The Dallas Stars moved past Sunday's ugly loss to Vancouver and moved up the standings Friday, defeating the St. Louis Blues, 2-1, at American Airlines Center to take over third place in the Central Division.
The Stars, who trailed the Blues by 11 points on Dec. 11, are now tied with them at 72 points, but Dallas holds the third spot based on points percentage (fewer games played). It's the first time the Stars have been among the top three teams in the Central Division since Nov. 5.
[WATCH: All Stars vs. Blues highlights]
"We've been chasing all year, and it's a really good feeling to catch up with them," said Stars forward Mattias Janmark. "Even though there are two points there every game, these games are a little more important, and you want to win them."
Video: STL@DAL: Bishop shows off his quick reflexes on save
Friday's win was no work of art for the Stars who hadn't played since Sunday. The Blues outshot the Stars 29-16 and had a 65-37 advantage in shot attempts but Ben Bishop turned in a superb 28-save effort in net for the Stars and his teammates blocked another 23 shots
"The goalie was the best player in the game for either team," said Stars coach Ken Hitchcock. "And we looked like a team that hadn't played in the league for a week and got away with that part of it, and we had some real gutty performances by some guys especially on the backend."
Bishop, who was coming off a rough start Sunday in which he was pulled during the loss to Vancouver, had several big saves on the night.
Video: STL@DAL: Bishop comes up with clutch save in the 3rd
"After you get pulled you want to come back with a bounce-back game," Bishop said. "I just tried to keep the team in there, and we did a good job of getting a couple of goals. We'll take it. I thought it was a great team effort."
Janmark scored on the power play to stake the Stars to a 1-0 lead early in the second period, and Stephen Johns extended the lead to 2-0 with an even-strength goal midway through the third. The Stars then survived a late goal and push by the Blues.
Jake Allen stopped 14 of 16 shots, and Brayden Schenn scored the lone goal for the Blues (34-22-4) who fell into the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Video: STL@DAL: Klingberg earns 200th point on Janmark's PPG
"They get two fluky goals. We hit I don't know how many posts, crossbars, skates. I know our forwards are frustrated because they played really well," Allen said. "It's disappointing because the points are so valuable right now. They threw two wacky pucks at the net and they both hit our players and go in the net. That's just the way the game goes. It's unfortunate. I thought we played a better game than they did, we just couldn't get a bounce."
There was no scoring in the first period, and quality chances were hard to generate. Tyler Seguin hit the post on Dallas' one power play of the period. Bishop came up with a big stop on a point-blank chance by Alexander Steen with St. Louis on its second power play of the first.
The Stars went on their second power play early in the second and cashed in when Janmark's shot from the left circle deflected in the net off Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson to put Dallas up 1-0 at the 2:42 mark.
Video: STL@DAL: Johns hammers puck by Allen to pad lead
Bishop came up with a couple of big saves late in the second to keep it a 1-0 game, stopping a close-range shot by Brayden Schenn and then turning away a Vladimir Tarasenko bid from the slot.
The Stars made it 2-0 midway through the third period when Johns scored off a blast from the right wall that deflected off the stick of Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo and past Allen at the 10:33 mark.
Bishop and the Stars kept the Blues off the board until late in the game when the Blues went on a four-minute power play after Dallas defenseman John Klingberg took a double minor for high sticking. The Stars killed off the first minor thanks to a huge Tyler Pitlick block on a Steen attempt at the open side of the net. But with Allen off the ice for an extra attacker and the Blues on a six-on-four advantage, Schenn scored from close range to make it a 2-1 game with 1:14 left.
Video: STL@DAL: Bishop turns aside Schenn's quick shot
But that's as close as the Blues would get, and the Stars held on for the win and moved into the third spot in the Central Division.
"We like to call those 'character wins,' right? That's as cliché as it gets, but it's true," said Stars defenseman Marc Methot. "You're not going to blow teams out every night, and I know we have the offensive ability to do that in this room occasionally. But we know as the heat rises toward the end of the season, going into the postseason, you need to learn how to win these games. I think tonight was a great job.
You can't ignore the fact that we had tremendous goaltending. That was huge, but that's also part of it -- you need good goaltending to go far, and we have that here."
Video: STL@DAL: Bishop stands tall to turn aside Steen
Methot picks up assist in return
Stars defenseman Marc Methot was back in the lineup Friday after missing 41 of the previous 42 games due to a knee injury. Methot played 14:53, including 3:07 on the penalty kill, assisted on Stephen Johns' game-winning goal and got in a fight at the end of the game with Blues forward Brayden Schenn.
"There's no better way to get back into it," said Methot. "There's always a little doubt that creeps into your mind when you've missed a lot of time like I have, but I put in the work. I felt ready. Maybe my timing was off on several plays, but I'll clean that up. Otherwise, I thought it was pretty good. I'm just glad we got the win; that was huge."
Video: Methot discusses first game back from IR
Stephen Johns' goal was his eighth of the season, which is tops among Dallas defenseman.
John Klingberg assisted on Mattias Janmark's goal. It was the 200th career point for Klingberg.
Klingberg led the Stars with 9 shot attempts.
The Stars were 1-4 on the power play and 4-5 on the penalty kill.
The Stars won 28 of 52 faceoffs (54 percent). Tyler Seguin won 12 of 19 (63 percent). Jason Spezza won 5 of 8 (63 percent). Radek Faksa won 4 of 8 (50 percent). Martin Hanzal won 4 of 11 (36 percent).
The Stars blocked 23 shots in the game. Greg Pateryn led Dallas with 5 blocks. Johns was next with 4.
Klingberg led the Stars with 21:49 of ice time.
Video: Hitchcock on home win over Blues
The Stars hit the road, making their first trip to California this season. They'll play San Jose (Sunday), Anaheim (Wednesday), and Los Angeles (Thursday).
Video: Bishop stays stingy in win
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Remi Elie - Radek Faksa - Tyler Pitlick
Gemel Smith - Martin Hanzal - Brett Ritchie
Devin Shore - Jason Spezza - Mattias Janmark
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Greg Pateryn
Marc Methot - Stephen Johns
Scratched: Julius Honka, Jason Dickinson
Injured: Antoine Roussel (back)
Video: Janmark, Johns lead Stars past Blues, 2-1
This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.
Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow him on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.