Jamie Benn scored two goals to give him a career-best 36, and the Dallas Stars took sole possession of first place in the Western Conference by rallying for a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.
Benn’s winning goal 11:50 into the third period came about 2 minutes after Stephen Johns’ first NHL goal as the Stars dropped the Lightning to 31-2-0 when leading after two periods.
Dallas (93 points) is two points ahead of St. Louis atop the West. Both teams have 10 games remaining.
Steven Stamkos had two goals for the Lightning (85 points), who stayed in third in the Atlantic Division and fell four points behind division-leading Florida, a 4-1 winner at Toronto.
Cody Eakin assisted on both third-period goals for Dallas and had three for the game.
Shortly after Johns scored on a low shot from near the blue line that slipped under Ben Bishop’s right leg, Benn put a backhander past Bishop after a give-and-go with Eakin, who took the first pass behind the end line and immediately got it back to Benn.
Benn, who also had an assist, topped his previous career high of 35 goals from last season, when he won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer.
Trailing 3-2 and in danger of a third straight loss since beating Chicago with the West lead on the line, the Stars dominated the final period, outshooting the Lightning 17-4. Kari Lehtonen finished with 17 saves for his fourth win in six starts.
Bishop held up well early in the third period, stopping several good Dallas chances before Johns broke through in his fourth career game. Bishop finished with 29 saves.
Stamkos, who had a pair of goals in a loss to Dallas early in the season, put the Lightning ahead 3-2 in the second period when he redirected a pass from Alex Killorn. It was the second assist for Killorn.
Jason Spezza scored first for Dallas, giving him a goal in seven of the past eight games. He skated ahead of the pack before his shot was initially stopped by Bishop, but the goalie couldn’t control the puck as it bounced over him and slid into the net.
Stamkos gave Tampa a 2-1 lead early in the second period when he ended the team’s drought of 20 straight power plays without a goal and snapped a Dallas streak of 21 consecutive penalty kills.
Benn pulled the Stars even less than 3 minutes later by grabbing an errant pass in his offensive zone with the Lighting in transition, turning and beating Bishop over the shoulder.
NOTES: Former Stars captain Brenden Morrow dropped the ceremonial first puck and was honored with video tributes during the game. He retired earlier in the day in a ceremony at American Airlines Center. … Dallas F Patrick Sharp had a quiet return after missing six games with a lower-body injury. He didn’t have a shot in 14 minutes.
First Period—1, TB, Kucherov 26 (Killorn, Sustr), 12:15. 2, Dal, Spezza 29 (Nichushkin), 14:09. Penalties—Blunden, TB (boarding), 6:42; Callahan, TB, major (fighting), 12:19; Roussel, Dal, major (fighting), 12:19.
Second Period—3, TB, Stamkos 32 (Kucherov, Stralman), 3:15 (pp). 4, Dal, Ja.Benn 35 (Eakin), 5:42. 5, TB, Stamkos 33 (Killorn, Hedman), 17:19. Penalties—Nichushkin, Dal (holding), 1:39.
Third Period—6, Dal, Johns 1 (Eakin, Ja.Benn), 9:42. 7, Dal, Ja.Benn 36 (Eakin, Seguin), 11:50. Penalties—None.
Shots on Goal—TB 6-10-4—20. Dal 7-9-17—33. Power plays—TB 1 of 1; Dal 0 of 1. Goalies—TB, Bishop 29-19-4 (33 shots-29 saves). Dal, Lehtonen 20-9-2 (20-17). A—18,532 (18,532). T—2:30.