Dallas 7, Chicago 4

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DALLAS (TICKER) —Despite their offensive outburst, the Dallas Stars understand better defense is needed to make a run at another Stanley Cup.

Defenseman Philippe Boucher broke a tie 5:36 into the third period as the Stars got goals from seven different players and returned to the top of the NHL standings with a 7-4 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.

The game was deadlocked, 4-4, when Pierre Turgeon sent a cross-ice pass to the left faceoff circle for Boucher, who one-timed a shot past sliding goaltender Steve Passmore.

Boucher added an assist on Scott Young’s 15th goal and rookie Niko Kapanen capped the scoring for Dallas, which climbed over Ottawa in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.

“The only positive today was that we got two points and found a way to win,” Boucher said. “But we don’t want to win games like that. … We weren’t happy about our defensive play today. We need to tighten up more than what we did tonight.”

In spite of matching their best offensive output of the season on home ice, the Stars yielded four goals for the fourth time in the last 16 games at the American Airlines Center.

“Some games are pretty and some are pretty ugly. That was pretty ugly,” Stars coach Dave Tippett said. “It was a sloppy, ugly hockey game, but we’ll take the two points and run. … Average goaltending on both sides. It was 5-4 and neither team had gotten to 20 shots.”

Rookie Steve Ott, Jere Lehtinen, Mike Modano and Claude Lemieux also tallied for the Stars, who swept the four-game season series with the Blackhawks.

Kirk Muller collected a pair of assists to reach 600 for his career and help Dallas improve to 16-4-5-1 in the last 26 meetings with Chicago. A season-high 13 different players recorded at least a point for the Stars.

“It’s nice to see that everyone was able to get involved tonight,” Muller said. “We weren’t happy with allowing some of those goals, but seeing other people step up was nice to see.”

Turgeon also had two assists and Kapanen and Lemieux chipped in a goal and an assist apiece.

“We didn’t like how we came out defensively,” Turgeon said. “That’s something that we can’t make a habit of to be successful.”

Sergei Berezin scored twice in a 41-second span of the third period to tie it and Steve Sullivan chipped in two assists, but Chicago’s losing streak reached eight games (0-6-0-2). The Blackhawks remained seven points behind Edmonton for the final Western Conference postseason berth.

“We just can’t get any breaks,” Berezin said. “If we would have held on to that tie, maybe we could have taken something out of it. Every game from now on is a must-win for us.”

The Stars responded each time the Blackhawks threatened.

Mark Bell gave Chicago a 2-1 lead 54 seconds into the middle session. Just 81 seconds later, Lehtinen got a pass in the slot from Kapanen and let go a quick wrist shot that went over a sprawled Passmore.

Lehtinen scored for the fifth straight contest and has five goals and an assist during a six-game points streak.

Berezin’s goals came in the opening 1:50 of the third, making it 4-4 and giving Chicago hope.

“We talked about coming out and playing a solid third period and then we let up a couple of goals,” Tippett said. “We needed to obviously tighten it up and get stronger on the puck.”

Boucher’s tally just under four minutes later deflated the Blackhawks.

“They scored when they had their chances,” Chicago coach Brian Sutter said. “They had four goals from behind the net and everything that they put at the net seemed like it went in.”

Passmore and Dallas’ Ron Tugnutt each made 21 saves.

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Goalie Team Shot Save
Steve Passmore ARI 28 21