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Lehtonen & Benn Lead Stars Past Blackhawks

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Goaltender Kari Lehtonen of the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center on March 9, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. (credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Goaltender Kari Lehtonen of the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center on March 9, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. (credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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DALLAS (AP) – Kari Lehtonen recovered from one of his worst games with one of his best.

Lehtonen made 23 saves for his 16th NHL shutout, Jamie Benn extended his point streak to nine games with a goal and an assist, and the Dallas Stars beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-0 on Thursday night.

Steve Ott, Brenden Morrow, Jason Williams and Brandon Segal added goals for Dallas, which ended a two-game skid.

Mike Ribeiro and Brad Richards had two assists each in support of Lehtonen, who has two shutouts in four games.

In between, however, Lehtonen allowed four goals in a 6-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks and three in an overtime defeat to the Los Angeles Kings during a critical seven-game homestand.

“I didn’t have a great game (against San Jose), so it was nice, plus a little bit of luck, it all paid off,” Lehtonen said. “We’d lost two in a row, so everybody was ready. We played the right way, did things right and were responsible.”

Chicago dropped to 9-2-2 in its last 13 games, leaving coach Joel Quenneville searching for answers to a flat performance.

“Tough one to explain. Nothing good about this game,” Quenneville said. “We should all absorb some responsibility on how bad we were. The importance of this game, and they keep getting bigger, we didn’t respect the urgency.”

Lehtonen had a good night, but he also had plenty of help as the Stars blocked 14 shots and were credited with 26 hits.

“We were really pleased with the way everybody pitched in defensively,” Dallas coach Marc Crawford said. “You look at key elements in our game where we need to have big performances from our defense, our penalty killing and our goaltender, and we got all of those things. And then we got the added output from our forwards being very adherent to how we have to play in the defensive zone.”

The teams are tied for sixth in the conference at 84 points, although the Stars own the tiebreaker based on a 3-1 record against the Blackhawks this season.

Dallas is 5-2-1 against Chicago the past two seasons.

Richards connected with Ott on a long stretch pass, and Ott converted on a breakaway at 17:37 of the first period to stop a 16-game drought.

Benn made it 2-0 at 1:01 of the second, scoring his 21st goal with a one-timer from the right circle off a 2-on-1 break with Ribeiro. Benn has eight goals in nine games, the NHL’s longest current point streak.

Morrow extended the lead at 3:35 of the second on another one-timer from the right circle.

Quenneville then pulled rookie goalie Corey Crawford in favor of former Stars netminder Marty Turco.

Williams gave his team a four-goal advantage at 2:54 of the third when he scored into an open net after intercepting Turco’s attempt at a clearing pass up the right boards. Segal then scored off a rebound with 8:08 left, completing a tough night for the Blackhawks.

“No excuses. We shouldn’t forget this too quickly,” Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said. “One of the toughest games of the year and we had one of the worst performances.”

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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