The Dallas Stars have mastered the art of winning ugly.
Missing several key players, the Stars continued their climb up the Western Conference standings with Wednesday night's 2-1 victory over the expansion Atlanta Thrashers.
"That's been the trend this season," said Stars center Mike Modano, who notched his 21st goal late in the second period of a scoreless game. "It's been that way a lot. It's not a pretty style and there's not much flow to the game. It's a matter of getting the two points and surviving, finding a way to win."
Stars left wing Aaron Gavey joined the crowd in the trainer's room when he hyperextended a knee in the first period and did not return.
While Dallas continues to win, the Stars still struggle to find the net. Of their last seven victories, five have been by one goal.
Guy Carbonneau scored his seventh goal, the eventual game-winner at 11:16, while the Stars were short-handed. Blake Sloan's centering pass glanced off Carbonneau's skate, hit the helmet of Thashers defenseman Yannick Tremblay and went into the net.
Fernandez stopped 28 shots, 17 in the third period.
"They wanted to get shots from the point and crowd the net, but my defense helped me a lot by letting me see the shots," said Fernandez, who improved to 7-5-1. "Tonight we had no excuse. You've got to show up and get the two points."
Modano notched his 332nd career goal at 16:29 of the second, tying him with Dino Ciccarelli for second in franchise history. Brian Bellows leads with 342.
"There are only a handful of guys who've played their entire career with the team that drafted them, so I consider myself very fortunate," said Modano, who has five goals and four assists in his last six games. "Dino was a great player, so this is something I've been thinking about."
Modano brought the puck up center ice, passed to Brett Hull, and Hull sent it ahead to Modano, who lifted a shot over Norm Maracle from the lower edge of the right circle. Fernandez was credited with his first career assist on the goal.
"Brett drew two defensemen and that gave me some room," Modano said. "The goalie got over a little late and I was able to get it over him."
The Thrashers are 0-6-2-1 in their last nine games and have scored four goals in four games.
"Our guys continue to work hard," Atlanta coach Curt Fraser said. "I can't fault our team's effort. In the third period we had all the chances we needed. We've got to find the back of the net. One of these days we'll be rewarded."
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