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Stars 4, Panthers 3 @NHLdotcom

DALLAS (AP) - After squandering a three-goal lead and failing to connect on four third-period power plays, the Dallas Stars turned to top goal scorer Jere Lehtinen for the winner.

Lehtinen scored twice, including the tiebreaker with 15.8 seconds left, and the Stars handed the Florida Panthers their 10th straight road loss, 4-3 Wednesday night.

"I can't say enough about him," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "You're looking down the bench for someone to take control of the game and he doesn't tell you, he just does it and that's what makes him such a great player. He was in a class by himself tonight.

"Timely goals on the power play are the ones that count, and that one was very timely."

With the score even at 3 and Dallas on its fifth power play of the third period, Mike Modano took possession of the puck deep in the Florida zone on a giveaway by defenseman Steve Montador.

Modano passed from behind the goal line to Lehtinen, who skated hard to the net and beat goalie Jamie McLennan for his 14th goal.

The Stars hadn't gotten a game-winner that late in regulation since Brenden Morrow scored with 19 seconds left to beat Phoenix on March 22, 2002.

Dallas has won four straight and 12 of 14.

Lehtinen and defensemen Martin Skoula and Trevor Daley gave the Stars a 3-0 first-period lead, but the Panthers struck back with a three-goal second period before Lehtinen came up with the late goal.

"We almost let this one slip away," Lehtinen said. "The first period, we came out hard, but we didn't play as hard in the second. They got the intensity, we lost the 1-on-1 battles and in the third we knew we had to play better."

Florida defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski was in the penalty box for tripping when Lehtinen scored his second of the night.

"I thought we came back hard and deserved a much better fate," Panthers coach Jacques Martin said. "When you play half the period short-handed, it's going to be very difficult to win the game."

Juraj Kolnik, Nathan Horton and former Stars forward Joe Nieuwendyk scored for the Panthers, who haven't won on the road since Oct. 25 at Pittsburgh.

The Stars grabbed a 1-0 lead at 6:15 of the first period when Antti Miettinen fed Lehtinen, who was open in front of the net.

Skoula's 50-footer got through Florida starting goalie Roberto Luongo's pads at 12:10 of the first period.

Daley skated up the left side and beat Luongo on the backhand 1:12 later to stretch Dallas' advantage to 3-0.

Martin burned a timeout after Daley's goal and sent in McLennan after Luongo stopped eight of 11 shots.

The crowd was about a third of the announced 17,377 due to an ice storm that rolled into the North Texas area earlier Wednesday. The lack of excitement in the building seemed to rub off on the Stars in the second period when the Panthers climbed back into the game, outshooting Dallas 15-7.

Goals by Kolnik at 6:25 and Horton at 8:09 got the Panthers close, and Florida tied it on Nieuwendyk's power-play tally at 12:26.

"We let them come out more aggressive in the second period," said Stars goalie Marty Turco, who had 19 saves. "We weren't playing together. We started taking some penalties and it's tough to defend that."

Notes: Sergei Zubov's assist on Daley's goal was his 316th for the Stars, the most in franchise history by a defenseman. Craig Hartsburg set the previous high of 315 from 1979-89 when the franchise was in Minnesota. ... Dallas was without D Philippe Boucher, out for about 10 days due to a broken finger. ... D Sean Hill missed his third straight game for the Panthers because of a groin injury. ... When Dallas gave up only four shots in the first period, it extended the Stars' streak of allowing six shots or fewer to seven periods. Florida broke that with a 15-shot second period. ... The Stars have at least one power-play goal in 17 consecutive games, matching the franchise record set between Oct. 11-Nov. 18, 1986.

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