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Stars Continue Strong Late-Season Play with 4-0 Win Over Ducks

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars continue to put together an impressive stretch of hockey as they close out the 2014-15 season. The Stars made it three straight wins with a 4-0 victory over the Anaheim Ducks Wednesday night at Honda Center.

The Stars, who will play their final game of the season Saturday against Nashville at American Airlines Center, are 8-3-0 over their past 11 games and 13-5-0 in their past 18 games.

“You look at the last month, and we’ve been playing some pretty good hockey,” Stars captain Jamie Benn said. “That’s what is frustrating. We know we are a good team when we play the right way, and we can beat most teams in the league.”

Benn continued his push for the NHL’s scoring title, picking up three assists in the game. Benn now has 83 points, tying him with John Tavares of the New York Islanders and Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins for the league lead. Benn has one game remaining and Crosby and Tavares both have two.

“I’d be lying to say it wasn’t on my mind,” Benn said. “But it’s not really the trophy I was going for this year. With the high expectations our team had this year, we kind of failed. We obviously didn’t make the playoffs and didn’t make our goal.”

Benn leads the NHL in scoring since the All-Star break with 43 points (19 goals, 24 assists) in 35 games.

“I think when we lost Tyler [Seguin to injury] he really picked his game up,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “I think from that point on his season has really gone well. The points are there, the physical play. He’s been on both sides of special teams and he’s done a real good job for us.”

Patrick Eaves scored two goals and Vernon Fiddler and Jordie Benn also scored for the Stars. Jhonas Enroth stopped 19 shots for his first shutout as a Star and his third straight win.

“It was great. I think the whole team played pretty well in front of me,” Enroth said. “I don’t want to say it was an easy game, but my teammates made it pretty easy for me tonight. It’s a little bit more special to get the first shutout as a Star. It’s definitely something to remember.”

The Stars finished the road portion of their schedule with eight wins in their final nine games away from home. They were 24-15-2 (50 points) on the road this season. The 24 road wins were the second most in franchise history. The 2005-06 team won 25 road games.

“We’ve played better defensively on the road. We’ve had a flair for offensive passion at home, which has hurt us and on the road we’ve been able to keep the game a little simpler,” Ruff said. “Tonight we really skated well and moved the puck well. They were a step behind trying to keep up with us.”

Anaheim lost its second straight game and missed out on an opportunity to clinch the top seed in the Western Conference.

“It didn’t seem like we had any energy or life,” said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. “I wish I had an answer to why we were that bad after five days of rest.”

After a scoreless first period, the Stars dominated the second. They outshot the Ducks 19-6 and took a 3-0 lead into the second intermission. The Stars struck early in the period. Ryan Garbutt picked off a pass at the Anaheim blue line and the end result was Fiddler scoring off a scramble in front of Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen to put the Stars up 1-0 at the 2:04 mark. Jordie Benn made it 2-0 at the 8:11 mark, scoring off a blast from the point. Jamie Benn picked up a secondary assist on the goal, the first time he has assisted on a NHL goal by his brother.

“That’s what I heard,” Jamie Benn said. “It’s about time he scored after I touched the puck. It only took 25 years.”

The Stars cashed in on a five-on-three power play to extend the lead to 3-0. Jamie Benn set up Eaves, who scored from the slot at 11:25 of the second.

The Stars added one more goal in the third. Jamie Benn won a puck battle along the boards and set up Eaves, who scored from the slot at the 11:44 mark to make it a 4-0 game.

Notes

*Jamie Benn has 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in his past six games.

*Patrick Eaves has scored six goals in his past ten games and seven goals in his past 13 games.

*The Stars outshot the Ducks 32-19 and had a 61-43 advantage in attempted shots.

*Ryan Garbutt and Shawn Horcoff led the Stars with four shots on goal each. Garbutt led the Stars with nine attempted shots.

*The Stars won 35 of 65 faceoffs (54 percent).

*Vernon Fiddler won 7 of 10 draws (70 percent). Jamie Benn won 6 of 9 (67 percent). Cody Eakin won 7 of 13 (54 percent). Jason Spezza won 10 of 25 (40 percent).

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

*John Klingberg led the Stars with 21:41 of ice time.

Stars lineup

Jamie BennTyler SeguinPatrick Eaves

Valeri NichushkinJason SpezzaAles Hemsky

Antoine RousselCody EakinRyan Garbutt

Shawn HorcoffVernon FiddlerColton Sceviour

Alex GoligoskiJohn Klingberg

Patrik NemethTrevor Daley

Jordie BennJason Demers

Jhonas Enroth

Kari Lehtonen

Scratched: Jyrki Jokipakka, Travis Moen

Injured: None


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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