1½ minutes apart in the second period and Niko Kapanen had two goals, one into an empty net. Niclas Hagman had a short-handed goal for the Stars.
The victory was the Stars' 50th, one shy of the franchise record set in 1998-99 when they won their only Stanley Cup.
"It's something our players can be proud of," Tippett said of the division crown. "What it does is guarantee you're in the playoffs and gives you home ice for the first round. Anytime you win a division title, those are the perks that go with it, and it's a feather in your cap.
"There's a lot of tradition in this organization, and expectations are very high," Tippett added. "The players who come in here deal with those expectations in a positive way, and it pushes people forward. Success is something that is earned, and our players have that kind of mentality."
Jokinen triggered a three-goal second period during a two-man advantage, after Niedermayer and brother Scott received hooking penalties 32 seconds apart.
Sergei Zubov's 35-foot slap shot was wide of the net, but Jokinen played the carom off the end boards and tucked his 17th goal inside the right post before goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere could scramble over.
"You can't give a good team like that 5-on-3s," McDonald said. "We didn't get the win, but we played hard and had enough chances to win. You look around the room after the game and everyone's disappointed with the loss, but nobody felt like we were outplayed, or that they took it to us."
Miettinen gave Dallas a 3-2 edge at 4:43 of the period with a one-timer from just inside the blue line. Kapanen gave the Stars a two-goal lead before Anaheim closed to 4-3 on Lupul's 25-foot wrist shot from the right circle two minutes before intermission.
- Modano got an assist on Jokinen's goal and has 69 points and 48 assists in 56 career games against Anaheim -- the most points by any opposing player.
- The Ducks lost three times to Dallas during their franchise record-tying eight-game losing streak in November. Since that skid, they are 33-14-8.
- Dallas has allowed more than three goals only once in its last 17 games.
- The Ducks play their next five games on the road before returning to the Pond for the regular-season finale on Apr. 17 against Calgary.
- Dallas is 7-2-2 while RW Bill Guerin has been sidelined by a fractured orbital bone in his right eye. He is expected back in the lineup this weekend.