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Benn, Stars prevent Ducks from clinching first in West

by Curtis Zupke /

ANAHEIM -- Jamie Benn had a bit of lament in his voice, knowing that whatever individual achievement he attains this season won't outweigh the lack of team success.

Benn's late-season run is impressive, though, and he made it more interesting Wednesday with three assists to grab a share of the NHL scoring lead, helping the Dallas Stars prevent the Anaheim Ducks from clinching the top seed in the Western Conference for the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 4-0 win at Honda Center.

Benn has 83 points, tying him with John Tavares of the New York Islanders and Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins for the League lead. He has one more game to make his push for the Art Ross Trophy; Tavares and Crosby each play twice.

"I'd be lying to say it wasn't on my mind, but it wasn't really the trophy I was going for this year," Benn said. "I think the high expectations our team had this year; we kind of failed and obviously didn't make the playoffs. That was more our No. 1 goal."

The Ducks (50-24-7) needed to win in regulation or overtime to clinch the West but again looked out of sync with captain Ryan Getzlaf scratched for the second straight game to rest.

"We want to make sure he's 100 percent when he goes into the playoffs," said Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau, who wasn't sure if Getzlaf would play in the regular-season finale Saturday at the Arizona Coyotes.

Either way, Anaheim doesn't look like it's in playoff form.

"We've been talking about it for a while," said forward Corey Perry, who usually plays with Getzlaf. "We knew where we're at and we knew what we had to do, and it's very frustrating what we did tonight."

Benn was a big contributor to that frustration. He won the puck in the corner and assisted on Patrick Eaves' second goal at 11:34 of the third period for his 83rd point to grab a share of the scoring lead.

Benn has nine goals and 10 assists in his past 11 games for the Stars (40-31-10), who have been eliminated from playoff contention. They end their season at home against the Nashville Predators on Saturday wondering what might have been.

Jhonas Enroth made 19 saves for his fifth NHL shutout and helped Dallas finish the season by going 8-1-0 in its final nine road games.

"You hate looking back on games, but there's just a few early in the year that you wish you could have back," Benn said. "You look at the last month … we've played pretty good hockey. That's what frustrating. We know we're a good team when we play the right, and we can beat most teams in the League."

Anaheim's season has been marred by poor second periods, and Dallas continued the trend by scoring three times after a scoreless first period to take control of the game.

Vernon Fiddler tapped in a loose puck in the goalmouth at 2:04 after Shawn Horcoff's wraparound attempt, a possession that started with a blue-line turnover by Ducks defenseman Clayton Stoner.

Jordie Benn scored on a point shot at 8:11 with Eaves screening Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen. Eaves made it 3-0 at 11:25 with a 5-on-3 power-play goal, converting Jamie Benn's pass into the slot. After that, Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau called his timeout to address his team.

"It didn't seem like we had any energy or life," Boudreau said. "I wish I had an answer to why we were that bad after five days of rest.

"We should be able to create our own emotion. We're at home and we're playing in front of our fans. We lost the last game at home. There should be some sense of urgency, but there wasn't."

Dallas outshot Anaheim 19-6 in the period. The Ducks have been outscored 97-73 in the second period this season.

Jamie Benn got a secondary assist on Jordie Benn's goal; the Stars said it's the first time in the brothers' NHL careers that Jamie assisted on a goal by Jordie.

"It's about time he scored after I touched the puck," Jamie Benn said. "That only took 25 years. Probably the last time was junior, eight years ago."

Said Jordie Benn, "It would be cool if it happened more often, but if you're going to pick two guys to pass it to, me or [Tyler Seguin], everybody's going to pass it to Seguin. I'd pass it to [Seguin]."

Dallas right wing Valeri Nichushkin and defenseman Patrik Nemeth returned after they were healthy scratches in the previous game. Anaheim got forwards Tim Jackman, Matt Beleskey and Stoner back from injury.

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