Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 2/9/12
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Jamie Benn scored two goals and Kari Lehtonen had 26 saves to make an early lead stand up in the Dallas Stars' 4-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night. Alex Goligoski and Stephane Robidas each had a goal and an assist, and Mike Ribeiro added two assists for the Stars, who began the night 12th in the Western Conference but just two points behind eighth-place Minnesota. Dallas led 3-0 barely 21 minutes in and then hung on behind Lehtonen to win its fourth in the last six games. Vinny Prospal and Rick Nash scored, and Fedor Tyutin and Derick Brassard had two assists apiece for Columbus, which was trying for its first three-game winning streak of the season. Columbus had several chances to get the tying goal in the final period. With 6 minutes left, Jeff Carter, who had goals in his last two games, hit the post on a hard shot from the left hash. Tyutin was just wide with another big slap shot with just over a minute remaining and Lehtonen smothered R.J. Umberger's redirect attempt with 29 seconds left. The Stars wasted little time in taking control, scoring twice in the opening 4 minutes. Benn opened the scoring after a giveaway by Columbus' Samuel Pahlsson handed him the puck in the high slot. Benn wheeled and flicked a rising forehand shot into the top right corner of the goal for his 16th of the season. Then the Blue Jackets lost a player and allowed a goal on the same play. The Stars were swarming when Tomas Vincour's hard slap shot hit Columbus defenseman Marc Methot on the right side of his face. The puck dropped almost straight down -- where Goligoski was waiting to jam in the rebound. Bleeding profusely, Methot skated away unaided, pressing a towel to his face to staunch the flow. He did not return. Still on the power play to start the second period, the Stars pushed the lead to three when Robidas' high-velocity shot from the right point got past goalie Curtis Sanford, who couldn't see the puck due to congestion in front of the net supplied by Loui Eriksson. The Blue Jackets, 24th in the NHL with a man advantage, scored twice in the second period -- both on power plays. Tyutin's lead pass was tape-to-tape for Prospal who only had to put his stick on the ice to redirect the puck into the net. Prospal was playing his first game after signing a one-year, 2.5 million contract on Wednesday. Nash cut the lead to a goal less than 4 minutes later. Brassard saucered another perfect pass from the right dot to Nash, who was all alone at the left corner of the goal. He faced almost an empty net as Lehtonen had trouble recovering, and Nash scored his 18th of the season. Benn closed the scoring on an empty-net goal with less than a second left. NOTES: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was at the game, coming in hours after the official announcement of the 2013 Winter Classic between Detroit and Toronto at the University of Michigan's "Big House" ... Just 18 days before the trade deadline, scouts from Tampa Bay, St. Louis, Chicago, Vancouver, Montreal, New Jersey, Detroit, Ottawa, Nashville and San Jose were at the game. ... The Stars improved to 16-0-0 when leading after two periods, tied for first in the league. The last time they lost a game in regulation when leading going into the third period was Oct. 31, 2009. Since then they are 57-0-5. ... Sanford finished with 31 saves.
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