DALLAS – The Dallas Stars used Trevor Daley’s fortunate bounce to take control of what had been a tight game.
Daley ignited a three-goal flurry over a 1:31 span in the second period, Kari Lehtonen made 14 saves for his 15th career shutout, and the Stars continued their home dominance over the Minnesota Wild with a 4-0 victory on Friday night.
Tom Wandell and Mike Ribeiro added second-period goals for the Stars, 6-0-2 in their last eight games.
Jamie Benn scored a goal in his sixth consecutive game to help Dallas move to fourth in the Western Conference playoff race with 82 points.
Minnesota seemed on the verge of tying the game 1-1 with two minutes of puck possession in the Stars’ zone midway through the second period.
But the Wild didn’t have a shot on goal during that stretch, and it didn’t take long before Daley’s centring pass caromed off the stick of Minnesota’s Kyle Brodziak and by goaltender Jose Theodore to give Dallas a two-goal pad at 15:52 of the second period.
“I had a few options and just threw it to the net and got a lucky bounce,” Daley said.
“We were in the game up to that point,” Minnesota coach Todd Richards said. “I felt we were starting to outplay them somewhat in the second period. But the game got away from us. We gave them goals.”
Wandell scored from the right circle through Theodore’s pads 13 seconds later to make it 3-0, and Ribeiro struck from the slot after a poor Minnesota clearance at 17:23.
“We had a great end to the second period and I give our guys a lot of credit because I think they smelled the blood in the water, so to speak, and they really did have a killer instinct at the end of that second period,” Stars coach Marc Crawford said. “We put together about four or five really good shifts in a row and when we got our chances, they ended up burying them.”
Lehtonen took care of the rest with a relatively light workload, completing his first shutout in his 67th game for the Stars.
“I wasn’t really thinking about (a shutout) that much anymore because it didn’t seem like it was ever coming, but it was nice,” Lehtonen said. “There was not much going on there the whole game, so I need to give a ton of credit to our guys and how well they played.”
The Wild, 0-10-4 in their last 14 road games against the Stars, were shut out for the second consecutive night and fifth time overall this season.
Minnesota was beaten 4-0 at Nashville on Thursday night to open a four-game trip.
“No sugar-coating, it’s tough,” Wild centre Matt Cullen said. “This is going to be a good test for our team. We have to respond. We can’t sit here and complain and whine. It’s two tough games.”
The Wild, 2-4-1 in their last seven overall, haven’t won in Dallas since March 21, 2003.
Benn opened the scoring with an outstanding individual effort. Benn took possession of the puck in the neutral zone, skated up the right side and sent a backhand shot past Theodore at 12:02 of the first period.
NOTES: Dallas D Nicklas Grossman (hip) returned after missing 11 consecutive games. Grossman was injured Feb. 13 against Columbus. Before the injury, Grossman was on the top defensive pair with Stephane Robidas. But while Grossman was out, the Stars acquired D Alex Goligoski in a trade with Pittsburgh, and Crawford installed Goligoski on the No. 1 duo with Robidas. Grossman was paired with Karlis Skrastins. … RW Cal Clutterbuck (upper body), D Clayton Stoner (lower body) and D Cam Barker (upper body) were out for Minnesota. … The Wild received two too-many-men penalties in the opening 6:38. … Theodore is 3-11-4 against Dallas. … Stars RW Adam Burish left in the second period with a lower-body injury and did not return. Crawford said Burish will be checked out Saturday and that removing him from the game was more of a precautionary measure.