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Lehtinen, Stars shine in 4-3 win over Florida

DALLAS (AP) -- After squandering a three-goal lead and failing to
connect on four third-period power plays, the Dallas Stars turned
to top goal scorer Jere Lehtinen for the winner.

Lehtinen scored twice, including the tiebreaker with 15.8
seconds left, and the Stars handed the Florida Panthers their 10th
straight road loss, 4-3 Wednesday night.

"I can't say enough about him," Stars coach Dave Tippett said.
"You're looking down the bench for someone to take control of the
game and he doesn't tell you, he just does it and that's what makes
him such a great player. He was in a class by himself tonight.

"Timely goals on the power play are the ones that count, and
that one was very timely."

With the score even at 3 and Dallas on its fifth power play of
the third period, Mike Modano took possession of the puck deep in
the Florida zone on a giveaway by defenseman Steve Montador.

Modano passed from behind the goal line to Lehtinen, who skated
hard to the net and beat goalie Jamie McLennan for his 14th goal.

The Stars hadn't gotten a game-winner that late in regulation
since Brenden Morrow scored with 19 seconds left to beat Phoenix on
March 22, 2002.

Dallas has won four straight and 12 of 14.

Lehtinen and defensemen Martin Skoula and Trevor Daley gave the
Stars a 3-0 first-period lead, but the Panthers struck back with a
three-goal second period before Lehtinen came up with the late
goal.

"We almost let this one slip away," Lehtinen said. "The first
period, we came out hard, but we didn't play as hard in the second.
They got the intensity, we lost the 1-on-1 battles and in the third
we knew we had to play better."

Florida defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski was in the penalty box for
tripping when Lehtinen scored his second of the night.

"I thought we came back hard and deserved a much better fate,"
Panthers coach Jacques Martin said. "When you play half the period
short-handed, it's going to be very difficult to win the game."

Juraj Kolnik, Nathan Horton and former Stars forward Joe
Nieuwendyk scored for the Panthers, who haven't won on the road
since Oct. 25 at Pittsburgh.

The Stars grabbed a 1-0 lead at 6:15 of the first period when
Antti Miettinen fed Lehtinen, who was open in front of the net.

Skoula's 50-footer got through Florida starting goalie Roberto
Luongo's pads at 12:10 of the first period.

Daley skated up the left side and beat Luongo on the backhand
1:12 later to stretch Dallas' advantage to 3-0.

Martin burned a timeout after Daley's goal and sent in McLennan
after Luongo stopped eight of 11 shots.

The crowd was about a third of the announced 17,377 due to an
ice storm that rolled into the North Texas area earlier Wednesday.
The lack of excitement in the building seemed to rub off on the
Stars in the second period when the Panthers climbed back into the
game, outshooting Dallas 15-7.

Goals by Kolnik at 6:25 and Horton at 8:09 got the Panthers
close, and Florida tied it on Nieuwendyk's power-play tally at
12:26.

"We let them come out more aggressive in the second period,"
said Stars goalie Marty Turco, who had 19 saves. "We weren't
playing together. We started taking some penalties and it's tough
to defend that."

Game notes
Sergei Zubov's assist on Daley's goal was his 316th for the
Stars, the most in franchise history by a defenseman. Craig
Hartsburg set the previous high of 315 from 1979-89 when the
franchise was in Minnesota. ... Dallas was without D Philippe
Boucher, out for about 10 days due to a broken finger. ... D Sean
Hill missed his third straight game for the Panthers because of a
groin injury. ... When Dallas gave up only four shots in the first
period, it extended the Stars' streak of allowing six shots or
fewer to seven periods. Florida broke that with a 15-shot second
period. ... The Stars have at least one power-play goal in 17
consecutive games, matching the franchise record set between Oct.
11-Nov. 18, 1986.