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Roussel's go-ahead goal lifts Stars past Flyers

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- Mattias Janmark and Antoine Roussel scored goals 3:22 apart late in the second period, and the Dallas Stars defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1 at American Airlines Center on Friday.

Antti Niemi made 19 saves and Jamie Benn scored his League-leading 20th goal into an empty net, helping Dallas end the Flyers' four-game road winning streak. The Stars (22-5-2) outshot the Flyers 44-20, but goaltender Michal Neuvirth kept Philadelphia in the game with 41 saves.

"I thought we played maybe our best all-around game when it comes to puck movement,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said after Dallas improved to 5-0-2 in its past seven games. “Playing in their own end, I thought, [we] did a lot of great things in the game. We had a little bit of a tired team coming in. They got a big win [Thursday] night [at the St. Louis Blues], and it's nice when you know you can get on top of a team."

The Stars lead the NHL with 46 points, 22 wins and 21 non-shootout wins.

Roussel broke a 1-1 tie with 2:32 remaining in the second by poking a rebound through Neuvirth's five-hole for his fifth goal of the season.

“I saw the puck, so I just had to push it and it was perfect. It was right there,” Roussel said. “That was a great job by Cody Eakin and Patrick Sharp there. They just bring the puck at the net, Cody does a nice spin and just battled in front, and we got the game winner there. It was fun."

Neuvirth felt Roussel’s goal summed up the night for the Flyers.

“The puck was under me,’ he said. “We’ve got to be tougher in front of our net.”

Philadelphia (12-12-6) opened the scoring when Shayne Gostisbehere scored a power-play goal midway through the second period.

Gostisbehere drew a holding the stick penalty on Eakin, then put the Flyers ahead with a one-timer from the high slot at 9:23. He beat Niemi inside the far post for his fifth goal of the season and fourth on the power play.

But the Flyers generated little offense during the rest of the game.

“I think they had the better scoring opportunities for sure in the first two periods and they scored the eventual game-winner by going through the blue paint,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. “We had a couple of opportunities but not as many as we’d like to be able to generate.

“I thought we showed a little bit of fatigue but we also showed a lot of battle level, trying to generate, trying to tie it up once we did get down.”

Dallas got even when Janmark scored his sixth goal of the season at 14:06. His wrist shot from the left circle deflected off the right skate of Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds and past Neuvirth.

“They threw a lot of pucks at the net and they got lucky,” Neuvirth said.

Stars defenseman Jason Demers, who returned from a three-game absence due to an upper-body injury, felt it was only a matter of time before Dallas tied it after Gostisbehere put the Flyers ahead.

"We knew we were getting the chances. Their goalie played great, give him a lot of credit. It was 1-0, but everyone on the bench, you know you have those feelings that we're going to tie it up. And once we tied it up, we took it over pretty well,” Demers said. “They kind of ran out of gas a little bit, but it's nice to see that we have that character right now in our leadership group and all the guys around them have done a great job this year."

The Flyers got their second power play of the game when Colton Sceviour was called for hooking with 7:26 remaining, but the Stars held Philadelphia without a shot during the man-advantage.

"A big kill again,” Ruff said. “Their power play is dangerous. We had some good looks on ours but didn't convert. That's probably one they'd like to convert too, but didn't.”

Philadelphia captain Claude Giroux felt the six penalties the Flyers committed ended up taking a toll, even though Dallas went 0-for-6 on the power play.

“We got to do a better job of staying out of the box, especially against this team,” Giroux said. “In a way, that kind of killed us.”

Benn hit the empty net with 52.4 seconds remaining.

Philadelphia, which won 4-2 at the St. Louis Blues on Thursday, is off until it hosts the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. Dallas is at St. Louis on Saturday.

"I thought we were much sharper tonight than we've been the last couple [games],” Stars center Jason Spezza said. “In the third period, with a 2-1 lead, I thought we stuck to the game plan. We played with a lot of confidence in the third. You know the other team's going to make a push, but I thought for the most part we had good puck possession, still kept making plays.”

The Flyers knew what to expect from Dallas’ top line of Benn, Tyler Seguin and Valeri Nichushkin, but center Matt Read came away equally impressed with the second line of Janmark, Spezza and Patrick Eaves.

“I thought they played a good game there, moving the puck well,” Flyers forward Matt Read said. “They play with speed. That’s another top line in the league besides [Jamie] Benn and [Tyler] Seguin’s line. They play a high, fast game, all four lines. You’ve got to limit your mistakes when you’re playing against those top guys for sure.”

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