Eaves has hat trick, Stuart scores tiebreaker as Red Wings rally to beat Stars

DALLAS – Patrick Eaves and the Detroit Red Wings had a lot of fun—at the Dallas Stars’ expense.

Eaves had three goals for his first career hat trick, giving him six goals in his last seven games, and the Red Wings scored six straight goals in a 7-3 victory over Dallas on Wednesday night.

Normally a checker and penalty killer, Eaves is enjoying his role as an offensive threat.

“It feels good on my stick right now,” Eaves said. “Goalies have to make a save when I shoot the puck. It’s fun right now.”

Goals by Brad Richards, Mark Fistric and Jamie Benn in a 1:14 span of the second period gave the Stars a 3-1 lead. But Eaves struck on the power play after Nicklas Lidstrom scored at even strength to help the Red Wings tie it at 3 entering the final period.

Brad Stuart’s blast from the point at 5:29 of the third period got past goalie Kari Lehtonen, who was screened by Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader.

Kris Draper’s goal from the left circle at 13:23 of the third, and Eaves’ second of the night 44 seconds later gave Detroit a three-goal edge. Eaves completed his hat trick with an empty-netter at 17:46.

Eaves has 11 goals, putting him on pace to surpass his career-high 20-goal season when he was a rookie with Ottawa in 2005-06.

“He can shoot the puck and he likes to shoot it,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “Like anybody who starts scoring, he shoots the puck all the time. Guys that don’t score, they never shoot the puck. They just keep passing and wonder why they don’t score. I’m glad he’s got it figured out.”

Jiri Hudler contributed a first-period power-play goal, and Jimmy Howard made 28 saves for the Wings, 4-1-1 in their last six.

Detroit improved to 52 points to tighten its grip on first place in the Western Conference.

The Red Wings were 2-8-0 in their last 10 meetings with the Stars, winning in Dallas for the first time since Jan. 5, 2008.

Hudler got Detroit on the board at 1:36 of the first period, 12 seconds into the game’s first power play. Teammate Todd Bertuzzi had possession with his back to the net, and he passed to Hudler low in the right circle. Hudler lifted a shot into an open net before Lehtonen could slide over to cover.

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Richards countered on a breakaway at 5:39 of the second period to tie it.

Fistric notched his second goal of the season, and second in two games, on a shot from centre point that glanced off Bertuzzi’s stick and got past Howard at 6:24 of the second.

Benn needed only 29 more seconds to give his team a two-goal pad when he set up in front of the net and converted Mike Ribeiro’s centring pass.

But the Red Wings picked up their intensity with a 15-shot second period.

Lidstrom connected from the slot at 8:56 of the second, and Eaves drew his team even at 3 with a man-advantage goal at 17:38 of the second.

Then came a rare third-period meltdown by the Stars.

“It’s one of those periods you’ve got to move by,” Richard said. “It doesn’t happen every day. It’s unfortunate, but it happens in this game. Very unusual. We’ll learn from it and move on.”

Dallas was coming off Tuesday night’s 4-2 road win at Nashville. The Red Wings had a two-day break, completing a four-game trip.

“We played last night. They were probably over there saying, ‘They’ll be tired. Let’s get on them quick,” Stars captain Brenden Morrow said after his team dropped its third straight at home.

“We worked hard for two periods and put ourselves in position to win a game. We’ve been good in the third period. It wasn’t for lack of confidence or being tired. We just didn’t execute. We got a little too aggressive, took some penalties, over-pursued on some plays and had blown coverage.”

NOTES: Stars D Nicklas Grossman and C Tom Wandell were back in the lineup after missing two games with the flu. … The Red Wings will be without C Mike Modano, the Stars’ career scoring leader, until March due to a lacerated wrist. … Earlier Wednesday, the Stars announced they had signed D Trevor Daley to a six-year contract extension worth US$19.8 million.