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Playoff-hungry Stars shoot for another win in Florida
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Dallas Stars will try to extend their lead for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference when they visit the Florida Panthers on Sunday.
Dallas recorded a 5-2 win Saturday at Tampa Bay and the win allowed the Stars to leapfrog idle Phoenix for the final wild card spot in the West. Dallas has 87 points and five games to play, while Phoenix has 86 points and four games left. The Coyotes are idle again on Sunday.
Jamie Benn had two goals and an assist to help the Stars down the Lightning on Saturday. Vernon Fiddler and Tyler Seguin each posted a goal and an assist for Dallas, which has won six of their past eight games.
Antoine Roussel scored the other goal while Kari Lehtonen stopped 27 shots.
It's unclear if Lehtonen will start on consecutive days or if backup Tim Thomas will get the call. Thomas began this season with Florida and posted a 16-20-3 record and a 2.87 goals against average in 40 games with the Panthers before getting dealt to Dallas. The two-time Vezina Trophy winner is just 2-2-1 with a 3.37 GAA in six games with Stars following the trade.
The Stars are completing a three-game road trip on Sunday before playing three straight on home ice. Dallas will then return to the road to complete its regular season on April 13 in Phoenix.
Dallas has lost two straight and four of its last five meetings with the Panthers, but the Stars have picked up 4-1 wins in each of their last two trips to Sunrise, Fla.
The Panthers will miss the playoffs for the 12th time in 13 seasons this spring and the club is not relishing in their spoiler role at the moment. Florida has lost five straight in regulation and going 1-8-0 over its last nine outings.
Florida is closing its season on a five-game homestand, but dropped the opener of that residency against Calgary on Friday. Mike Cammalleri netted the winner early in the second period to help the Flames record a 2-1 win at BB&T Center.
Vincent Trocheck provided the lone score and Roberto Luongo made 15 saves for the Panthers, who have lost three straight on home ice to fall to 14-18-5 as the host this season.
"A win would have been nice, but the effort was there," Luongo said. "We just couldn't get the equalizer."
04/06 11:54:13 ET