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game recap

Stars take big early lead, defeat Blackhawks

Dallas in first place in Central, plays St. Louis next

by Steve Hunt / NHL.com Correspondent

Ja. Benn's PPG extends the lead

CHI@DAL: Ja. Benn nets PPG to put Stars ahead by four

3/11/16: Tyler Seguin's back-door pass deflects off Patrick Eaves' stick, then off the skate of Jamie Benn and in for a power-play goal

  • 01:06 •

DALLAS -- Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza each had a goal and an assist, and Kari Lehtonen made 21 saves to help the Dallas Stars defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 at American Airlines Center on Friday. 

Antoine Roussel and Ales Hemsky scored for Dallas (41-21-8), which led 4-0 in the second period, chasing Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford, who made 16 saves. 

"They're a team we have a lot of respect for, and they're a tough team to play against," Spezza said. "Special teams was good, penalty kill got some huge kills at the start of the game. It was a good win for us." 

Teuvo Teravainen and Tomas Fleischmann scored for Chicago (41-22-6). 

"The St. Louis game (a 3-2 shootout loss Wednesday) was all right, but tonight's game was not good at all," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "Our special teams had probably as bad a night as you could have." 

Dallas scored on two of six power plays and killed five Chicago advantages. 

Dallas completes a Central Division back-to-back Saturday against the St. Louis Blues, who defeated the Anaheim Ducks 5-2 on Friday. The Stars have 90 points, the Blues have 89 and the Blackhawks have 88 in the top three places in the division.

Video: CHI@DAL: Lehtonen stretches left pad to deny Toews

"St. Louis might be the best team in the League right now [with] the way they're playing, and they're healthier," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "[Saturday the] task is going to be even a little more daunting than putting things together the way we did [against Chicago], changing lines around and coming up with the effort we did." 

Spezza gave Dallas a 1-0 lead with his 26th goal of the season, a wrist shot from the high slot with the Stars on the power play at 11:08 of the first period. Roussel's 12th goal of the season 1:09 into the second period made it 2-0. He roofed a pass from Hemsky into the upper left corner. 

"Every chance [you] get to play the Blackhawks, you want to come out with a good effort and I thought we did that tonight," Benn said. 

Seguin and Benn each scored his 33rd goal of the season in the second period. Seguin scored at 5:06 with a wrist shot from the slot through Crawford's five-hole. Benn scored when a Seguin pass deflected off his left skate at 10:42 with the Stars on the power play. 

"It was nice," Benn said of ending a seven-game goal drought. "I think I was more excited when [Seguin] scored and when the other guys scored than when I did. They're not pretty all the time, and you'll take what I can get. Even if it's kicking one in, I'll take it." 

Spezza assisted on Seguin's goal for his 800th NHL point. 

Ruff got his 693rd NHL win and passed Dick Irvin for fifth on the all-time list. Ruff is 693-514-113 with 78 ties in 18 seasons with the Stars and Buffalo Sabres. 

Scott Darling replaced Crawford after Benn's goal; Darling made 10 saves. 

Video: CHI@DAL: Stars take the lead on Spezza's PPG

"We matched up well. Our speed has been good against them," Ruff said. "We've been able to create some holes and put them under pressure. Our forecheck pressure resulted in a couple really nice goals." 

Chicago has killed 26 of 42 (61.9 percent) of opposing power plays over the past 13 games. 

"Well, yeah. I mean, we definitely have to focus on it more. That's what it comes down to," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "Obviously, heading into the last number of games and the postseason, it's going to be a huge part of our game going forward." 

Chicago made it 4-1 when Teravainen scored his 11th goal on a quick slap shot near the far post at 13:01 of the second period, 37 seconds after Seguin hit the post. 

Darling left the ice with 8:10 remaining in the third period, but in nearly two minutes with an extra attacker the Blackhawks couldn't score. Darling returned with 6:11 left. 

Hemsky caught Darling heading to the bench with 4:31 remaining and scored into the empty net. 

"We got done what we wanted to get done. I thought we slowed their attack and won the special-teams battle," Ruff said. "That was a real big team effort from goaltender through the defense, our young defense. I thought the forwards did a heck of a job supporting them." 

Fleischmann scored his 12th of the season with 58 seconds remaining to make it 5-2. Ruff challenged the goal, claiming Dale Weise interfered with Lehtonen, but after a short review the call on the ice was upheld. 

Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa played 15:30 in his return from a nine-game absence caused by a leg injury. 

"Nobody's panicking here," he said. "Obviously, we just have to be better in those things [special teams]. We've got a great team here. We're in a good spot, a good situation. We just have to be better than we were tonight."

Video: Stars beat Blackhawks, take over conference lead

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