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Stars edge Blues, win fourth straight on road

by Louie Korac

ST. LOUIS -- The Dallas Stars have been opportunistic on the road recently.

They had to withstand a push by the St. Louis Blues in the third period on Saturday.

The Stars won their fourth straight away from American Airlines Center and their first game within the Central Division this season in a 4-3 victory against the Blues at Scottrade Center.

The Stars (15-14-5) got goals from Travis Moen, Ryan Garbutt, Trevor Daley and Jason Demers. Kari Lehtonen made 30 saves and the Stars improved to 1-7-3 within the Central.

"We found a way to come in here and get two points, that's all we came for," Stars captain Jamie Benn said. "Finding a way to play with that one-goal lead finds ways to win games.

"It's time for us to start locking down leads we have and I think we did a pretty good job tonight."

The Blues (21-11-3), who have lost four straight (0-3-1), got goals from Alex Pietrangelo, Vladimir Tarasenko and David Backes. Jake Allen made 20 saves, but the Blues lost for the first time in regulation on home ice since Nov. 8 (7-1-1).

Mistakes continue to be magnified for St. Louis, which has been as disciplined as any team in the NHL. But not in this recent stretch.

The Blues got things going in the third period and had multiple chances to tie the game but couldn't come up with the equalizer.

"I think the mistakes have been the same they've been for four games," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Other than the game in San Jose [last Saturday], I think they've been the same mistakes. Can't defend our own zone. We're going to have to play with the same ferocity in our own zone than we do in the offensive zone. We won every board battle. When we were chasing the game in the offensive zone, we won a lot of board battles. We came up with a lot of pucks, but the sense of urgency to do that in our 'D' zone is not there so we get scored on. I think it shows up on 'PK.' It shows up 5-on-5."

The Stars converted twice against the Blues' struggling penalty kill (they've allowed 10 goals in 32 tries the past six games) in the second period to take command of the game and break a 2-2 tie.

Daley weaved through the Blues and beat Allen on the short side with a wrist shot at 7:41 of the period. Demers snuck behind the Blues' defense, took Erik Cole's pass and beat Allen on the Stars' 18th shot with 47.4 seconds left in the period to make it 4-2.

"Always a good feeling, got two tonight [on the power play], got the two points so [we're] going home happy," Daley said. "We felt we could shoot a little bit more, we're still working to get better."

Stars coach Lindy Ruff and Hitchcock said to expect a lot of loose play in games coming out of the Christmas break, and that's what they saw in the first period.

Each team scored twice, and had ample ice to convert goals as well as commit mistakes.

Moen, who missed five games because of an upper-body injury, returned to the lineup to score his first in 22 games this season after Allen mishandled a puck behind the net. The puck squirted to the side and Moen knocked it into an open net 2:08 into the game.

Pietrangelo tied it for the Blues 27 seconds later off a shot from Paul Stastny that Lehtonen kicked into the slot, and Pietrangelo snapped a quick shot past the Stars goalie.

Rookie Petteri Lindbohm's turnover in his own zone, a cross-ice pass, was intercepted by Garbutt, who beat Allen with a slap shot top-shelf with 5:14 left in the period to give the Stars a 2-1 lead.

But Tarasenko's team-leading 21st of the season and 100th NHL point on the power play off an Alexander Steen shot that was blocked towards the left circle with 3:50 left in the period tied the game 2-2.

"Started a little sloppy; first couple of goals, both teams would like to have back," Ruff said. "We had some good opportunities."

Backes cut the Stars' lead to 4-3 when Backes redirected Jay Bouwmeester's point shot past Lehtonen at 5:40 of the third period.

The Blues pushed and pushed, but Lehtonen was up to the task making big saves on T.J. Oshie and Pietrangelo to keep it a one-goal game.

"I thought we came out with a little bit of bite in the third," Pietrangelo said. "We just took too much a little too late."

The Stars were able to protect the lead.

"We played pretty smart in the third period with a two-goal lead," Ruff said.

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