Patrick Eaves made the most of his 600th career NHL game Saturday, scoring two goals to help lead the Dallas Stars to a 5-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes at American Airlines Center.
Eaves' two goals - his 20th and 21st of the season - set a new career-high as the Stars (22-24-10) snapped a four-game losing streak.
"It kind of just happened tonight. It's pretty cool," Eaves said of setting the new career mark in goals for a season. "We just wanted to play well after the road trip we had and play a full 60 minutes. I thought we did a lot of things right tonight."
Eaves, who has been slowed by injuries at times in his career, has played in 55 of 56 games this season, setting not only the career-high in goals but points as well (35). He's battled through injury again this season but has stayed off the ice during a majority of practices and morning skates to work out off the ice and be ready to play in games.
"He deserves a lot of credit. He's put in a lot of work this year," said Stars captain Jamie Benn. "He's a hardworking guy. A lot of people don't see what he does on his days off. It's paying off, and it's good to see him scoring goals."
Esa Lindell, Curtis McKenzie and Adam Cracknell also scored goals, and Kari Lehtonen stopped 22 of 24 shots for the Stars who hope to build off this win as they get ready to head back out on the road. The Stars scored three goals in first 6:11 of the game on their way to Saturday's victory.
"I think we've shown [what we can do] more than once this year," Benn said. "That's why it's frustrating that we can't string a winning streak together. We need to bring an effort like that every night. We really have no excuse."
The Hurricanes (24-22-7) lost their second straight game and have been outscored 10-2 in the two losses.
"You don't go on the road and give up those types of goals that easy and then come back," said Hurricanes coach Bill Peters.
The Stars struck early and often to build a 3-0 lead. Lindell scored on a two-on-one rush to put the Stars up 1-0 just 51 seconds into the game.
"I was surprised to have a two-on-one there," Lindell said, adding he had one thing on his mind. "I'd rather shoot on those."
The Stars made it 2-0 at the 5:49 mark when Benn fired the puck off the end boards, Cody Eakin poked it towards the net and Eaves pushed it past Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward.
"[Benn] made a great play off the boards there, and Eakin was flying," Eaves said. "So, I just kind of took off and tried to keep up with him and he chipped it right over to me."
Just 22 seconds later, McKenzie scored off the rush when his attempted pass deflected off a Carolina stick and into the net and the Stars had a 3-0 lead 6:11 into the game.
Carolina's Sebastian Aho scored to make it a 3-1 game, tallying off a one-timer from the left circle at 5:06 of the second. But the Stars answered late in the second on the power play. Eaves scored from the slot to put Dallas up 4-1 at the 17:09 mark.
Carolina's Justin Faulk scored on the power play, putting in a rebound to cut the Dallas lead to 4-2 at 5:13 of the third. The Stars countered a little more than five minutes later when Cracknell attempted a wrap-around, the puck hit a Carolina stick and went up in the air and over Ward and into the net. Carolina challenged for goalie interference, lost on video review, and it was 5-2 Dallas at 10:19 of the third.
And it stayed that way and now it's onto Nashville, where the Stars kick off a three-game road trip on Sunday.
Stars announce they'll retire Lehtinen's No. 26 next season
The Stars announced Saturday that they will retire Jere Lehtinen's No. 26 next season as part of the team's 25th anniversary celebration.
The three-time Selke Trophy winner as the NHL's top defensive forward spent his entire 14-season NHL career in Dallas where he recorded 514 points (243 goals, 271 assists) in 875 regular-season games. He won the Stanley Cup with the Stars in 1999.
"It's a great honor," Lehtinen said. "I want to thank Tom Gaglardi and the whole Dallas Stars organization for retiring my number. I played my whole career in [Dallas]. I don't know how much I can say. It is unreal."
Lehtinen will join former teammate and linemate Mike Modano in the rafters at American Airlines Center. The Stars retired Modano's No. 9 in 2014.
"Couldn't be better going with Mike, playing with him almost all my years," Lehtinen said. "He showed me how to play top level hockey. Now, everything is kind of closing up together from where we started and playing together. It's a dream come true feeling."
Notes: Spezza close, Hemsky will return before end of season
*Stars coach Lindy Ruff said forward Jason Spezza is getting closer to a return. Spezza, who has missed the past four games with an upper-body injury, will travel on the upcoming road trip.
"Feeling a lot better, actually had a real good day today. I think he's pretty close," Ruff said.
*Defenseman Johnny Oduya (ankle) won't travel on the trip, Ruff said. Oduya has missed the past ten games.
*Ruff also said that forward Ales Hemsky, who underwent hip surgery in late October, willplay before the season is over.
"Hemsky's doing well too," Ruff said. "He wanted to make sure that you guys knew. He just feels you guys never ask about him. He'll play before the end of the year."
*The Stars outshot the Hurricanes 27-24. Carolina had a 54-50 advantage in shot attempts.
*Patrick Sharp led the Stars with 5 shots on goal and 8 shot attempts.
*The Stars were 1-4 on the power play and 1-2 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars won 27 of 58 faceoffs (47 percent). Radek Faksa won 13 of 19 faceoffs (68 percent).
*Stephen Johns led the Stars with 5 hits and 4 blocked shots.
*John Klingberg and Esa Lindell were both a plus-3 for Dallas.
*Klingberg led the Stars with 22:44 of ice time.
The Stars hit the road for three straight games starting with a game Sunday at Nashville. They also play at Winnipeg (Tuesday) and Minnesota (Thursday).
Jamie Benn - Cody Eakin - Patrick Eaves
Antoine Roussel - Radek Faksa - Tyler Seguin
Lauri Korpikoski - Devin Shore - Patrick Sharp
Curtis McKenzie - Adam Cracknell - Brett Ritchie
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Jordie Benn
Jamie Oleksiak - Stephen Johns
Scratched: Jiri Hudler, Patrik Nemeth
Injured: Jason Spezza (upper body), Johnny Oduya (ankle), Ales Hemsky (hip), Mattias Janmark (knee)
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.