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Stars clinch playoff berth with win over Blues

The SportsXchange

DALLAS -- Since Trevor Daley is the longest-tenured player on Dallas and the only player remaining from the last time the Stars made the playoffs, it seemed appropriate that he was front and center with a goal and an assist in a 3-0 shutout of the St. Louis Blues on Friday to clinch their first playoff spot in six years.

"It's a great feeling," Daley said. "We've been battling hard for a long time. It's just kind of like a little bit of a relief and we could go in knowing that the next game that we're in and get ready for the playoffs."

Daley, who has been with the Stars since October 2003, scored 5:52 into the second period on a breakaway, beating Blues goalie Ryan Miller top shelf with a backhand for the game's opening goal.

Daley gained possession near center ice after an attempted pass by St. Louis left winger Alexander Steen deflected off the skate of Dallas left winger and captain Jamie Benn.

Daley then poked the puck ahead to put some distance between himself and Blues right winger Dmitrij Jaskin, who was in pursuit. However, Daley dashed through the St. Louis zone and finished with a shot up high for his ninth of the season.

The Stars (40-40-11, 91 points) also received a power-play goal from center Tyler Seguin in the second period and a goal from left winger Ryan Garbutt in the third. Benn had two assists for Dallas, which got 22 saves from goalie Kari Lehtonen, who recorded his fifth shutout of the season and the 27th of his career.

Dallas doubled its advantage to 2-0 at 11:58 of the second when Seguin scored with Dallas on the power play, his 37th goal of the season. Seguin's goal came after a nice pass through the St. Louis crease by Benn, a feed Seguin finished with a one-timer that he tucked perfectly inside the far post.

The Stars had gone on the power play just 10 seconds earlier after Jaskin was called for hooking on Stars center Cody Eakin.

Dallas outshot the Blues 21-6 in the middle frame.

"I am so damn happy," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "Our team played awesome. I was worried that we were a little tight to start the game but man did we start to skate and did we start to compete. I've got to give my club credit for putting up the battle they did. When we had the chance to put them down, we put them down and we took advantage of a team that had seven or eight of their players out of the lineup."

Garbutt then made it 3-0 when he redirected a blistering slap shot from Dallas defenseman Alex Goligoski past Miller from the left point 4:27 into the third period.

St. Louis, which was without several key players, lost its fifth straight.

"Our goalie was great for us and it was really good to see. Off the back-to-back, we had some tired legs as the game went on," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "First period was a good period and then I thought we got on tired legs and really had a difficult time."

About the only negative from this game for Dallas was news that defenseman Brenden Dillon had to leave the ice early in the second period with a lower-body injury. Dillon did not return.

St. Louis lost center Patrik Berglund to what appeared to be a shoulder injury in the third period.

"He's out," was Hitchcock's response when asked for an update.

Miller stopped 37 shots for St. Louis.

Dallas' win eliminated the Phoenix Coyotes, who were idle, from playoff contention. Even if Phoenix wins its final two games, including a head-to-head with the Stars on Sunday in Glendale, the best the Coyotes could do was equal the Stars' 91 points, but Dallas holds the first tiebreaker of wins in regulation plus overtime over Phoenix.

The Stars enter the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the second wild-card team in the Western Conference.

NOTES: Blues RW David Backes (lower body), D Ian Cole, D Jordan Leopold, G Niklas Lundstrom, LW Brenden Morrow (lower body), C T.J. Oshie (upper body), C Derek Roy (upper body), C Vladmir Sobokta (lower body) and RW Vladimir Tarasenko (hand) were scratched. ... Stars D Kevin Connauton, C Rich Peverley (irregular heartbeat), D Aaron Rome and LW Ray Whitney (lower body) were scratched. ... St. Louis recalled C Keith Aucoin, RW Adam Cracknell and RW Ty Rattie from AHL Chicago on Friday morning. Rattie was making his NHL debut. ... The second-period goal by Stars D Trevor Daley was his ninth of the season, setting a new career high for the Stars' longest-tenured player. ... Blues C Steve Ott, who centered St. Louis' top line alongside LW Alexander Steen and RW Jaden Schwartz, was making his first appearance in Dallas since being traded in July 2012. ... Announced attendance was 18,532.
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