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Associated Press
11/17/2006 11:06:06 PM


ATLANTA (AP) - Patrik Stefan played Friday night just like the Atlanta Thrashers expected him to when they made him the franchise's first draft pick in 1999.

The only twist: Stefan no longer plays for the Thrashers.

Stefan, traded to Dallas last summer, made the most of his return to Atlanta, getting his first goal and two assists of the season in the Stars' 5-3 win.

Mike Ribeiro scored two goals in the opening period for Dallas, which built a big lead and withstood the Thrashers' short-lived comeback attempt in the third period.

Stefan and defenceman Jaroslav Modry were traded to Dallas for centre Niko Kapanen and a draft pick on June 24.

Stefan had no points while appearing in only six games for the Stars before Friday night, but he was in top form for his big homecoming.

"I spent six years here that were very special, so I'm sure I had a little extra tonight," Stefan said. "But as soon as the puck drops it doesn't matter where you play."

Atlanta was left with its first three-game losing streak of the season and concerns about Marian Hossa, who needed help leaving the ice after crashing into the boards late in the game.

Hossa looked groggy as he sat slumped on the bench, but insisted he'll be ready for Saturday's game at Montreal.

"I'm going to be fine," Hossa said.

Marty Turco stopped 20 shots to help Dallas win for the ninth time in 10 games against Atlanta. The Stars have won each of their last five visits to Atlanta, but this win over the first-place Thrashers was the most impressive.

"They have a lot of skills," Ribeiro said of the Thrashers. "They stay out of the box. They can beat anyone."

The Thrashers drew only three minor penalties, including one by Ilya Kovalchuk in the third period that set up the only power-play goal of the game - a critical goal by Mike Modano after the Thrashers had pulled to 4-3.

Turco gave up a goal to Steve Rucchin only 42 seconds into the game.

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