The Dallas Stars ran their winning streak to four games Saturday night with a 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes at American Airlines Center. But it was an adventure.
The Stars were, perhaps, playing their best game of the season for almost 40 minutes as they built a 4-0 lead over the Hurricanes. But Carolina scored late in the second to gain a little momentum and then dominated the third period, cutting the lead to to one goal and forcing the Stars to hang on for the win.
"That's the league for the past four or five years. No lead is ever safe," said Stars defenseman Dan Hamhuis. "It's great that we were able to hang onto that and there are a lot of lessons we can learn from that. It's nice to learn lessons on the fly and when you are winning."
Tyler Pitlick scored two goals, and Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin also scored for the Stars. Radek Faksa chipped in two assists. Faksa's line with Pitlick and Antoine Roussel on the wings had a big night for the Stars, producing a couple of goals and having a good night on the possession front.
"Faksa's line was the best in the game on either team. Their line was outstanding," said Stars coach Ken Hitchcock. "They controlled the hockey game and did everything we needed them to do. They were outstanding on the forecheck. To have a third line score two goals in a game like this is just outstanding."
Video: CAR@DAL: Pitlick jams home one-timer in close
Ben Bishop came up with another big game, turning away 36 shots for the Stars who improved to 5-3-0 on the season and 4-1-0 at home.
"He's been outstanding for us this year. He gives the team a lot of confidence," Hamhuis said. "He's a real competitor. The thing people probably don't know is how much he talks. He talks a ton out there helping the defensemen. He's another set of eyes out there letting us know what to do. And there's his ability to play the puck.
"It's like having a sixth player out there at times."
Jeff Skinner scored two goals for the Hurricanes who fell to 3-2-1 on the season.
"I think we've got to learn the lesson that you can't dig that big of a hole," Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. "You've got to be ready to start, and you've got to be ready to start at the first drop of the puck."
The Stars jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first 20 minutes. Benn opened the scoring at the 7:58 mark, taking a drop pass from Alexander Radulov off the rush and scoring off a wrist shot to put the Stars up 1-0.
Video: CAR@DAL: Benn goes bar down to finish the rush
Pitlick made it a 2-0 game at 18:07 of the first, crashing the net to put home the rebound of a Hamhuis shot off the rush, diving over Carolina goaltender Scott Darling as he pushed the puck into the net.
"It's been a dangerous spot for me this year. I had a backflip earlier and the 360 tonight," Pitlick said. "It was a good play overall by everyone. Roussel let a pass go between his legs to Hamhuis, and Hamhuis got the shot, Faksa tipped it, and then I was there to put it in."
The Stars kept pouring it on in the second period. After a strong Dallas penalty kill, Seguin came out of the penalty box, took a pass from Esa Lindell and roofed a shot on a breakaway to make it 3-0 at the 5:24 mark.
A little more than two minutes later, Pitlick scored his second of the night to make it a 4-0 game. Roussel raced to the end boards on a strong forecheck and centered the puck to Pitlick who pushed it past Darling from close range at 7:46 of the second.
"Roussel made a heck of a play getting in on the forecheck," Pitlick said. "He got the puck and put it right on my tape. I just shot it. Shot it hard."
Carolina cut into the lead late in the second when Skinner put a shot on net from close range and then scored on the rebound to make it a 4-1 game with 9.9 seconds left in the period.
Video: Hitchcock on win over Canes
"The late goal in the second gave us a little bit of life and a little bit of belief," Peters said.
Skinner struck again at 5:53 of the third to make it a 4-2 game, scoring on the rebound of a Noah Hanifin shot. The Stars challenged for goaltender interference on the play, lost the challenge and lost their timeout as a result.
Carolina went on a power play with 6:39 remaining and Bishop came up with a big save on Staal to keep the Hurricanes from pulling to within one goal. But just three seconds after the power play expired Bishop got tangled up with Hamhuis and Staal scored into a wide-open net to make it a 4-3 game with 4:36 remaining.
The Hurricanes kept pushing and got one more power play chance with 2:49 left, but couldn't get the equalizer and the Stars survived with a 4-3 victory.
"We're building our belief as a team. We're building our belief in winning. I think we've all bought into the system," Hamhuis said. "Our system's one that's going to allow us to win and give us a good chance when we're executing properly. On tonight, it's great to get the win, and I think a lot of great things got us there. But at the same time, there's certainly a lot of corrections I think we'll see, especially in the third period."
This is the first four-game winning streak for the Stars since March 26-April 2, 2016.
The Stars have won four straight games at home.
The Hurricanes outshot the Stars 39-26 and had a 72-46 advantage in shot attempts.
John Klingberg led the Stars with four shots on goal and eight shot attempts.
The Stars were 0-2 on the power play and 3-3 on the penalty kill.
The Stars won 37 of 62 faceoffs (60 percent). Tyler Seguin won 16 of 24 (67 percent). Martin Hanzal won 7 of 12 (58 percent).
Tyler Pitlick and Stephen Johns were both a plus-three on the night.
The Stars blocked 21 shots and were led by Johns with five.
Klingberg led the Stars with 24:15 of ice time.
The Stars practice in Frisco on Monday and then hit the road for their first extended trip of the season, playing at Colorado, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, and Winnipeg over a span of ten days.
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Devin Shore - Mattias Janmark - Jason Spezza
Remi Elie - Martin Hanzal - Brett Ritchie
Antoine Roussel - Radek Faksa - Tyler Pitlick
Marc Methot - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Stephen Johns
Esa Lindell - Julius Honka
Scratched: Jamie Oleksiak, Greg Pateryn, Gemel Smith
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 Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.