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Stars blow big lead, defeat Hurricanes on late goal

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars blew a four-goal lead in the third period, but Patrick Sharp scored on a power play with 18.5 seconds remaining to give them a 6-5 win against the Carolina Hurricanes at American Airlines Center on Tuesday.

"We've had some funny games lately," said Stars captain Jamie Benn, who had a goal and three assists. "We were down 3-0 in Minnesota (on Nov. 28), and then came back. Up 3-0 in Calgary (on Dec. 1), lose. Pretty much dominate Edmonton (on Dec. 4), and lose. Didn't play well tonight, and come back and win. I'm just happy with the win."

Dallas led 4-0 after the first period and 5-1 after the second, but Carolina scored four unanswered goals in the third, tying it 5-5 when Jeff Skinner scored with 6:43 remaining.

Sharp scored the game-winner with a slap shot from the right point that went through Hurricanes goaltender Eddie Lack.

"I jumped on the power play late there," Sharp said. "[John Klingberg] kind of one-touched it back to me, and I knew I had to get it to net. It wasn't the best shot, but I got slashed as I was shooting and maybe that affected the goalie."

Dallas went on the power play at 18:26 following a tripping penalty against Carolina forward Victor Rask, who had three assists. Hurricanes captain Eric Staal wasn't happy with the call.

"With [1:34] left, you don't usually see the team that's given up four goals in the third period get rewarded with a power play," Staal said. "But they did tonight, and they capitalized because they got some good players on the power play and we weren't able to get the job done on the kill."

Tyler Seguin had a goal and three assists for the Stars (21-5-2). Klingberg had three assists, Valeri Nichushkin had a goal and two assists, and Johnny Oduya had a goal and an assist.

Justin Faulk scored two power-play goals for the Hurricanes (10-14-4), who were starting a four-game road trip. Jaccob Slavin and Phillip Di Giuseppe each scored the first goal of his NHL career, and Noah Hanifin had two assists.

Antti Niemi, who replaced Dallas starter Kari Lehtonen after Skinner tied the game, was credited with the win despite facing no shots.

"[Lehtonen] just wasn't seeing the puck," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "I think he got a little rattled over the interference [on the first power-play goal by Faulk], thought maybe that call should have went his way. I probably should have taken him out one [goal] earlier."

Ruff challenged the first Faulk goal, which made it 5-2 at 2:21 of the third, but video review determined Staal had not interfered with Lehtonen before the puck crossed the goal line.

Faulk scored again at 8:26 with a slap shot from near the Dallas blue line to make it 5-4.

"I'm going to give them a lot of credit. They were outskating us right from the start of the game," Ruff said. "But they came in hard, they came in heavy, they won more battles than us. It was a feeling that if they kept playing like that, they'd get back in it. Their four-man attack got to us."

Each of Faulk's goals came on the power play. The first was his 10th with the man-advantage, passing Anton Babchuk (2008-09) for most in a season by a Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers defenseman.

Di Giuseppe's goal was sandwiched between the two from Faulk.

"[Hanifin] made a good play getting the puck to the net," Di Giuseppe said. "I got it and just released it quick. It's an incredible feeling. I think it was a big goal at the time, continued our momentum, but it's disappointing we didn't get that win. I thought we'd earned a better outcome."

Carolina tied it when Skinner beat Lehtonen to his short side with a wrist shot from the left circle.

"Well, just the fact they stayed with it [is what I liked]," Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. "I know we had chances throughout the game and they elected to stay with it, clawed their way back."

The Stars led 2-0 in the first period after Patrick Eaves and Benn scored 26 seconds apart.

Eaves scored on a one-timer from the left circle to end his 13-game goal drought dating to last season. Benn scored his first in four games with a wrist shot from the right circle that beat Carolina starter Cam Ward to the far post at 7:15.

Oduya scored with a one-timer from near the blue line that deflected in off Hurricanes defenseman Ron Hainsey to make it 3-0. Seguin scored a power-play goal with 1:14 remaining before the first intermission.

Lack, who made 10 saves, replaced Ward to start the second period. Ward allowed four goals on eight shots.

Slavin scored at 3:10 of the second when he tapped in a rebound. Lehtonen had denied a wrist shot from Riley Nash but lost sight of the puck, and Slavin scored by knocking it in from inside the blue paint.

Nichushkin restored the Stars' four-goal lead when he scored his fourth of the season with 34 seconds left in the second. His wrist shot from the slot struck Lack in the shoulder and crossed the goal line as the Hurricanes goalie was falling backward.

It may not have been the prettiest of wins for Dallas, which is 12-2-2 at home, but one prominent player in the victory will take it.

"We got two points," Seguin said. "We've got to put it behind us, but there's a lot we can learn from this game. Obviously, attention to detail wasn't good enough tonight, so we'll probably have a nice practice tomorrow and get ready for the back-to-back this weekend."

The Stars host the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday and visit the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.

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