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Seguin hat trick leads Stars past struggling Canucks

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- Tyler Seguin's hat trick led the Dallas Stars to a 6-1 win against the Vancouver Canucks at American Airlines Center on Thursday.

Seguin added two assists for a five-point night. Captain Jamie Benn had a goal and two assists. Alex Goligoski (goal, assist) and Rich Peverley (two assists) chipped in two points each.

"The fast start, our execution was good," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "Puck movement was crisp. I thought we played well in a lot of areas of the ice. It began in our own end, and the transition was good. We were on the tape and when we're on the tape that leads to real good speed."

It was Seguin's third hat trick of the season and the fourth of his career. He has 28 goals this season, one shy of his career-high, which he had in 2011-12 with the Boston Bruins.

"Regardless of the score, that's a huge two points for us," Seguin said. "We knew we had two big games, tonight and Saturday, but we didn't want to look past tonight. Even though it was a higher score than I expected, that's two points for our locker room."

Kari Lehtonen stopped 32 shots for Dallas (30-23-10), which held on to the second wild-card berth in the Western Conference. The Stars are one point ahead of the Phoenix Coyotes.

From the opening faceoff, it was clear Dallas was ready to play. The Stars struck first when Benn tapped in a rebound 2:57 into the game. Canucks goaltender Eddie Lack turned away the initial effort from Seguin, but Benn slipped in the rebound for the 1-0 lead.

The Stars doubled their lead when Seguin scored a power-play goal at 7:26, sending a wrister from the slot over Lack's glove. Seguin scored his second goal at 11:59 when he beat Lack, who appeared to be screened, to the short side with a slapper from the right point.

Vancouver (28-27-10) is 1-10-1 in its past 12 games and trails Dallas by four points.

"It's hard on us right now to try to overcome that right away without even getting in the game, it happened so early. Are they fragile? Sure, but we got to figure it out," Canucks coach John Tortorella said. "No one else is going to figure it out for us. We have to try to find a way to get some sort of consistency in our game for some good things to happen for us."

Vancouver's Zack Kassian was whistled for a major penalty for boarding plus a game misconduct after shoving Dallas defenseman Brenden Dillon into the boards in front of the Canucks bench with 1:30 remaining before the first intermission.

"I can't speak for what happens (with the NHL Department of Player Safety), but I know the play," Tortorella said. "It's a five-minute penalty that can't happen, and those are the things that we can't get ourselves involved in right now, so it piles up on you, but it's the right call."

Dillon returned to the ice to begin the second period.

Dallas continued its onslaught when Goligoski beat Lack top-shelf with a wrister from the right circle for a power-play goal 2:20 into the second period. Goligoski has a goal in three straight games.

Ryan Garbutt got on the scoresheet for Dallas with his 12th of the season at 12:08 of the second. He scored on a one-timer to the short side from the left circle after receiving a pass from Goligoski.

Zac Dalpe scored a power-play goal after Lehtonen misplayed the puck at 18:15 of the second to cut the Stars' lead to 5-1. Alexander Edler sent the puck behind the Dallas net and after it deflected off Lehtonen's stick and right pad, Dalpe tapped in the free puck for his fourth of the season.

Lack stopped 12 of 17 shots he faced in his two periods of work. Jacob Markstrom, acquired in the trade that sent Roberto Luongo to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, made his Vancouver debut when he entered the game in relief of Lack to begin the third period.

"I didn't want to take Eddie out during the period. I waited until the third," Tortorella said. "Eddie's played hard for us and for some of the reads off the rushes and the odd-man rushes so early, that's troublesome."

The Canucks allowed five or more goals in a game for the seventh time this season; five of the seven have come on the road.

"It was a humiliating game to be a part of, just to be outplayed," Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. "I don't care what the shots were, but the first 30 minutes of the game, when the game was on the line, we were just flat out outplayed by a team that executed better than us."

Seguin completed his hat trick with 7:07 remaining in the third period when he beat Markstrom short side for his 28th goal.

"Tonight, the way he skated, he opens up a lot of ice for [Benn]," Ruff said of Seguin. "When he's skating like that, he's pushing the other team back. When you have a centerman that can move it up ice the way he can, it's hard on the other team."

Markstrom made four saves in relief.

"We can't blame him for anything," Lack said of Markstrom coming in under less-than-ideal circumstances. "The game was over and, yeah, there wasn't much for him to do."

Dallas rebounded nicely from a 4-2 loss at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday, a game in which the Stars trailed 3-0 after the first period.

"We didn't like our start in Columbus, so we came in really focused," Goligoski said. "We knew these guys have had a tough time scoring goals, so we needed to bury a few early."

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