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Hurricanes cool off previously hot Stars
Raleigh, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - John-Michael Liles recorded a goal and two assists during a second-period barrage that carried the Carolina Hurricanes to a 4-1 win over the Dallas Stars at PNC Arena.
Liles set up scores from Eric Staal and Justin Faulk that staked the Hurricanes to a 2-0 advantage before adding a power-play tally later in the middle session.
"Tonight was his best game," Hurricanes head coach Kirk Muller said of Liles. "With the guys that were out of the lineup, we needed veteran guys to step up, and he was one guy I thought played really well tonight."
Anton Khudobin made the lead stand with a sharp 33-save effort in Carolina's second impressive win in three days. The Hurricanes returned home off Tuesday's 4-1 road decision over Metropolitan Division leader Pittsburgh.
"It's a matter of all getting on the same page, and I think tonight we were all pretty well on the same page," Liles said.
Dallas, which came in having outscored the opposition 16-5 in winning its last three, remained tied with Phoenix for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Stars do have a game in hand on the Coyotes.
Tyler Seguin had Dallas' lone goal. Stars netminder Kari Lehtonen was pulled midway through the second period after letting up three goals on 16 shots, with Tim Thomas stopping 15-of-16 chances in relief.
After the teams battled to a scoreless opening period -- with Khudobin coming up with 13 saves to keep it deadlocked -- the Hurricanes erupted for three goals over the first seven-plus minutes of the second.
The first came on a Liles shot that deflected off Staal and bounced high up into the air before landing behind Lehtonen and over the line, with Staal credited with the goal 2:30 into the stanza.
A penalty to Stars rookie Patrik Nemeth shortly afterward allowed Carolina to extend the margin on Faulk's booming shot that whistled past Lehtonen's glove with 4:08 elapsed in the frame.
The Hurricanes capitalized on another Nemeth penalty less than three minutes after Faulk's score, with Liles making it 3-0 by placing a long wrister through with Jordan Staal successfully screening Lehtonen.
"I didn't like the fact that we weren't able to kill off a couple penalties," said Stars head coach Lindy Ruff."
Dallas cut into the lead on Seguin's 34th of the season, a short-range chip shot over Khudobin's glove that capped a transition rush near the midway mark of the second period, but failed to solve the Carolina goaltender the rest of the way.
Just over a minute after Khudobin stopped Dustin Jeffrey on an in-close attempt, Riley Nash put the game away by connecting on a rebound of Brett Bellemore's long drive with 7:40 elapsed in the final period.
Stars forward Ray Whitney exited in the first period with a lower-body injury and did not return ... Liles notched his first three-point game since Jan. 18, 2011 against Vancouver, while then a member of Colorado ... Carolina had lost four straight to Dallas and earned its first win over the Stars since Dec. 16, 2009 ... Hurricanes forward Alex Semin missed a second straight game due to illness, while defenseman Andrej Sekera was held out with a lower-body injury.
04/03 23:39:44 ET