Stars flip script on Ducks, take Game 3

Dallas Stars centre Tyler Seguin shoots the puck against Anaheim Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen...

Dallas Stars centre Tyler Seguin shoots the puck against Anaheim Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen during Game 3 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series at American Airlines Center in Dallas, April 21, 2014. (JEROME MIRON/USA Today)

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:28 AM ET

DALLAS - Maybe Jamie Benn was sick of hearing about the other captain.

Maybe Kari Lehtonen was sick of hearing about the other goalie.

It sure seemed that way in the Dallas Stars' 3-0 home victory in Game 3 of their best-of-seven Western Conference quaterfinal series against the Anaheim Ducks.

Benn scored in the opening frame and looked like a man among boys for most of the night while Lehtonen delivered a 37-save shutout in Monday's triumph, putting a new twist on the script — captain is the offensive catalyst, goalie slams gates at other end — that the Ducks followed to post back-to-back wins in their own barn before this series shifted to the Lone Star State.

“(Benn) has been our horse all year, so we expect him to do that,” said Stars defenceman Trevor Daley. “He was a horse tonight ,and we jumped on him and rode him.”

The Stars ended a five-year playoff drought this season, meaning Monday's contest marked the first spring showdown at American Airlines Center since May 19, 2008.

Thanks to the result, fans won't have to worry about witnessing a sweep in Wednesday's Game 4.

“It's so easy to get up for these games,” Benn said. “We were feeding off the crowd.”

Benn was still skating for the Western Hockey League's Kelowna Rockets when Dallas last played in the post-season, but the broad-shouldered left-winger is a big reason the Stars are back in the NHL playoffs and an even bigger reason they aren't trailing 3-0 in this first-round series.

For the first time in the series, Benn was better in Monday's tilt than Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, who arrived in Dallas with four points in two outings and countless stitches just below his mouth after being struck in the face by a slapshot in Game 1.

That doesn't mean Getzlaf wasn't a centre of attention again at American Airlines Center.

During a second-period scrum, Stars trouble-maker Antoine Roussel gave the Ducks superstar a couple of taps to his facial protector after a whistle, goading Getzlaf into throwing a punch. Several fists flew after that, and there were barbs flying again after the feisty affair.

“You’ve got to stay as disciplined as you can, but you’ve got to protect yourself, too. I never expected them to target my face that much, but that’s the way it goes, I guess,” Getzlaf said. “If a guy’s got a bad jaw, I’m not going to hit him in the jaw. But everybody’s different.”

The storylines Monday were similar, the heroes were just different.

Ducks netminder Frederik Andersen was stellar in Anaheim and pitched a 34-save effort in Game 2, but Lehtonen was the marquee masked man on this night. The Stars' starter finished with 37 saves and was named first star, while Andersen made only 19 saves.

“It's kind of funny how it goes. Maybe tonight, they had more chances and last game, we did. Now, we're the winners and last time they were,” Lehtonen said. “It's kind of funny how it goes that way, but it's the goals that count and it was nice to see us get a little lead there.”

Who got 'em that lead? You guessed it ...

Benn had just been granted his release after a two-minute sentence for hooking when he cleaned up Shawn Horcoff's leftovers to open the scoring 35 seconds before the first intermission.

Lehtonen had already made 24 saves when Valeri Nichushkin provided a bit of insurance for the Stars with just 2:45 remaining in the middle period, threading a shot through Andersen's five-hole for his first career playoff goal, while winger Ryan Garbutt cinched it with a third-period marker.

They say a series isn't officially on until somebody loses on home ice, but after the Ducks lost their cool in Monday's meeting, you have to think it's on now.

“I guess you do anything to win,” said Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau. “But it's not something I think our team would do. We'll take them and be as physical and be as mean as they want, but obviously they know there's something wrong with (Getzlaf's) jaw so they're going after it.”

wes.gilbertson@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNGilbertson


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