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Stars chase Schneider in win against Devils

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- After three straight days of tough practices, Dallas Stars coach Lindy Ruff expected results. With Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza leading the way, the Stars responded.

Seguin and Spezza each had a goal and an assist to lead Dallas to a 4-3 win against the New Jersey Devils at American Airlines Center on Saturday.

Ruff put his players through the paces after a 5-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.

"I thought we played well tonight," Stars center Shawn Horcoff said. "I think we probably could've scored a few more goals. We focused on a few things in our defensive zone and neutral zone system play and we really focused on getting pucks to the net, and tonight I thought was a direct result of that."

Trevor Daley and Horcoff also scored for Dallas (11-13-5), which finished its three-game homestand 2-1-0. Antoine Roussel had two assists and Kari Lehtonen made 28 saves.

"I thought we worked pretty hard," Dallas captain Jamie Benn said. "We did a lot of right things out there. I think we could still clean up the neutral zone a bit, but I thought we played pretty good."

The Stars led 4-2 after two periods but Scott Gomez made it a one-goal game when he scored off a rebound with 1:07 remaining and goalie Keith Kinkaid off for an extra attacker.

"We knew we still had time," Devils right wing Michael Ryder said. "That's what we said the whole third period, just get one and you never know what can happen. We got that goal and we knew there was still a lot of time left. We just couldn't manage to find a way to get that other one to tie the game at the end."

Dallas took the lead 14:29 into the game when Seguin scored his NHL-leading 23rd goal of the season from the slot. Erik Cole faked a shot from near the right circle before passing to Seguin, who finished with a slap shot that sailed under the glove of Devils goaltender Cory Schneider, who started the game but was pulled after the second period.

The Devils nearly tied it at 15:53 of the first period when Ryder attempted to score on a snap from the right circle. But his shot struck the near post.

"I'm getting the chances, getting good shots. They're just not going in right now," Ryder said. "It's a little frustrating, especially when you lose by one goal. If one of those goes in, it's a tie game."

Dallas doubled its advantage at 17:00 of the first when Spezza roofed a wrist shot into the top of the net for his sixth goal of the season. Spezza was denied twice previously in the sequence, first by Schneider and then at the near post by Devils defenseman Jon Merrill.

The puck deflected off Merrill's left skate and fell to Spezza, who finished to give Dallas a two-goal lead.

"I thought [we] really dominated, even after 40 minutes; the possession, the shots, the chances," Ruff said. "I thought we skated really well."

Merrill, Eric Gelinas and Gomez scored for the Devils (11-15-5), who lost their second straight. Adam Henrique had two assists.

New Jersey answered at 4:26 of the second when Merrill beat Lehtonen to his short side from the left circle for a power-play goal. Merrill's goal, his second of the season, came 17 seconds into a power play resulting from a high-sticking call on Jamie Benn at 4:17.

"Yeah, it was a great pass by [Henrique]," Merrill said. "I just put it on net and it went in."

The Devils made it a 2-2 game 3:20 later when Gelinas scored his fourth goal of the season on a wrist shot from the left point at 7:46. Lehtonen was screened by teammate John Klingberg and never saw the shot from Gelinas, which went under Lehtonen's right shoulder.

"I thought in the second period we pushed back hard to make it 2-2," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "We pushed to the end. It wasn't enough."

Dallas had a golden opportunity to regain the lead at 10:42 of the second when Travis Morin, recalled from Texas of the American Hockey League earlier in the week, had a great chance for his first NHL goal in front of the net, but his wrist shot hit the near post.

The Stars regained their lead at 14:55 of the second when Daley beat Schneider short side with a slap shot from the right circle. Roussel assisted with a pass from the slot.

"[Roussel] made an unbelievable play," Daley said. "He kept the puck down low, recycled it. We did a good job today in the zone of cycling the puck, taking pucks to the net, just throwing pucks at the net. That was a theme in our practice too during the week, was getting pucks to the net. I thought we responded."

Dallas went ahead 4-2 late in the second when Horcoff scored his first goal in 11 games at 16:52 of the second with a wrist shot near the far post. Vernon Fiddler set Horcoff up with a pass from the left circle with a nice bit of maneuvering around Devils defenseman Andy Greene.

"It was a scramble in front and then we had a nice breakout," Horcoff said. "The defense kind of went towards him and [Fiddler] made a great play passing it across. I was pretty tight with the net so I was just trying to get it five-hole as hard as I could and it snuck through."

New Jersey was without veteran left wing Michael Cammalleri for most of the final two periods after he left the ice early in the second period.

"Lower-body [injury] is what I've been told," DeBoer said.

Schneider allowed four goals on 33 shots before being replaced by Kinkaid to begin the third period. Kinkaid made three saves.

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