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Benn's two goals help Stars edge Sabres

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- Jamie Benn scored two goals and had an assist, Patrick Eaves had a goal and an assist and Cody Eakin scored the game-winner with 3:14 remaining to help the Dallas Stars to a 4-3 win against the Buffalo Sabres at American Airlines Center on Monday.

Benn scored late in the first period and again in the second. Kari Lehtonen made 25 saves for Dallas (35-28-10), which has won three straight but trails the Winnipeg Jets by eight points for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.

"The only thing we can do is try to win out. Take it a game at a time, but try to win out," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "We know where we're at, and it's tough. But we're going to give it everything we've got."

Brian Gionta scored two goals and Matt Moulson a goal and an assist for Buffalo (20-46-7), which lost its third in a row.

"They have (Tyler) Seguin. They have (Jason) Spezza. They have game-breakers. We don't win a faceoff to save our soul," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. "We have a guys from the AHL that are learning here on job and it's pretty tough."

Eakin scored his 17th of the season with a wrist shot from the edge of the right circle past Sabres goaltender Anders Lindback (35 saves).

"We got kind of mixed up out at the blue (line), lost coverage and they found the guy breaking to the net," Gionta said of Eakin's game-winner.

Gionta gave Buffalo the early lead when he scored his eighth goal of the season 13:39 into the first period. Gionta knocked in a rebound after Lehtonen denied the initial slap shot by Marcus Foligno from the left circle with a pad save. Gionta collected the carom and scored for the first time in 10 games.

"I just don't think we came ready to play early on, and I think a couple power plays got us into it a bit," Benn said. "I think they did a pretty good job early in the second too for the first little bit there. It wasn't pretty, but we found a way to get two points."

Dallas tied it late in the first period when Benn redirected a slap shot by Eaves from the blue line at 19:31 to make it 1-1. It was Benn's 25th goal of the season.

"It was nice to tie it up there. I thought Lindback had a pretty good game over there. It was just nice to have a goalie not steal a show from us in here," Benn said.

The Sabres restored the lead via the power play at 11:07 of the second period on Gionta's second of the game on a deflection. Johan Larsson's slap shot from the right circle struck Moulson and then Gionta before going past Lehtonen. Buffalo had the man-advantage after the Stars were called for too many men on the ice at 10:11 of the second.

But the Stars tied it on Benn's second goal of the game 1:56 into the third. Benn collected the puck just outside the left circle and beat Lindback with a wrist shot that deflected in off his right pad to make it 2-2. Dallas was on the power play after Tyson Strachan was called for delay of game 54 seconds into the third period for shooting the puck over the boards.

"I think we lead the League in shooting the puck out of the rink," Nolan said. "I don't how we do it so many times."

Buffalo regained the lead again at 10:52 of the third when Moulson tapped in a rebound for his 12th goal of the season. Tyler Ennis took the initial shot from the slot that hit the crossbar. But Lehtonen lost sight of the puck and Moulson tapped it in near the far post.

"I didn't know what happened. I knew I hit the crossbar," Ennis said. "I was frustrated that it didn't go in and then I turned around and saw it sitting there. So [I] followed up the play, that's what goal scorers do. It was a big goal."

Dallas answered again at 12:35 of the third when Eaves scored his 10th of the season off a deflection to make it 3-3. Eaves got in front of Tyler Seguin's wrist shot from the slot off the rush.

The Sabres blocked 43 shots in the loss.

"That's how I feel like it's been all the time here, guys who really dig deep and try to do whatever they can. It's honorable," Lindback said. "It's fun playing behind these guys because they work so hard and try so hard, but obviously you get a night like this it's even more disappointing."


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