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Stars dominate Wild to sweep homestand

by Steve Hunt /

DALLAS-- The Dallas Stars have found another gear.

Winners of four straight and eight of their past nine games, Dallas got two goals from Vernon Fiddler, a goal and an assist from Tyler Seguin and goalie Kari Lehtonen made 20 saves in a 7-1 win against the Minnesota Wild at American Airlines Center on Saturday.

Dallas (18-14-5) completed a perfect homestand at 3-0-0. The Stars also got a three assists from defenseman Jamie Oleksiak and a goal and an assist each from forwards Erik Cole and Brett Ritchie.

"I think it's been a lot of different things," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "At times, it's been real strong goaltending for us. Other games it's been (being) real sound on offense and defense. The last couple we've probably played as well in our own end as we've played all year, and when you spend that little bit of time in your own end that allows you to go up ice and do some good things."

Fiddler's first goal since Nov. 1 gave the Stars a 1-0 lead in the first period. Dallas then erupted for five goals in the second period. Forwards Fiddler, Seguin, Cole and Antoine Roussel and Colton Sceviour each scored to give Dallas a 6-1 lead after two periods.

"I think it (our confidence level) is good," Seguin said. "We are playing well when we are competing and skating. You didn’t see that as much or as consistently at the beginning of the year. It would be sporadic, one game it would be good and the other not so much."

Minnesota (18-15-4) got its lone goal late in the second period from forward Thomas Vanek on the power play.

"It’s not fun," Wild left wing Zach Parise said. "It’s embarrassing. We’ve got a lot of players that individually need to be a lot better. I won’t hide from that, I know that I haven’t played well the last little stretch and that’s the only way we’ll snap out of this. (These are) just goals you can’t give up this time of year, just can’t do it."

Dallas defeated the Arizona Coyotes 6-0 on Wednesday, and scored six goals in consecutive games for the first time since the 1996-97 season. The seven goals were a season high.

"I think we are defending a lot better and our special teams have been good," Cole said. Our strong team defense can sometimes be our best asset and leads to a lot of good things on the offensive side."

Seguin's goal chased Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper from the game. Kuemper made 17 saves before being relieved by Niklas Backstrom with 8:56 remaining in the second period.

"Well, I think the first period you could see we that had no pace to our game," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "We weren’t able to execute against a team that was pressuring us hard. They played well and we played poorly. That’s how you explain it."

The Stars took the lead on the power play when Fiddler beat Kuemper top shelf with a wrist shot from the left circle off a rush following a pass from Cole 5:34 into the first period.

"We wanted to have a good start, we wanted to get that first goal," Fiddler said. "(Cole) made a great play to me on the power play, and I tried to get the shot off quick."

Trailing 1-0, the Wild remained confident they could turn the game in their favor in the final two periods.

"Again, I feel like no one was using the excuse that we got in late or (we were on) a back-to-back," Vanek said. "We just weren’t very good in the first 20. It was a 1-0 game, so (we) said (at the first intermission) we got 40 minutes to bring more energy and we just were flat."

Dallas doubled their lead at 5:03 of the second period when Sceviour scored his fourth goal with a slap shot from the right circle which beat Kuemper to his short side.

Fiddler scored his second goal at 12:16 of the second period when he knocked a no-look pass from Ritchie in from the slot. Ritchie, who scored his first NHL goal in his debut on Wednesday, got his first career assist.

It was Fiddler's first two-goal game since April 9, 2013 against the Los Angeles Kings.

Dallas has had 14 different players score goals during their current four-game winning streak.

"That's a winning recipe," Ruff said of the Stars’ recent scoring depth. "Every line is playing so well. One through four, they're all playing the same way. When all of your lines are doing the right things and all the lines are producing, it's a winning recipe. Tonight was just another indication that every line went out there, created opportunities, defended really well and got rewarded for it."

The Stars scored at 9:16 of the second period when Seguin tapped in a pass from defenseman John Klingberg for his 26th goal and first in four games.

Cole's seventh goal came when Dallas was shorthanded at 11:15 of the second period he scored on a pass from Jamie Benn.

After Vanek's power-play goal, Roussel scored the fifth goal of the second period for Dallas. Backstrom denied the initial shot from forward Ryan Garbutt, but Roussel scored on the rebound.

"(We) just weren’t even close to good enough obviously. I think the score told you that," Wild center Mikko Koivu said.

Minnesota begins a three-game homestand on Tuesday against the San Jose Sharks.

Wild defenseman Ryan Suter said the Wild aren’t about to panic.

"The biggest thing is we have to stick together," Suter said. “We just have to play."

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