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Jagr gets 1,000th assist as Stars top Wild

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- Jaromir Jagr got his 1,000th NHL assist. The Dallas Stars got some revenge.

Jagr became the 12th player in League history to reach 1,000 assists and the Stars avenged a 7-4 home loss to the Minnesota Wild four days earlier with a 5-3 victory Friday night that snapped the Wild's seven-game winning streak.

It was a big change from Monday night, when the Stars started sloppily and fell apart down the stretch.

"I thought we were more focused and determined to play a direct game from the beginning," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. "They're a real good team, but I just think we played with more grit. We capitalized on our power plays and those were the things that we didn't do in the other game in the third."

Jamie Benn and Ray Whitney each had a goal and an assist for Dallas, which got a 30-save performance by Kari Lehtonen. Tomas Vincour, Erik Cole and Cody Eakin also scored for Dallas, which blew open a 2-2 tie after 40 minutes by scoring three unanswered goals before the Wild's Torrey Mitchell connected with 60 seconds remaining.

After Cole scored 62 seconds into the final period to break the 2-2 tie, Jagr earned his historic assist by feeding Whitney, whose pass set up Benn's goal.

"I never thought about any assists and points, I was happy to be able to play here [in the NHL early on]," said Jagr, who joined the NHL with Pittsburgh as an 18-year-old in 1990. "When I came here, I didn't think I'd have a chance to play here. The League was too strong and too tough for me. I kept working hard and I've had so many good players around me, they showed me the way of how to get better. I really was pretty lucky. I always said you have to be lucky with who you play with and I had a chance to play with so many great players."

The Stars struck first when with Dallas on the power play, Whitney blasted a slapper from near the right circle over the blocker of Wild goaltender Matt Hackett at 4:14 of the first period to make it 1-0. Dallas got the man advantage when Minnesota's Mikko Koivu was whistled for hooking the Stars' Vernon Fiddler, an infraction that sent the Dallas center careening into the left goal post. Fiddler headed to the dressing room after playing just two shifts and seeing just 1:21 of ice time with a lower-body injury. He did not return to the ice.

"He has got a charley horse, so he'll be day-to-day," Gulutzan said of Fiddler.

Hackett, who finished with 28 saves, was recalled from Houston of the American Hockey League on Thursday and made his first NHL start of the season. Minnesota decided to leave starter Niklas Backstrom back in the Twin Cities so he could be fresh for Saturday's visit from the Los Angeles Kings. Darcy Kuemper served as Hackett's backup.

"I thought that there was a couple sequences where he made some spectacular saves, first period, second period, late in the period," Wild coach Mike Yeo said of Hackett's performance. "Obviously, you don't want to give up that many goals, but I thought he played a good game and made some big saves for us."

Jamie Benn, who won a faceoff in the right circle with Minnesota's Matt Cullen, was credited with the primary assist. After winning the draw, the puck fluttered over to the high slot and Whitney wasted little time in scoring his sixth goal of the season.

Dallas made it 2-0 at 7:31 when Vincour netted his second of the season by knocking a deflection into an open net. Defenseman Aaron Rome took the initial shot from the left point but his blast was tipped by Dallas rookie Reilly Smith. That deflection landed at the skates of Vincour, who tapped the puck into the wide-open net.

The Wild got one back when Devin Setoguchi scored his 12th of the season 1:12 before the first intermission. Cullen picked off a lazy pass by Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski deep in the Dallas zone, skated behind the Stars' net and flipped a backhand pass to Setoguchi, who fired a short wrister that sailed over Lehtonen's right shoulder.

After one period, the Stars led 2-1 and had outshot the Wild 17-7.

Things were pretty quiet in the second period until Minnesota went on the power play for the first time at 14:44 when Dallas' Brenden Dillon earned a roughing call for pushing Cullen.

Minnesota needed just 32 seconds to capitalize, as Jared Spurgeon tapped in a rebound for his fifth of the season at 15:16 to tie the game. Lehtonen stopped an initial shot by Kyle Brodziak with his pad, but Spurgeon corralled the rebound and flicked a wrist shot off the far post and in.

Hackett came up with several big saves late in the second period to preserve the tie. He denied Benn twice at close range within a two-second span, then stopped a long slapper by Stephane Robidas and capped the sequence by denying Eric Nystrom's short wrister at the far post.

Dallas went ahead to stay 1:02 into the final period when Cole collected his own rebound and fired it past Hackett for his sixth goal of the season. The Stars regained a two-goal edge at 2:10 when Benn scored with Dallas on a 5-on-3 power play after Koivu took his second hooking penalty of the night and Ryan Suter was whistled for crosschecking.

Eakin's short backhander beat Hackett with 7:20 left to provide some insurance.

"Let's be honest here, that was a team that sat here and practiced and got ready for us," said Yeo, whose team beat Phoenix at home on Wednesday while the Stars had three days off. "We knew that we were going to face their best game tonight. For many parts of the game, we were doing a lot of good things and we gave ourselves a chance, but in the end we didn't get ‘er done."

Lehtonen had to leave the ice at the start of the 5-on-3 power play due to an equipment issue with backup Richard Bachman filling in. However, Lehtonen returned to the Dallas net with 15:38 left and finished the game. The 2:32 he spent in the net earned Bachman the win because the eventual game-winner was scored during his appearance.

Things got ugly with 6:37 left when Minnesota's Mike Rupp flipped Smith into the Wild bench, sending Dallas' Antoine Roussel zooming in to retaliate. Once everyone was separated, Smith had earned a minor for roughing, Roussel a 10-minute misconduct while Minnesota's Zenon Konopka earned a double minor for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct for his role in the fracas in front of the visiting bench.

"That's exactly how I saw that [Rupp dumping Smith into their bench]," Gulutzan said. "I'm not sure if you get penalties for airplane rides [like Smith did] but what I loved was the reaction. I saw [Antoine] Roussel go in and I saw [Trevor] Daley go in and I saw Jaromir Jagr go in. That's what we need, we have to play together and I like that."

With 5:11 left, the Wild's Justin Falk and Nystrom, who spent the 2010-11 season in Minnesota, dropped the gloves in front of the visiting bench.

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