DALLAS - Trevor Daley had a goal and an assist, Kari Lehtonen recorded his fifth shutout of the season, and the Dallas Stars clinched their first playoff berth since 2008 with a 3-0 victory against the St. Louis Blues on Friday night.
The Stars missed the post-season a franchise-record five straight seasons after never going more than one without a playoff trip since moving to Dallas in 1993. The longest previous drought was three seasons in Minnesota in the early 1970s.
St. Louis, outshot 40-22, dropped its fifth straight game for the first time since February of last year. The playoff-bound Blues also jeopardized their shot at the top seed in the Western Conference.
Daley, the only holdover from the team that lost to Detroit in the Western Conference finals six years ago, and Lehtonen were on the ice three years ago for a season-ending loss at Minnesota when Dallas just needed to win to move on.
Dallas' victory eliminated Phoenix in the race for the West's final playoff spot and kept the Stars from having to worry about a potential win-or-go-home game at the Coyotes on Sunday.
Daley put Dallas up 1-0 when he stole the puck during a series of St. Louis turnovers and raced ahead of everyone before beating Ryan Miller on the glove side early in the second period.
Tyler Seguin's team-leading 37th goal came on the power play 10 seconds after the Blues' Dmitrij Jaskin was called for hooking. Daley sent a pass to Jamie Benn, who zipped the puck through the crease to an open Seguin for an easy shot past Miller.
After Ryan Garbutt tipped in Alex Goligoski's shot from the point in the third period of the home finale, the last 15 minutes were basically a celebration for the sellout crowd that included a fan with a No. 99 jersey that read "Stanley" — a reference to the franchise's only Stanley Cup title in 1999 when the hockey playoffs were a rite of spring in North Texas.
The Blues knew T.J. Oshie would be sidelined after he took a hit to the head that resulted in a four-game suspension for Minnesota's Mike Rupp. They also ended up missing former Stars captain Brenden Morrow, who injured his foot in practice before the Wild game, and Vladimir Sobotka and Derek Roy, who got hurt during that game.
St. Louis didn't get its first power play until the third period and couldn't convert on two chances with the man advantage in the final 12 minutes.
After the Stars killed the last power play, the crowd stood and cheered for the final two minutes, counting down the last few seconds.
NOTES: Taylor Lipsett, a Dallas-area resident who won a 2014 Paralympic gold medal with the U.S. in Sochi, was honoured before the game. ... The Stars signed popular broadcasters Ralph Strangis and Daryl Reaugh to contract extensions. Strangis, the play-by-play voice, has been with the franchise since it was still in Minnesota, and colour analyst Reaugh is in his 18th season with the team. The call from Strangis and Reaugh is on TV and radio. ... Because of the rash of injuries, the Blues recalled Adam Cracknell, Keith Aucoin and Ty Rattie from their Chicago AHL affiliate.
Follow Schuyler Dixon on Twitter at https://twitter.com/apschuyler
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