DALLAS — Patrice Bergeron and the Boston Bruins kept surging under interim coach Bruce Cassidy, moving up in the race for the playoffs that begin in mid-April.
For defenceman Johnny Oduya and the Dallas Stars, the immediate future is much more uncertain.
Bergeron had two goals and an assist as the Bruins beat Dallas 6-3 Sunday, improving to 6-1 since Cassidy took over for the fired Claude Julien. Boston completed a 3-1 road trip.
"When your best players are your best players, you’re a good hockey club," Cassidy said. "We’re no different than any other team out there."
Bergeron has "really found his game and hopefully he stays healthy for us.
"Our top-end guys tonight were winning a lot of pucks and we were able to get on the attack," Cassidy said.
Bergeron won 16 of 22 faceoffs.
"Right from the get-go I thought we were creating a lot of chances in their zone and using our speed," Bergeron said. "Brad (Marchand, one goal, two assists) was finding me a lot for great plays, great looks. When they’re going in, sometimes you try not to think too much and put the puck on net."
Stars coach Lindy Ruff wasn’t surprised.
"Bergeron’s one of the best two-way players. I’ve been around him in a couple Olympics, and he’s a heck of a player. Marchand has gone from mainly known as antagonizer, but he’s really turned himself into a complete player," Ruff said.
Dallas dropped to 24-28-10, 12th in the West.
The Stars welcomed back Oduya, who had missed 15 games because of an ankle injury. He might not stay long, because there’s been speculation about him ahead of Wednesday’s trade deadline.
"That’s something I’m not going to worry about too much," Oduya said. "I know what’s going on in this league and how things work. But when that day comes or not, I’ll be prepared for that."
Stars captain Jamie Benn and Boston forward David Backes began fighting just 2 seconds into the game and drew major penalties. They have a history between — this was the first time they’ve faced each other this season, and it was the third straight year they’ve fought.
The Stars had tied the game in the second period after trailing 2-0. But Frank Vatrano and Bergeron scored on deflections 40 seconds apart in the second, and Bergeron added his 16th goal of the season in the third period.
Marchand, David Krejci scored in the first period for the Bruins. Marchand had two assists and Torey Krug had three assists.
John Klingberg and Jiri Hudler had second-period goals for Dallas, and Tyler Seguin scored in the third.
Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask had 33 saves.
Kari Lehtonen made 22 saves for Dallas. Three of Boston’s goals came on deflections.
"We want our forwards to attack more," Cassidy said, "get to the slot and make some plays off the goal."
Vatrano deflected Kevan Miller’s drive from the right point through traffic past Lehtonen to break a 2-2 tie in the second. Bergeron and Dallas defenceman Jordie Benn became tangled in front of Lehtonen on the Bruins’ fourth goal.
Marchand scored from the left faceoff circle at 5:56 of the first period after taking a pass from behind the net from Bergeron.
Dallas made it 2-all on the first power play of the game. Hudler scored on a snap shot at 11:49 of the second.
Boston regained a two-goal lead less than 4 minutes later when Vatrano and Bergeron scored at 14:41 and 15:21.
NOTES: Dallas D Johnny Oduya returned after missing 15 games because of an ankle injury. … Miller and Dallas LW Curtis McKenzie also fought in the second period. … Marchand has 19 points (10 goals, nine assists) in his past 12 games. … Krejci has eight points (three goals, five assists) in his past seven games. … Krug has eight points (one goal, seven assists) in seven career games against the Stars. … Hudler has 18 points (11 goals, seven assists) in 14 career games vs. Boston. … The visiting team has won the last seven games between the teams, dating back to 2013-14.
Bruins: Begin a three-game homestand on Tuesday against Arizona.
Stars: Play the fourth of five straight home games vs. Pittsburgh on Tuesday.