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Hurricanes score five unanswered to defeat Stars

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- It was the sort of performance Carolina Hurricanes coach Bill Peters expects from captain Eric Staal.

Trailing the Dallas Stars 2-0 after the first period Tuesday at American Airlines Center, the Hurricanes erupted for five unanswered goals, including four in the second period. Staal led the way in the third period, scoring two goals to help Carolina to a 6-4 victory in the first of its five-game road trip.

"It's good," Peters said. "We're going to be on the road here for a little bit and we need contributions from everybody, and I thought we got that tonight."

Jeff Skinner, Patrick Dwyer, Victor Rask and Jiri Tlusty each scored a goal for Carolina in the second period.

Staal scored his first goal early in the third period to put the Hurricanes ahead 5-2. He beat Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen again with 3:57 remaining to ice the win for the visitors.

"We stuck with it, and I liked how we responded in the second and followed it up with a big win to start this trip," said Staal, who had an assist on Tlusty's goal.

Cam Ward stopped 23 shots for Carolina (6-9-3), and defenseman John-Michael Liles had two assists.

"Felt good to chip in a little bit on the scoresheet and obviously the win is a huge win for us at the start of a road trip," Liles said.

Carolina won for the first time at American Airlines Center. It was the franchise's first win in Dallas since Feb. 11, 1996, a 5-3 victory for the Hartford Whalers at Reunion Arena.

"Yeah, I actually thought of that (that he had never won in Dallas) before the game tonight, to be honest," Staal said. "I know I've been here a lot and we haven't had the right result. It was nice to get that behind us. Don't come here often, but it's a tough building."

Dallas, which is 1-5-4 at home and 6-9-4 overall, built a two-goal lead on first-period goals from captain Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, who finished with two goals.

After falling behind 5-2 early in the third period, Dallas, which was starting a five-game homestand, cut the deficit to 5-4 with goals from Cody Eakin and Seguin.

"I thought we were pretty tight the first period. I thought we got fragile," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "We're going to need more out of some players."

The Stars struck early when Benn ended an 11-game goal drought 1:48 into the opening period. Vernon Fiddler fed Benn with a backhand pass from behind the Carolina goal that traveled through the paint before reaching Benn at the far post. All Benn had to do was tap it in with a quick wrist shot for his first goal since Oct. 24 at the New Jersey Devils.

"It doesn't mean much when you don't win," Benn said.

Dallas doubled its lead when a long-range slap shot by rookie defenseman John Klingberg deflected in off Seguin's right skate 3:26 before the first intermission with the teams skating at 4-on-4 following coincidental minors on Rask and Dallas forward Curtis McKenzie.

Jason Spezza won a faceoff against Staal in the right circle, and the puck went to Klingberg. After skating toward the middle of the ice, Klingberg took a hard shot that went in off the toe of Seguin's skate for his 13th goal.

Klingberg later assisted on Seguin's second goal of the game, his League-leading 14th.

Early in the second, Skinner made it a one-goal game when he beat Lehtonen from the left circle at 2:34. Skinner received a pass from Jamie McClement, who was playing his 700th career game, at the Dallas blue line and quickly finished with a wrist shot that beat Lehtonen far post, sailing in over his glove.

Dwyer then scored his first goal of the season at 7:00, capitalizing on some confusion at the Dallas blue line. Dwyer collected the puck just inside the Stars zone and beat Lehtonen with a backhand to tie the game.

Carolina took its first lead on Rask's power-play goal with a slap shot from the right circle at 8:30 of the second. Liles made the pass to Rask, who scored his third goal.

The Hurricanes kept coming, scoring their fourth goal of the second period at 15:54 when Tlusty knocked in a pass from Elias Lindholm for his eighth goal.

Backup Anders Lindback replaced Lehtonen after the Tlusty goal. Lehtonen allowed four goals on 16 shots prior to departing.

"Obviously, I've been riding [Lehtonen] a lot," Ruff said. "He's not going to like his game; I didn't like his game. He's been my guy, and he's going to continue to be my guy, but he needs help. We can criticize those goals, but we made some plays that we don't need to make. They hurt us. We didn't defend well enough on the first one. He's going through a tough streak."

Staal made it 5-2 nine seconds into the third period when he collected his own rebound and fired the puck past Lindback.

Dallas finally answered at 2:38 of the third when Eakin deflected an Alex Goligoski shot into the back of the Carolina net.

Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon nearly scored at 9:54 of the third, but his shot instead went off the crossbar.

Seguin's second goal, with 7:05 left in the third period, made it a one-goal game, but Staal's second of the night, fifth of the season, put Carolina back ahead by two with less than four minutes remaining.

Lindback stopped seven of nine shots in relief of Lehtonen.

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