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Jamie Benn's First Career Hat Trick Powers Stars Past Blues

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Coach Lindy Ruff said the Stars needed a big night from their top line Tuesday night in St. Louis, and they got it. Jamie Benn scored three goals for his first career hat trick, and Jason Spezza chipped in three assists to lead the Stars to a 4-1 victory over the Blues at Scottrade Center.

“It (the hat trick) felt pretty good,” Benn said. “I am just trying to help this team win at a crucial time right now.”

Benn has scored eight goals in 11 games since the All-Star break. He scored twice in the first 8:18 of the game to stake the Stars to a 2-0 lead. Just 20 seconds after Benn’s second goal, Cody Eakin tallied to give the Stars a commanding 3-0 lead. Benn ripped a shot into the net with the Stars on a power play in the second period to push the lead to 4-0 and notch the hat trick.

“I was surprised when I got here and heard that he hadn’t got one,” Spezza said. “It was nice to see him get it.”

“Is that his first career hat trick? So he is two behind me or something like that,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff joked. “I didn’t realize that. That’s his first career hat trick. Wow. That’s awesome. That is well-deserved. He played a heck of a game. I would have never guessed that he didn’t have a career hat trick.”

Kari Lehtonen was sharp in goal for the Stars, stopping 27 of 28 shots. Lehtonen is 4-0-0 in his last four starts with a 1.49 goals-against average and .959 save percentage (139 saves on 145 shots).

“It’s been going very well the past couple weeks,” Lehtonen said. “Hopefully, I can keep it up.”

The win pulled the Stars, who have won four of their last five games, to within four points of San Jose for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Stars and Sharks meet Thursday at American Airlines Center.

The Blues had a three-game winning streak snapped and lost in regulation for just the third time in their last 19 games.

“This is a team that wasn’t ready to compete. We weren’t ready from the start,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “Dallas has had the advantage on us early the previous two games and we’ve had to mount comebacks to be competitive. It’s concerning.”

The Stars blitzed the Blues early, scoring three times on their first six shots in the first 8:38 of the game to chase Blues starter Brian Elliott from the net. After a Dallas faceoff win, Benn got the puck at the point, skated into the slot and scored off a blast from the slot 2:47 into the game.

“[Video coach] Kelly Forbes drew up the faceoff play that we scored on initially,” Ruff said. “Got to give him some credit.”

After a nice play by Erik Cole at the Dallas blue line put the Stars on an odd-man rush, Spezza set up Benn, and the Dallas captain made it a 2-0 game at the 8:18 mark. Just 20 seconds later Eakin put home the rebound of a Ryan Garbutt backhand shot, and it was 3-0.

“It was a great start for us. Before I needed to do anything it was 3-0,” Lehtonen said. “We just kept playing after that and it was a nice win.”

Benn made it a 4-0 game at 3:39 of the second, beating Blues goaltender Jake Allen with a wicked wrist shot from the right circle with Dallas on the power play.

Lehtonen made 13 saves in the second, including stops on Vladimir Tarasenko and Dmitrij Jaskin on separate St. Louis power plays.

“Those were the difference make because that would have given St. Louis a little bit of life,” Ruff said. “Those were big saves for us.”

The Blues did finally get on the board with 7:30 remaining in the third period when Patrik Berglund scored from the slot to make it a 4-1 game. The goal spoiled Lehtonen’s shutout bid, but not the stellar performance rolled out by the Stars.

“I thought we played a real good game,” said Ruff. “We jumped on them early and then just the structure of our game was great. They played hard. … That was one of our better all-around games the whole year.”

Moen injured; Sceviour suffers broken nose but returns

Stars forward Travis Moen left Tuesday’s game midway through the third period and did not return. He has an upper body injury.

“Moen missed the end,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “He’s dealing with an upper body injury and we’ll see what that looks like tomorrow.”

Stars forward Colton Sceviour left the game for a time after getting hit hard by Blues defenseman Barret Jackman in the neutral zone during the first period. Sceviour did return later in the game.

“I thought Sceviour gutted it out,” Ruff said. “He broke his nose and ended up coming back. He played hard, and I have to give him a lot of credit. Maybe other players would have called it a night. He came back and gave us a good 40 minutes.”

Notes

*Stars captain Jamie Benn had 17 two-goal games before finally getting his first NHL hat trick Tuesday night.

*Benn has scored eight goals in 11 games since the All-Star break.

*Jason Spezza ran his points streak to six games (three goals, seven assists).

*The Stars were 1-3 on the power play and 3-3 on the penalty kill.

*The Stars are 9-9 on the penalty kill over the past four games.

*The Stars won 23 of 57 faceoffs (40 percent).

*Vernon Fiddler won 5 of 12 draws (42 percent). Jason Spezza won 6 of 16 (38 percent). Cody Eakin won 6 of 18 (33 percent).

*Alex Goligoski led the Stars with 24:54 of ice time.

*The Stars have won four straight games in St. Louis and are 2-0-1 overall vs. the Blues this season.

Stars lineup

Jamie BennJason SpezzaErik Cole
Antoine RousselCody EakinRyan Garbutt
Curtis McKenzieVernon FiddlerBrett Ritchie
Travis MoenShawn HorcoffColton Sceviour

Alex GoligoskiJohn Klingberg
Jyrki JokipakkaTrevor Daley
Jordie BennJason Demers

Kari Lehtonen
Jhonas Enroth

Scratched: David Schlemko

Injured: Ales Hemsky (lower body), Tyler Seguin (knee), Patrick Eaves (concussion), Valeri Nichushkin (hip), Patrik Nemeth (arm)

This story was not subject to the 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.

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