DALLAS — A week has made a big difference for the Dallas Stars.
Tyler Seguin scored twice during a four-goal second period and Dallas took over first place in the Western Conference by holding off the Eastern Conference-leading Washington Capitals 4-3 Saturday night.
The victory moved the Stars ahead of Chicago seven days after a 5-1 home loss to the Blackhawks dropped Dallas five points behind them.
“That was a tough loss for us,” captain Jamie Benn said. “We got embarrassed. It wasn’t fun at the time, which was probably the game of the year for us. We regrouped.”
And how. The Stars won in overtime at Minnesota. They then took 4-0 leads at Chicago and against Washington before allowing two third-period goals against the Blackhawks and three against the Capitals. Chicago went 0-2-1 during the week. Each team has 77 points, but with three games in hand, the Stars have a higher points percentage.
“I think we’re close,” Benn said. “Obviously, those are two pretty good teams that we beat, so we’re a confident group in here.”
Dallas coach Lindy Ruff was impressed.
“I thought we played a heck of a game,” he said. “These last two games — they’re both good teams, and we won them both. And I’m pleased with that.”
Seguin has 30 goals this season. Jamie Benn scored his 29th, and rookie Mattias Janmark started the scoring with his 11th.
Seguin was not available for comment because he was cut by a skate in the third period and was getting stitches after the game.
The damage was already done.
“Second period, we self-destructed,” Washington coach Barry Trotz said. “Too many turnovers, light on the puck.
“… We had some push in the third and played the right way, the way that we felt we needed to play to have success against Dallas. We got it within a puck, but we lost the game totally in the second period.”
The Capitals had a chance to tie the game with 36 seconds to play, but Tom Wilson‘s shot from the slot hit the left post.
“We’re asking (Holtby) to make saves, and he makes some incredible saves for us and he covers up a lot of our mistakes,” Trotz said, “but I was tired of him covering up the mistakes.”
Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen stopped 20 shots.
Two of Washington’s 10 regulation losses this season were against the Stars, who have won nine straight against the Capitals dating back to Nov. 25, 2008.
On a 2-on-1 rush in the second, Janmark took a pass from Ales Hemsky below the left faceoff circle and shot past Holtby into the upper right corner of the net at 1:55.
Barely 5 minutes later, Patrick Eaves set up Benn with a backhand pass through the goal mouth. The net was so open that Benn was able to whiff on one shot, recover and score from low in the right circle.
The lead grew to 3-0 when Nemeth sent Seguin into the Capitals end. When no defender picked him up, Seguin sent a shot from the right circle between Holtby’s legs.
Seguin scored again at 19:23. With the Stars on a 5-on-3 power play, he put in the rebound of John Klingberg‘s shot.
NOTES: Dallas C Cody Eakin (undisclosed injury) also left in the third period. With Travis Moen going on injured reserve Saturday, Ruff said the Stars would add a forward for this week’s three-game road trip. … The Capitals and Dallas entered the game first and second in the league in goals for, goal differential, shooting percentage and most important, points percentage. … Eaves has eight of his 12 points this season in the past five games (four goals, four assists). … Holtby entered the game 27-1-3 since Nov. 12, with the only regulation loss Jan. 16 at Buffalo. … Kuznetsov passed the league’s concussion protocol and played Saturday after leaving Thursday night’s game early. … Nemeth’s two assists tied his career high. He has five of his nine career points (all assists) in the last five games he has played.