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Stars recover to hand Capitals second loss in row

by Steve Hunt /

DALLAS -- Antoine Roussel and Jamie Benn scored 16 seconds apart in the third period to help the Dallas Stars to a 5-4 win against the Washington Capitals at American Airlines Center on Saturday.

"That was up and down. We controlled the game, we didn't control the game, we fought back, scored a couple, and then hung on for dear life," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "We made some big mistakes at just critical times of the game."

Erik Cole, Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza each had a goal and an assist, Jyrki Jokipakka had two assists, and Kari Lehtonen made 28 saves for the Stars (20-17-7), who finished a three-game homestand 2-1-0.

"I thought he played great," Ruff said of Jokipakka, who was recalled from Texas of the American Hockey League on Saturday morning after Trevor Daley was ruled out with an undisclosed injury. "Started just a little slow, but I thought he played great. It was a decision whether I was going to play him, but I'm glad I played him because he's got good size."

Eric Fehr, Andre Burakovsky, Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom scored for Washington (24-13-8), which lost 4-3 at the Nashville Predators on Friday.

The Capitals rallied from down 3-0 to tie the game.

"We sort of dug ourselves a hole a little bit obviously," Washington coach Barry Trotz said. "Against a transition team like Dallas, you can't turn it over. I thought we were better as the game went on there. Every time we got away from it, they're in transition."

Dallas scored two quick goals to break the 3-3 tie. Roussel scored his 11th on a tap-in at 3:14, and Benn scored his 13th at 3:30 with a wrist shot that beat Washington goalie Justin Peters high to his short side off the rush.

"Obviously that was disappointing, (the) timing of that," Peters said. "Just gave up a goal. It's tough, but we pushed really hard at the end too."

Peters made 21 saves in his first appearance for Washington since Nov. 29. Braden Holtby had started the previous 21 games.

Backstrom's 14th goal made it 5-4 with 3:26 remaining. He one-timed a pass from Ovechkin from the slot.

The Stars led 3-0 early in the second period. Seguin scored his NHL-leading 27th goal with Dallas on the power play 2:26 into the first, beating Peters with a wrist shot from the slot that went in under the goalie's right shoulder.

Cole redirected a Jokipakka wrist shot from near the Capitals blue line for his 11th goal with 1:42 remaining in the first. A video review determined Cole's stick was at or below the crossbar when he touched the puck.

Spezza scored his eighth goal by tapping in a pass from Cole off the rush 4:13 into the second.

"Yeah, it actually went through me," Peters said of the Spezza goal. "He didn't get all of what he wanted on it. Quick pass across, there with my body, just too anxious. If I was a little more patient, tightened up, it would've hit me."

Washington scored 1:17 later when Fehr beat Lehtonen through the five-hole from the right circle for his 14th goal.

The Capitals made it 3-2 with 3:44 left in the second when Burakovsky roofed a wrist shot into the far side, scoring over Lehtonen's left shoulder from the edge of the left circle.

"We have a great group of guys here," Backstrom said. "Even if we are down a couple of goals, we're not going to give up and we know there is still a chance. That's something we have in this group, and we have to keep playing that way."

Washington tied it 21 seconds into the third period when Ovechkin scored his 25th goal on a breakaway. Backstrom blocked a shot by Dallas defenseman Alex Goligoski and the carom fell to Ovechkin in the neutral zone. Ovechkin finished with a wrist shot over Lehtonen's left pad.

"They have a high-powered offense," Spezza said of the Capitals. "They got some momentum on us and some quick goals. I thought it was a great response by (Cody) Eakin's line, and then they get a big goal by Jamie (Benn)."

Ovechkin credited Lehtonen for a solid bounce-back performance after being pulled in the second period Tuesday against the Ottawa Senators when he allowed three goals on the first five shots he faced.

"Well, he definitely saved the game in the third period for them," Ovechkin said. "He's a top-level goalie, and when they needed it, he made a save."

Trotz complimented Peters, who had not appeared in an NHL game in 49 days.

"Oh, he was good," Trotz said of Peters. "I looked at all the goals, and there's nothing you can really do. He was solid. He made a couple of huge saves. I don't have any problem with his game. I have more problem with our overall game in segments."

The Capitals have lost back-to-back games for the first time since Nov. 29 and Dec. 2. They host the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday in their final game before the All-Star break, which ends Jan. 26.

"It's huge," Trotz said. "We didn't want to lose today, so it's imperative that we get Tuesday. We have to be hungry. We have to get that game. To me, it's almost like a must game."

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