PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia Flyers will live without recording a shutout, as long as they keep getting the wins.
Andrej Meszaros and Darroll Powe each scored on long-distance wrist shots, and Brian Boucher stopped 30 shots to lead Philadelphia past the Dallas Stars 3-1 on Saturday night.
Jeff Carter added his 25th goal for the Flyers, who increased their Atlantic Division lead over Pittsburgh to three points. Brenden Morrow scored for the Pacific Division-leading Stars in the second period, his fifth goal in six games.
The Eastern Conference-leading Flyers remain the only team in the NHL without recording a shutout, despite a league-leading 35 wins.
"We're not going to get a shutout this year," Boucher said. "It's just not going to happen. We'll just keep trying to win games and we'll be happy with that."
Boucher took it a step further. Told that two other teams in NHL history have won the Stanley Cup without recording a regular-season shutout—the 1981-82 New York Islanders and the 1986-87 Edmonton Oilers—the Flyers grinned.
"See, we're not going to get a shutout this year."
Shutouts or not, the Flyers are playing inspired hockey in the new year, moving to 12-3 in 2011.
In a matchup of division-leading teams, Meszaros scored with 1:20 left in the first period.
He took a pass from Ville Leino and flipped a wrist shot over Kari Lehtonen's glove.
"It went in so I'm happy about that," Meszaros said. "It was a nice pass by Ville. I was trying to find a shooting lane, and wrist it in. I guess the goalie didn't see it, so it went in."
Powe added to the lead 1:19 into the second with a short-handed wrister from the centre of the circle. It was his first goal since Nov. 15, a span of 35 games. Like Meszaros' goal, Lehtonen anticipated low, but was beaten with a high shot.
"It was nice to get that goal tonight," Powe said. "It was a good effort by Betts to get the puck to me. It was a nice relief, and nice for the fourth-line guys to chip in offensively. It might give a team a boost."
The short-handed goal was the eighth for the Flyers, tying them for second in the NHL behind the New York Rangers. It was the ninth given up by the Stars, tying them for second-worst.
Blair Betts recorded his seventh assist on Powe's goal, his first point since Nov. 26. Morrow scored for Dallas at 12:07 of the second, deflecting Mike Ribeiro's shot past Boucher's glove side.
Carter scored the final goal for Philadelphia when he slapped a bouncing puck into the left corner of the net for his fifth goal in five games.
"They put good forechecking pressure," Dallas coach Marc Crawford said. "They found a way to figure out our goalie with the third goal, and when you give them a two-goal lead, you're in trouble."
Lehtonen stopped 29 shots and fell to 0-10-1 in 11 games against Philadelphia. The Stars, who have lost three straight, limped into Philadelphia following a 6-3 defeat at Boston on Thursday in a game in which they had three fights in the first four seconds.
The Flyers' defence stifled the Stars in the third period, and moved to 28-1-2 when leading after two periods.
Boucher only faced eight shots in the third period. He picked up his 12th win of the season in his 22nd appearance. Half of his wins have come when he's made 30 or more saves.
"He looked really good tonight, in control of everything," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said.
Laviolette has used Boucher and rookie Sergei Bobrovsky this season, though Bobrovsky has started most of the time.
It's a situation that figures to continue.
"We have confidence in both goaltenders, Laviolette said. "They've both had strong years and they both deserve a lot of credit. Both guys are playing well, and we'll continue to keep them both active."
Notes: The Stars haven't won in Philadelphia since Dec. 1, 2007, and are 39-67-32 against the Flyers. Philadelphia has won the past four meetings. ... Flyers D Braydon Coburn played in his 350th NHL game. ... Stars forwards Toby Petersen (lower body), Tom Wandell (shoulder) and Adam Burish (face) all sat out. ...The Flyers are one of four teams with a goal differential of at least plus-40. ... Philadelphia is 8-0 this season when scoring a short-handed goal, and have won 13 games in a row dating back to last season.