If the Dallas Stars are going to make the playoffs, they need their best players to produce while also receiving contributions from unexpected...
DALLAS — If the Dallas Stars are going to make the playoffs, they need their best players to produce while also receiving contributions from unexpected sources.
Check and check.
Cody Eakin, Jamie Benn and Ray Whitney scored goals early in the third period to break open a tie game and help the Dallas Stars cruise to a 5-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night.
Vernon Fiddler and Erik Cole also found the back of the net and Kari Lehtonen returned from a three-game absence due to a groin injury to stop 37 shots for the Stars, 6-1-0 in their past seven games.
“We obviously know how tight the standings are,” said Benn, who also added an assist for his second straight two-point night after a seven-game stretch with just two assists. “We had our game in hand tonight and we got the two huge points that we needed.”
Dallas moved into a tie with Detroit for ninth in the Western Conference, two points behind Columbus for the eighth and final playoff spot. The Stars have five games remaining, including one against the Blue Jackets in Dallas and the finale against Detroit at home.
Derek Roy, traded from Dallas at the deadline, scored for Vancouver, which had a chance to clinch a playoff spot with a win. The Canucks lead the Northwest Division by four points over Minnesota.
“We just made some mistakes in the third that ended up in the back of our net,” Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. “They got some momentum and in the third, they obviously made plays and we didn’t. The plays that we didn’t make ended up in the back of our net.”
Cory Schneider made 25 saves for the Canucks, who are 5-2-1 in their past eight outings and concluded a five-game road trip at 2-2-1.
“It’s definitely not good enough, especially down the stretch here,” Schneider said. “If you want to win in the playoffs, you’ve got to protect leads and right now, we’re not as good as we should be at it and not what we expect of ourselves. Whether it’s me coming up with some big saves in the third to preserve it or us as a group just playing harder, we’ve got to find a way.”
• Kyle Turris scored twice and the host Ottawa Senators ended Washington’s winning streak at eight games with a 3-1 victory over the Capitals.
• Martin Brodeur stopped 23 shots for his 121st career shutout, helping to keep New Jersey’s slim playoff hopes alive with a 3-0 win over host Philadelphia.
• Rangers center Brian Boyle missed New York’s game against the Florida Panthers because of a right-leg injury and is expected to sit out at least two more contests in the drive to the playoffs.
• Chicago Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery has a lower-body injury and will not play against Nashville on Friday.
• Defenseman Matt Greene was activated by the Los Angeles Kings after injuring his back in the defending Stanley Cup champions’ season opener.