Benn leads Stars past Flames

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 24, 2012
Jamie Benn scored twice, Kari Lehtonen made 35 saves, and the Dallas Stars beat the Calgary Flames 4-1 on Saturday in a matchup of Western Conference playoff contenders. Michael Ryder also scored for the Stars, who improved to 87 points and are in the middle of a six-team scramble along with the Flames (83 points) for one of the final two playoff spots. The Stars had moved into the Pacific Division lead with a 10-0-1 run, but they'd lost three of their previous four to tumble out of the top spot in the division and hurt their playoff hopes. Brenden Morrow tapped in an empty-netter at 18:32 of the third period to clinch the win for Dallas. Mike Cammalleri scored and Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 16 shots for the Flames, who had lost their previous three games in overtime or shootouts. Dallas wrapped up a 2-2 homestand and begins a four-game trip Monday night in Calgary, the next game for both teams. Calgary, 5-2-4 in its past 11 games, completed an 0-1-2 road trip. Benn got his team off to a fast start at 1:37 of the first period, taking a pass from Adam Burish, skating from behind the net and stuffing a shot past Kiprusoff on Dallas' first shot of the game. The Stars got a fortunate bounce at 3:03 of the opening period when a shot by Calgary's Blake Comeau banged off the right post, bailing out Lehtonen. Ryder made it 2-0 at 7:17 of the first, firing his career-best 33rd goal by Kiprusoff from the right circle. The Flames grabbed some momentum when Cammalleri notched his 16th from the right circle at 12:27 of the first period. Cammalleri had missed the previous nine games with an upper-body injury. Calgary built a 14-6 edge in shots in a scoreless second period. Benn scored on a one-timer from the slot off a Steve Ott pass to give Dallas a two-goal edge at 16:27, Benn's 24th of the season. The Flames continue to struggle on offense, having managed six goals in their past five games. Notes: The Stars paid tribute to former D Karlis Skrastins prior to the game. Skrastins was a member of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team when the Latvian native died in a plane crash in Russia last September en route to a Kontinental League game in Minsk. His widow, Zane, and three daughters participated in the ceremony. The Stars have been wearing No. 37 patches on their uniforms this season in honor of Skrastins, who played two full seasons in Dallas. ... D Mark Fistric (abdominal strain) was out for Dallas. ... The Flames were without C Mikael Backlund (shoulder), D T.J. Brodie (upper body) and D Cory Sarich (upper body).
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