Ducks ride big 1st period to 4-2 victory over Stars
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Jakob Silfverberg enjoyed looking up at the scoreboard in the first period and seeing a big, crooked number next to the Anaheim Ducks' name.
After a half-season spent in a profound struggle to score goals, the Ducks are finally finding their groove - and causing trouble for top teams like the Dallas Stars.
Silfverberg had a goal and an assist and the NHL's lowest-scoring team blasted the highest-scoring team for four goals in the opening period of the Ducks' 4-2 victory over the Stars on Friday night.
The Ducks shredded the Stars' defense and goalie Kari Lehtonen in a stunning 12:32 stretch of dominance: After Silfverberg and Sami Vatanen scored 31 seconds apart in the opening minutes, Hampus Lindholm and Corey Perry scored 33 seconds apart later in the first. Defensemen Vatanen and Lindholm both ended lengthy goal-scoring droughts, while Silfverberg continued to pick up speed.
''They're probably the most skilled team in the league ... so it felt good to get off to a start like that against them,'' said Silfverberg, who has goals in consecutive games after managing just three goals in the first 41. ''It's just a matter of working hard.''
Frederik Andersen made 22 saves for the Ducks, who have won seven of 10.
Ducks fans were still arriving when Silfverberg redirected Josh Manson's shot for his fifth goal 3:05 in. Vatanen added his sixth moments later, ending a 19-game goal drought since Nov. 25 for the offensive-minded defenseman.
''We felt we were doing the right things before the Christmas break,'' Vatanen said. ''We just couldn't get the results. We've been working hard, and it's paying off.''
Lindholm snapped a 31-game goal drought late in the first period on a power play, and Perry slammed home his 17th of the season shortly afterward. Anaheim entered the night with 12 fewer goals than the NHL's next-lowest-scoring team. It scored four goals in a period for the first time all season and got four in a first period for the first time since Dec. 17, 2013.
''The first period might have been our best period of the year,'' Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said.
Mattias Janmark scored a short-handed goal and captain Jamie Benn had a power-play goal for the Stars. Dallas has lost six straight road games for the first time in five years.
Lehtonen stopped 31 shots and Dallas opened a three-game California trip with its fifth loss in six games overall. After having the previous five days off, Dallas fell out of first place in the Central Division with its loss and the Chicago Blackhawks' win over Toronto.
''We didn't deserve to win,'' Dallas coach Lindy Ruff said. ''We didn't compete hard enough. They beat us up ice, and we didn't backcheck. ... You get outworked in this league, I don't care how much skill you have. The workers overtake the skill guys.''
The defeat caused some frank self-analysis by the Stars, who have one road win in nine tries since Dec. 3. Benn said Dallas played ''stupid hockey.''
''The teams that are winning right now are teams that want it more and are working harder,'' Benn added. ''We've had a tough time on the road lately, but it doesn't mean we can't come out here and work hard for 60 minutes.''
Janmark scored early in the second period on a breakaway set up by Perry's poor pass.
Benn improbably hadn't scored a road goal since Nov. 28. He ended the Ducks' franchise-record streak of 34 consecutive penalties killed with the 26th goal of his spectacular season midway through the third.
''We just got what we deserved,'' Dallas forward Vernon Fiddler said. ''We don't want to do the little things right. We don't want to play defense. We're turning pucks over, and we can't recover. We've got to really take a look in the mirror here and find our game and find ourselves. It's not just one or two guys. It's everybody.''
NOTES: Ales Hemsky returned to Dallas' lineup after a two-week absence with a lower-body injury. F Colton Sceviour was a healthy scratch, missing his first game since Dec. 15. ... Jiri Sekac returned to Anaheim's lineup and Chris Stewart was scratched. ... Angels LHP C.J. Wilson attended the game.