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James Neal Leads Stars Stars Past Hurricanes 4-1

(Sports Network) – James Neal posted two goals and Jamie Benn notched a goal and an assist to give Dallas a 4-1 victory over Carolina at the RBC Center.

Kari Lehtonen had 27 stops between the pipes for Dallas, which has won four straight to match its longest streak of the season. The Stars have now won six of their last eight contests overall to keep them atop the Pacific Division. Steve Ott also lit the lamp for the victors.

Eric Staal had the lone goal for the sputtering Hurricanes, who have dropped two straight and seven of their last nine. Cam Ward fended off 29-of-33 shots in the loss.

“We just didn’t have our jump tonight,” Staal said. “We weren’t fast enough and we weren’t quick enough… We have to try and work to get the first goal of the game… Tonight is one of those nights where it would have been nice to get an early goal, but it didn’t happen.”

Dallas opened the scoring midway through the first period. Jeff Woywitka dumped the puck in from the blue line that was collected behind the net by Loui Eriksson. He then found a wide-open Neal in the right circle, who wristed it top shelf.

Seconds after a killing a Woywitka high-sticking penalty, Dallas went on a 3-2 rush that was led by Trevor Daley. After missing the first shot, Benn centered it to Ott, who fired it past Ward for a 2-0 edge only 2:46 into the second period.

The Stars extended their margin to three 93 seconds later when Nicklas Grossman weaved his way through mid-ice and dropped it off to Neal. He then ripped a shot from the point, sailing just wide of the net and it bounced off the end boards. Following his own shot, Neal put the disc in the back of the net to blow the game open.

Staal put Carolina on the board during 4-on-4 play by stealing the puck deep in the defensive zone. He then raced down the left side and ripped a shot from the circle past Lehtonen with 12 minutes left in the second.

Nearly 3 1/2 minutes into the final period the lead was pushed to three again on Benn’s goal. Mike Ribeiro led a rush before passing the puck to Brenden Morrow, who ripped a shot from in tight. Benn stashed the rebound into an open net.

Game Notes

Ward fell to 2-2-0 in his career against the Stars…Benn has scored in three straight games…Carolina defenseman Ian White finished with a minus-3 rating.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.