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Late goal lifts Stars past Panthers, 2-1

Klingberg scores game-winner, Lehtonen makes 41 saves as Stars snap road skid

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

Kari Lehtonen's 41 saves and John Klingberg's game-winning goal with 1:07 left in the third period lifted the Dallas Stars to a 2-1 victory over the Florida Panthers Saturday night at BB&T Center. The win snapped a six-game road losing streak for the Stars, who last won a game away from home on Jan. 17.

"We haven't been thinking too much about our road record lately," said Lehtonen. "It's just come here and compete, work hard and work for each other. We did not think about the past results, and tonight it worked."

Lehtonen was superb in goal making the 41 saves, a season-high. He had a couple of great ones, stopping Aaron Ekblad point-blank late in the second with the game tied 1-1 and then making a great toe save on Thomas Vanek midway through the third period.

"It was nice," Lehtonen said. "There was lots of action, and it kept me going the whole time."

Klingberg's game-winning goal came after a great keep at the blue line by Stars captain Jamie Benn, who knocked down the puck with his hand and then passed it to Tyler Seguin, who set up Klingberg cruising down the slot. The Dallas defenseman then scored off a wrist shot.

"You're looking for your best players to make a difference," said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. "It was a good play keeping it in and a great pass back to Klingberg. His shot found the right spot."

Benn had one goal and one assist and Seguin had two assists for the Stars, who won for the fourth time in six games (4-2-0) and improved to 26-29-10 on the season.

"We did enough to find a way to win, and that's all that really matters when you are playing on the road against a good team," Benn said. "We got a lot of good saves out of our goalie. We got a lucky break at the end and a great shot by Klinger, and there you go."

James Reimer made 32 saves, and Jonathan Huberdeau scored the lone goal for Florida, which lost for the fourth time in its past six games (1-4-1).

"It was tough. It was a tight game, as we expected. Our line, we had quite a few chances we couldn't bury, myself had quite a few chances," said Panthers center Nick Bjugstad. "It's disappointing knowing I could have helped. It's tough losing those games. We needed those points. It's a tough one to swallow right now."

The Stars opened the scoring 11:01 into the game when Benn finished off a nice passing sequence with Seguin and Jason Spezza, tapping the puck into the open side of the net to put the Stars up 1-0.

Florida answered on the power play a little more than five minutes later. Jonathan Marchessault backhanded the puck across the ice to Huberdeau, who rifled it into the net from the right circle at the 16:20 mark.

There were plenty of chances over the final two periods, but both Lehtonen and Reimer were sharp, and it stayed 1-1 until Benn's big play to keep the puck in the zone that led to Klingberg's game-winner, giving the Stars a much-needed win on the road.

Remi Elie impressive in NHL debut

*Forward Remi Elie made his NHL debut Saturday night and he made an impression. The 21-year-old, called up from the AHL on Friday, played 15:29 in the game, had two shots on goal and five shot attempts. He had a couple of good scoring chances and saw 1:00 of penalty kill time.

"I thought he played excellent," said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. "He had three or four opportunities, was hard on the puck. He played a good game for us."

Elie played on a line with center Cody Eakin and right wing Brett Ritchie. Ales Hemsky took Ritchie's spot on the line as the game moved along.

Notes

*The Stars improved to 8-18-4 on the road.

*The Stars allowed fewer than two goals in a game for the first time since Dec. 17, a stretch of 32 games.

*The Panthers outshot the Stars 42-34 and had a 63-52 advantage in shot attempts.

*Tyler Seguin led the Stars with six shots on goal and seven shot attempts.

*Stars captain Jamie Benn is on a six-game points streak (five goals, four assists).

*Stars defenseman John Klingberg is on a five-game points streak (four goals, three assists).

*The Stars were 0-3 on the power play and 2-3 on the penalty kill.

*The Stars won 27 of 58 faceoffs (47 percent).

*Esa Lindell led the Stars with 22:56 of ice time.

What's Next

The Stars wrap up their two-game trip with a game at Washington Monday. This is the second and final meeting of the season between the two teams. The Capitals won the first meeting, 4-3 in overtime, in Dallas on Jan. 21.

Stars Lineup

Jamie Benn - Jason Spezza - Tyler Seguin
Remi Elie - Cody Eakin - Brett Ritchie
Curtis McKenzie - Radek Faksa - Patrick Sharp
Jiri Hudler - Devin Shore - Ales Hemsky

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Stephen Johns
Patrik Nemeth - Jamie Oleksiak

Kari Lehtonen
Antti Niemi

Scratched: Greg Pateryn
Injured: Antoine Roussel (hand), Adam Cracknell (lower body), 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.

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