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Stars halt Jones' run in win over Kings

by Curtis Zupke

LOS ANGELES -- The Dallas Stars put an end to Martin Jones' remarkable run Monday night.

Jamie Benn had a Gordie Howe hat trick with a goal, two assists and a fight to lead Dallas to a 5-2 win against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center.

Jones, who had not allowed more than two goals in his first eight NHL games, allowed four to the Stars on 23 shots. Jones (8-1-0) was trying to match Ray Emery for the most winning decisions to start an NHL career at nine. He also was trying to tie Jonathan Quick for the Kings record for longest winning streak by a goalie.

It was the second time in 23 games that L.A. allowed more than two goals in regulation.

"Every time I play, it's a little more experience, which will help me," Jones said. "It's one game. I mean, it [stinks] to lose, but it' one game. We've got a busy schedule after Christmas, so we have to make sure that we're ready to go."

Dallas got 30 saves from goalie Kari Lehtonen and finished 3-0-1 on a four-game run against the Colorado Avalanche, Vancouver Canucks, San Jose Sharks and the Kings before the Christmas break.

"It's a big two points before a big three-day break," Benn said. "[Lehtonen] played great once again. It's not easy coming into these buildings against these teams and finding ways to get points.

"We know they're a pretty tight team. They play a great team defensive game, and they have a hot goalie. I think it was just a good way to put pucks on net and find a way to get a good start.”

The Kings played without captain Dustin Brown, who was ill. Coach Darryl Sutter sounded eager for the holiday break after his team finished six games in nine days, and the Kings admitted they've slipped the past two games.

"We weren't sharp as we wanted to be," Anze Kopitar said. "Obviously they have some guys that can put the puck in the net. We wanted to manage the puck a little better and control the neutral zone and play in the offensive zone, and we didn't spend enough time there."

Benn's night began on a disrespectful note as Los Angeles Dodgers legend Tommy Lasorda walked away from Benn without shaking his hand at the opening puck drop ceremony. Lasorda previously pulled the stunt on Jack Johnson of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"I was actually kind of excited to see him out there, but it seemed like he didn't want to be out there too long," Benn said. "He dropped his puck and went on his way. I guess he doesn't like the away team."

Benn got revenge on a wicked backhand in the first period, recorded a secondary assist on the game-winning power-play goal and fought Robyn Regehr. Cody Eakin scored at 15:12 of the third to seal the win, and Shawn Horcoff scored an empty-net goal.

Dallas got three power plays in the second period and its 29th-ranked unit converted one to take a 3-2 lead into the third. Tyler Seguin set up Valeri Nichushkin for a one-timer into an open net at 5:07 with Jarret Stoll serving an interference penalty.

Dallas scored on its first two shots, and both came on outstanding plays by Benn.

Benn sped down the right side and lifted a backhand past Jones so quickly that it took several moments for the official to trigger the red light. Benn’s 11th goal was unassisted at 6:10.

Benn collected the puck behind the net and then set up Seguin for the latter’s team-leading 19th goal for a 2-1 lead at 3:48.

Jones couldn’t be faulted on at least Nichushkin's goal, but it was the first real adversity for the 23-year-old, who rarely trailed in his previous eight games.

Dallas defenseman Maxime Fortunus recorded his first NHL point with a secondary assist on Seguin's goal. Fortunus played his first NHL game since Jan.14, 2010, because Sergei Gonchar was the latest Stars defenseman to sit out with illness or injury. Brendon Dillon briefly left the game when he took a big hit.

Dallas improved to 8-2-2 against the Pacific Division.

"We feel real good about it," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "We did a lot of good things tonight. We knew with the defense we had, young defense, we were going to have to weather a little bit of the storm. But I thought after we got through the first period, we really played good hockey."

Justin Williams scored his team-leading 13th goal in the first period for L.A. Williams has three goals and two assists in two games against the Stars this season.

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