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Stars try for 3rd straight win, reverse fortunes vs. Pens
(SportsNetwork.com) - Hoping to win three straight for the first time in over two months, the Dallas Stars will try to reverse a recent losing trend against the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins as the two clubs meet on Saturday night.
The Stars are looking to dig themselves out of a recent hole thanks to a 1-8-1 stretch that began January. They are beginning to do so thanks to back-to-back wins -- their first winning streak since consecutive victories on Dec. 23 and 27 -- blanking Minnesota 4-0 to begin a five-game homestand on Tuesday before following up with a 7-1 rout of Toronto two nights later.
Valeri Nichushkin scored twice, including once during a four-goal second period that also saw Shawn Horcoff, Rich Peverley and Trevor Daley light the lamp, while Jamie Benn added his 100th career goal to three assists.
Kari Lehtonen made 24 saves to record his 200th career victory and Cody Eakin scored before leaving the game early in the third period after taking a hit to the head from the Maple Leafs' Colton Orr.
"I think tonight we kept building, we kept trying to score, and that's what you got to do to win," said Peverley. "You can't sit back and I think we did a good job of pushing forward and trying to get that next goal."
Playing in his second game after missing two in a row due to feeling fatigued, Nichushkin, the 10th overall pick of the 2013 draft, posted his first career multi-goal game to help the Stars post their largest margin of victory this season.
Dallas will now try to win three in a row for the first time since Nov. 13-17, but will need to best Pittsburgh for just the third time in the last 11 meetings to do so.
The Penguins have won two straight over the Stars and three of the past four played in Dallas, two of those in a shootout.
Pittsburgh is also likely to start Marc-Andre Fleury in this game and the netminder has never lost to Dallas, winning all six meetings with a 1.95 goals against average.
Lehtonen is 7-4-3 with a 2.79 GAA in his career versus the Pens.
Pittsburgh posted a 6-4 win over the New York Islanders on Thursday, with backup Jeff Zatkoff making 30 saves.
"Not the prettiest game for your numbers, but it's a hard fought game," Zatkoff said. "That's the kind of game you're going to be in versus the Isles."
Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz both had a goal and two assists, while Evgeni Malkin, Olli Maatta, Kris Letang and Brandon Sutter also scored as the Pens moved to 7-1-1 in their last nine and 16-3-1 in their previous 20.
Crosby has four goals and seven points in four previous meetings with the Stars and enters play tonight leading the NHL with 72 points while ranking second with 45 assists.
Pens forward James Neal, a second-round pick by the Stars in 2005, has two goals in two games versus his former club.
A 20-goal scorer in all three of his seasons in Dallas, Neal was dealt to Pittsburgh on Feb. 21, 2011 along with defenseman Matt Niskanen for blueliner Alex Goligoski.
01/25 10:27:48 ET