Jamie Benn scored his 40th goal, Antti Niemi made 31 saves and the Dallas Stars beat the Arizona Coyotes 4-1 on Thursday night to move two points ahead in the Western Conference race.
Dallas (103 points) pulled away from second-place St. Louis (101). The Stars have four games remaining, and the Blues have five.
The loss eliminated the Coyotes from playoff contention.
Arizona’s Martin Hanzal scored the game’s first goal 17:07 into the first period, but Dallas tied it less than a minute later on Patrick Eaves’ 10th goal.
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The Stars’ Radek Faksa scored 11 seconds into the second period. Benn’s goal came 10 minutes later, and Patrick Sharp added a power-play goal into an empty net with 1:11 to play.
Benn is the Stars’ first 40-goal scorer since Mike Modano had 50 in 1993-94, the team’s first season in Dallas.
Only Washington’s Alex Ovechkin has more goals this season (44) than the 2014-15 Art Ross Trophy winner.
Niemi’s 16 career wins vs. Arizona are his most against any team.
Mike Smith had 29 saves for the Coyotes.
Dallas’ Ales Hemsky extended his point streak to six games with assists on the two second-period goals. John Klingberg also had two assists, and Benn added an assist on Sharp’s goal.
Hanzal, who scored a goal in each of the three games between the teams this season, left after the first period because of an upper-body injury. The Coyotes also played without their leading scorer, defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, because of illness.
The Stars got big hits early by Stephen Johns on Max Domi 45 seconds into the game and Benn against Zbynek Michalek at 6:11.
Benn’s hit sent him to the penalty box for boarding, along with the Coyotes’ Antoine Vermette for roughing Benn.
Hanzal’s goal came on a snap shot from the slot after passes by Anthony Duclair from the right and Domi from the left pulled Niemi out of position.
Eaves scored with a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle.
Faksa scored off the second-period faceoff. Hemsky passed from behind the net to Faksa in front for his third goal in five games.
▪ Hanzal had three of his 13 goals and two assists in the Coyotes’ three games against Dallas.
▪ Arizona LW Eric Selleck made his NHL debut, and D Alex Grant played in his third game and first with the Coyotes. Each received a fighting major, Grant for a bout with Dallas’ Colton Sceviour in the second period and Selleck against Jordie Benn in the third.
▪ Stars D Kris Russell (lower body) missed his fifth game. C Tyler Seguin (Achilles tendon) remained out but could resume skating next week.
▪ Arizona won the season series 2-1.
▪ Hemsky has seven points (two goals, five assists) during his streak and has 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in his last 12 games.
▪ The Stars have 12 players with 10 or more goals, one away from the franchise record of 13 last achieved in 1993-94. Valeri Nichushkin has scored nine.
First Period—1, Ari, Hanzal 13 (Domi, Duclair), 17:07. 2, Dal, Eaves 10 (Sceviour, Klingberg), 18:05. Penalties—Richardson, Ari (interference), :52; Vermette, Ari (roughing), 6:12; Ja.Benn, Dal (boarding), 6:12.
Second Period—3, Dal, Faksa 4 (Hemsky, Roussel), :11. 4, Dal, Ja.Benn 40 (Hemsky), 10:43. Penalties—Nemeth, Dal (delay of game), 14:55; Grant, Ari, major (fighting), 19:21; Sceviour, Dal, served by Sharp, minor-major (roughing, fighting), 19:21.
Third Period—5, Dal, Sharp 20 (Klingberg, Ja.Benn), 18:49 (en-pp). Penalties—Grossmann, Ari (slashing), 6:04; Selleck, Ari, major (fighting), 12:23; Jo.Benn, Dal, major (fighting), 12:23; Arizona bench, served by Dahlbeck (too many men), 18:14.
Shots on Goal—Ari 8-13-10—31. Dal 11-10-12—33. Power-play—Ari 0 of 2; Dal 1 of 3. Goalies—Ari, M.Smith 14-11-1 (32 shots-29 saves). Dal, Niemi 24-12-7 (31-30). A—18,532 (18,532). T—2:28.