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Elias scores early in OT; Devils defeat Stars

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS - The New Jersey Devils didn't get discouraged after losing the lead they had held for more than 48 minutes. Instead, after allowing the Dallas Stars to tie the game with 52 seconds remaining in regulation, they used a power-play goal by Patrik Elias 40 seconds into overtime to earn a 3-2 win Thursday at American Airlines Center.

"It's big. Obviously, in St. Louis [a 3-0 loss on Tuesday] we didn't do enough to win and tonight I thought we did and we were able to get the W," Devils center Travis Zajac said.

New Jersey, which led the game for 48:09, got two points each from Elias, Zajac (goal, assist) and Jaromir Jagr (two assists). Cory Schneider made 14 saves.

"I thought we played about as good a road game as we could play," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "The game plan held them to 12 or 14 shots or whatever it ended up being. {We were] a little unlucky there at the end [of regulation]. We persevered and it was a big two points. Both teams were playing for keeps. We're both in pretty desperate situations, so there was a lot of contact and lot of battles. I thought we really showed up well."

Dallas forced overtime when Tyler Seguin scored with the Stars skating 6-on-5 after pulling goaltender Kari Lehtonen for an extra attacker. Seguin roofed a shot over Schneider during a scramble.

But the Stars put the Devils on a power play 28 seconds into overtime when captain Jamie Benn was guilty of tripping Elias near center ice. New Jersey scored 12 seconds later.

"What I saw when I had the puck was they covered everybody. I couldn't pass it. There was only one guy left open. It was Travis, so I just wanted to put kind of a shot or pass to him because he was by himself," Jagr said of the game-winner by Elias.

The Stars, who got a goal from Benn in the second period, finished a five-game homestand 3-1-1.

"I thought we were awful. I thought we came out flat," Dallas coach Lindy Ruff said. "We lost a lot of the battles and got outskated. You don't win many games like that."

Dallas had a 5-on-3 power play for 1:15 in the first period after New Jersey's Mark Fayne was called for holding at 4:30 and Anton Volchenkov for an illegal check to the head of Seguin at 5:15. The Stars were unable to capitalize and were held without a shot.

"That's incredible," Schneider said of the kill. "I've always been a believer that especially early in the game those extended 5-on-3s can sort of dictate the outcome. If they get one early, it sort of puts us in a tough spot, but we had a huge, huge kill and guys did a great job. All the credit goes to them."

New Jersey scored first when Dainius Zubrus beat Lehtonen to the short side 10:59 into the game. Zubrus' one-timer from the right circle came after Jagr fed him from the slot for a shot under Lehtonen's glove for his 10th of the season.

Dallas finished with four shots in the first period, equaling a season low. New Jersey had seven.

"We weren't sharp to start the game," Stars center Cody Eakin said. "That's not the way we need to start."

Zajac made it 2-0 when he scored a power-play goal at 9:50 of the second period by deflecting a shot from Damien Brunner past Lehtonen on the blocker side.

The Stars made it 2-1 when Benn beat Schneider with a short-side backhander from the slot 62 seconds later for his 21st goal of the season.

Lehtonen (21 saves) left the ice with 1:39 remaining in regulation after Jagr (hooking) and Benn (diving) were sent to the penalty box. Dallas tied the game with Seguin's 24th of the season off a scramble.

After starting their three-game road trip with a 3-0 loss at the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday, the Devils knew how important a bounce-back win was against Dallas. That's exactly what they got.

"It's not an easy team to play against. They're very fast. They're playing hard. We wanted to come out and do our job. It doesn't matter how but make sure that we try to get two points here," Elias said. "We'll take it and move on try to get another two points tomorrow [against the Nashville Predators]."

Zubrus sustained an undisclosed injury and did not play during the last half of the third period and overtime.

"We'll see in the morning," DeBoer said of Zubrus' status.

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