ANAHEIM, Calif. – Stephane Robidas knew the Dallas Stars were overdue for a big offensive game, and Ryan Getzlaf figured the Anaheim Ducks couldn’t keep up their torrid pace forever.
Jamie Benn had a goal and two assists in his return from a five-game absence, Michael Ryder also had a goal and two assists, and the Stars slowed the Ducks’ roll with a 6-2 victory Wednesday night in Dallas’ first game back from the all-star break.
Eric Nystrom, Vernon Fiddler, Robidas and Sheldon Souray also scored for the Stars, who beat Anaheim in back-to-back meetings eight days apart. Dallas hadn’t scored more than two goals in any of its last six games, while Anaheim hadn’t allowed more than two goals in nine straight games—but the Stars headed into the second half of the season with a fully healthy roster and a blowout win.
“We’ve had trouble scoring goals lately, but we’ve got all our guys back and healthy, and that makes a big difference,” said Robidas, who ripped a slap shot past Jonas Hiller for his third goal of the season. “We wanted to come out strong after the break, and we’ve got to keep moving forward like this if we want to make the playoffs.”
Kari Lehtonen made 33 saves for the Stars, who peppered Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller and took a 3-1 lead in the first period when Benn scored in his return from an emergency appendectomy after playing his first all-star game last weekend.
Benn and captain Brenden Morrow both returned to the Stars’ lineup after injuries. Morrow missed the Stars’ previous meeting with Anaheim because of an upper-body injury.
Dallas’ two wins over Anaheim are the Stars’ only victories since Jan. 12 and the Ducks’ only games without earning a point since Jan. 4. The Stars, who have won four of five against their Pacific Division rivals this season, threw out the game plan they used at home last week while clinging to a fluke goal for a 1-0 victory over the Ducks.
“We were a little more in an offensive mode,” Souray said. “We were thinking more about scoring. The last game, we just wanted to keep it close. We worked hard, and we got a few bounces as well.”
Dallas, which began its post-break schedule in a three-way tie for 10th place in the conference standings, is hoping to avoid another skid after the all-star festivities. The Stars went 1-8-1 out of the break last season, missing the playoffs for the third straight year.
Matt Beleskey and Luca Sbisa scored, and Hiller stopped 20 shots as Anaheim lost for just the third time in 12 games, snapping a six-game home winning streak. The Ducks hadn’t allowed six goals since Nov. 25 against Chicago.
“We didn’t play that awful,” said Getzlaf, who hasn’t scored in three games. “We made a few mistakes, and they cost us. … We’re not going to win every single game for the rest of the year. We’re on such a high, and you can’t let it get too low.”
Getzlaf remains “100 per cent” confident the Ducks can still make the playoffs, but after 50 games, Anaheim is 10 points out of eighth place in the conference standings. Anaheim went 9-2-1 during a dynamite January, but is still stuck in 13th place in the West because its first three months were horrible, leading to coach Randy Carlyle’s firing.
“We played bad tonight. It wasn’t fun to watch,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. “When you raise your own bar by the standards … that I thought our team had set, we weren’t anywhere near as good as we should be. We had a lot of shots, but we didn’t have a lot of second shots. We lost battles, and when you lose 1-on-1 battles, you lose games.”
The thrashing was a surprise for the Ducks, who hadn’t allowed more than two goals in any of their previous nine games. They opened their post-break schedule with a dominant 4-1 win at Phoenix on Tuesday night, but regressed to their early-season form in the opener of a four-game homestand.
Nystrom, Fiddler and Benn scored 3:54 apart in the first period for the Stars, erasing Anaheim’s early lead after Beleskey’s shot caromed off Robidas’ stick and floated over Lehtonen’s shoulder.
Robidas scored just 11 seconds into a second-period power play. Sbisa scored his third goal on a pass from Teemu Selanne moments later, but Souray scored 36 seconds into the third period.
Ryder, who hadn’t scored in the Stars’ previous six games, punctuated his fourth three-point game of theseason with a goal in the final minutes.
NOTES: Ducks RW Corey Perry played in his 500th NHL game, and F Bobby Ryan played in his 300th. … Before the game, Anaheim recalled RW Kyle Palmieri from its AHL affiliate in Syracuse. … Dallas D Philip Larsen played regularly after returning from the minors on Monday.