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Stars rally to even series with Ducks

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- Dallas Stars coach Lindy Ruff has been stressing the importance of secondary scoring throughout their Western Conference First Round series with the Anaheim Ducks.

In Game 4 on Wednesday at American Airlines Center, Dallas received goals from captain Jamie Benn, Vernon Fiddler, Cody Eakin and Alex Goligoski in a 4-2 win that evened the best-of-7 series 2-2.

"I really feel like we're in a playoff series now," Ruff said. "The first couple of games didn't feel like it, but now we feel like we have a playoff series."

Game 5 is Friday in Anaheim (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, RDS2, PRIME, FS-SW).

After trailing 2-0 after one period on goals by Anaheim's Bryan Allen and Patrick Maroon, Dallas scored second-period goals from Benn and Fiddler to make it 2-2. Eakin and Goligoski then scored 2:07 apart in the third.

Goligoski's goal at 7:44 chased Anaheim rookie goaltender Frederik Andersen, who was replaced by Jonas Hiller. Andersen stopped 21 of 25 shots.

"After the second goal, I certainly did [think about pulling Andersen]," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "After they scored their second goal, I told [Hiller] to get ready because I didn't think [Andersen] was that sharp. In the third period when they got that goal [by Goligoski], I just thought it was time."

Benn had an empty-net goal with 1:04 remaining in regulation nullified because the whistle had blown.

Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen made 17 saves in his second straight victory. Fiddler (goal, assist) and Shawn Horcoff (two assists) each contributed two points for Dallas.

The Ducks, without captain Ryan Getzlaf, a late scratch with an upper-body injury, struck twice in the first period. Allen scored his first career goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the opening period, blasting a slapper top-shelf past Lehtonen at 12:17.

Allen's goal was his first since Feb. 28, 2012, when he scored against the Nashville Predators as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes, a span of 128 games. Lehtonen looked like he was at least partially screened by Stars rookie right wing Alex Chiasson.

The Ducks made it 2-0 at 18:16 when a shot from Mathieu Perreault struck Maroon in the midsection and fluttered past Lehtonen.

Benn's unassisted goal 27 seconds into the period made it 2-1, and Dallas pulled even at 6:33 when Fiddler beat Andersen to the short side for his third career playoff goal. Andersen appeared to corral Fiddler's shot, but the puck struck the goaltender in the midsection before crossing the line.

"We had full control in the first period," Ducks center Andrew Cogliano said. "I thought some of the goals that we gave them they were just mistakes that we gave up. I feel that the goals that we gave them were self-inflicted for the most part and we couldn't recover."

Anaheim nearly retook the lead midway through the second, but a Perreault wrister from the right circle at 10:57 instead hit the right goal post.

The Stars were down to five defensemen to begin the second period after rookie Patrik Nemeth sustained an injury. Nemeth did not return for the final two periods.

"[It's] just [his] upper body," Ruff said of Nemeth. "I would anticipate hopefully that he's back for the game in Anaheim."

Getzlaf's absence was felt by the Ducks in several areas.

"[We missed him] everywhere, he's one of the elite players in the NHL," Boudreau said. "You miss him in the offensive zone. You miss him on the boards. You miss him as a leader. You miss him in a lot of ways."

Benn's goal came when he won a faceoff against Perreault in the neutral zone and raced up the ice, beating Andersen top-shelf on the short side for his third of the playoffs.

Dallas outshot Anaheim 16-3 in the second period.

The Stars created a solid opportunity off the rush early in the third, but an Eakin wrist shot deflected hard off the far post 58 seconds into the period.

Eakin didn't miss on his next attempt; he beat Andersen to the far post with a wrist shot at 6:22 to give Dallas its first lead. It was Eakin's first career playoff goal.

Goligoski found the back of the net 2:07 later when he beat Andersen with a wrist shot from the slot. Fiddler made a solid backhand pass to Goligoski, who quickly finished to give Dallas a two-goal cushion.

"[That was a] great pass by Fiddler," Goligoski said. "Backhand soft pass with a one-goal lead in the third, gutsy play, but he plays the same way all the time."

Hiller made one save in relief of Andersen before leaving the ice with 1:44 remaining for an extra attacker.

Andersen knows if he gets the nod in Game 5 he needs to do one thing between now and Friday.

"[I need to have a] short memory. That's the only thing I need to do now," Andersen said. "Be ready for next game back in Anaheim and that's what I'm focusing on now."

Getzlaf wasn't the only high-profile absentee for Anaheim. Teemu Selanne was a healthy scratch, a decision Boudreau stands behind.

"It wasn't easy," Boudreau said. "I knew exactly what was going into it and I knew the reaction. And if I was a fan, I'd probably be upset too. He's an icon and one of the greatest players ever to play the game, but I just thought we're going to need a physical player along the boards today a little bit more. Emerson [Etem] fits that bill, so the decision was made."

With the series now tied, Ruff views it as a fresh start.

"It's starting from scratch," Ruff said. "We've got to win a game in Anaheim. We've got to be better. I've got to do a better job with the team."

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