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Patrick Eaves scores twice, Dallas Stars sink Carolina Hurricanes

By Stephen Hunt, The Sports Xchange
Patrick Eaves scores twice, Dallas Stars sink Carolina Hurricanes
Dallas Stars' Patrick Eaves. (Edmonton Oilers/YouTube)

DALLAS -- Mired in a four-game losing streak, the Dallas Stars were desperate for a win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

And thanks to two goals from Patrick Eaves and a 22-save performance from Kari Lehtonen, Dallas returned to the win column with a 5-2 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday afternoon at American Airlines Center.

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Appearing in his 600th career game, Eaves first scored in the opening period and added a second tally late in the middle frame, giving him a career-high 21 goals this season.

"It just kind of happened tonight, it's pretty cool," Eaves said of setting a career high in his 600th game.

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Esa Lindell, Curtis McKenzie, who also had an assist for the first two-point game of his career, and Adam Cracknell also scored for Dallas (22-24-10). Captain Jamie Benn added two assists.

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Dallas has now won seven of its last eight home games against Carolina.

"Finally, we got a little bit of puck luck," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "I thought those early goals, and even McKenzie's goal, effort was good but you've got to get a little bit of luck at the same time. (Today) I thought we got that."

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Rookie Sebastian Aho and Justin Faulk scored for Carolina (24-22-7), which also got two assists each from Elias Lindholm and Jordan Staal.

Lindell gave Dallas an early lead with his fifth goal, an unassisted tally, 51 seconds into the game. Off a faceoff inside the Stars zone, Lindell poked the puck away from Jaccob Slavin at the Dallas blue line.

Lindell was then off the races, dashing up the right side of the ice before beating Cam Ward (22 saves) far post with a wrist shot from the right circle.

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Dallas doubled its lead when Eaves scored his 20th goal 5:49 into the opening period. Benn started the sequence by firing the puck off the boards behind the Carolina goal. Cody Eakin tipped the puck into the slot, where Faulk was unable to gain possession and Eaves knocked it in to make it 2-0.

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"Jamie (Benn) made a great play at the blue line, I wasn't really sure what he was going to do there," Eaves said. "(Eakin) was flying, I was just trying to keep up with him."

The Stars added a third goal 22 seconds later when McKenzie scored his fourth goal, also an unassisted tally. McKenzie's shot, which resembled more of an attempted pass, deflected in off the stick of Matt Tennyson.

"No, no excuses for it, no reason for it," Faulk said of Carolina's slow start. "It just kind of happened. We got to be better as a group to make sure that can't happen."

Dallas led 3-0 after one period and 4-1 after two periods.

"You don't go on the road and give up those types of goals that easy and then come back," Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said of his team's slow start.

Carolina got on the board 5:06 into the second period when Aho scored his 17th goal from the right circle. Aho received a Lindholm pass from behind the Dallas goal and one-timed it inside the far post to make it 3-1.

"The Staal line (with Aho and Lindholm) was very good here tonight, it was engaged in what they were trying to get accomplished and the other three lines weren't really as good as they needed to be," Peters said.

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Eaves added a second tally, his 21st, with Dallas on the power play with 2:51 remaining in the second period. Eaves roofed a backhand pass by Radek Faksa from behind the Carolina goal top shelf and far post.

"He deserves a lot of credit," Benn said of Eaves. "He's been putting in a lot of work this year, saves all his energy for the games. He's a hard-working guy. It's good to see him scoring goals."

Faulk knocked in a rebound 5:13 into the third period with Carolina on the power play to make it a 4-2 game. Lehtonen denied the initial attempt by Lindholm from the slot but lost track of the puck and when it popped free from under his left pad, Faulk was waiting at the near post to knock it in.

Cracknell scored his seventh goal with 9:41 remaining when he knocked the puck into the air at the far post and it deflected in off the back of Ward's shoulder.

Peters used his coach's challenge on the goal, asserting Ward had been interfered with. However, following a short review, the goal stood.

Carolina will have five days off before beginning a five-game homestand Friday against Colorado.

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"We need to get some wins from those home games. Every point is so important right now," Aho said.

Dallas will complete the back-to-back early Sunday evening in Nashville.

NOTES: The Hurricanes scratched D Klas Dahlbeck, D Ryan Murphy and RW Ty Rattie. ... The Stars scratched RW Jiri Hudler and D Patrik Nemeth. ... The Stars announced that they will retire the number of RW Jere Lehtinen next season as part of the franchise's 25th season in Dallas. Lehtonen played 875 games, all for the Stars, between 1995 and 2010, and was part of Dallas' 1999 Stanley Cup championship team. ... Scouts from the Avalanche, Bruins, Coyotes, Lightning and Rangers were in the press box. ... The Hurricanes and Stars were playing for the first time this season. These teams meet again April 1 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C. ... The Stars honored longtime equipment manager Steve Sumner, who was working his 2,000th professional game Saturday, before to the game. ... A moment of silence honoring late Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch, who passed away Friday, was held prior to the National Anthem.

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