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DALLAS (AP) — Jamie Benn had two goals and an assist on Saturday night, and he was just as good without the puck.
In a battle of division leaders, the Dallas Stars scored within the first 2 minutes of each period and beat the Montreal Canadiens 6-2.
"We're focusing on good starts," Benn said.
Jason Spezza gave the Stars a lead they never lost with his goal just 1:34 into the game.
"(Spezza) got a pretty nice goal early to fire us up and win the crowd," Benn said. "We found a way to score a few in the second."
Benn regained the NHL lead with 22 goals, passing the Blues' Vladimir Tarasenko.
Benn's teammates also were impressed with their captain's leadership and a big hit on Montreal's Jeff Petry.
"There's no doubt about it, (Benn is) our leader," Spezza said. "He senses the urgency when the team's dipping. He can take over games at certain times."
The Canadiens' Daniel Carr scored their first power-play goal in eight games to pull within 3-1 midway through the second period. As Montreal tried to clear the puck from its zone, Benn belted Petry into the boards. It was one of a team-leading four hits by Benn, and he also blocked a shot.
The puck then went to Tyler Seguin, who skated from the left corner to the middle of the left faceoff circle and sent a shot past Canadiens goalie Mike Condon.
"(Petry) just held on to it a little too long," Benn said. "We were fortunate enough to keep it in and move it around a bit, and Seguin made a pretty good shot there."
Central Division-leading Dallas improved to 24-7-2 and reached a league-high 50 points in only 33 games.
Montreal leads the Atlantic Division despite losing seven of its last eight games. This loss kicked off an eight-game trip.
"We lost some games at home that we believe we were playing some really good hockey," Montreal coach Michel Therrien said. "It's not the same thing tonight."
Captain Max Pacioretty was blunter.
"We started the year with nine wins in a row," Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty said. "I don't know why we forgot how to play the game, but we have to find answers really quick."
Spezza added two assists, and Seguin and Patrick Sharp each had a goal and an assist. Patrick Eaves added one of the Stars' three goals on the power play. They had been 5 for 45 in their previous 14 games.
"It was good to see our power play grab the game," Dallas coach Lindy Ruff said. "We played the plays when they were there."
Stars goalie Antti Niemi made 21 saves and allowed goals to Carr and Paul Byron.
Mike Condon had 17 saves before Dustin Tokarski replaced him with 15:33 remaining and the score 6-2. The Canadiens are 3-7-1 since starting goalie Carey Price was injured.
Spezza carried the puck from Dallas' blue line to the right faceoff circle for his goal.
"Jason scored one heck of a goal," Ruff said. "We knew that Condon was the type of goalie that challenges a little bit. I though he sold him on the shot (fake), and he one-step passed it and found the top corner."
Dallas scored twice quickly again in the second, getting a goal from Benn at 1:24 and Sharp on the power play at 3:06.
At 0:31 of the third, Benn scored on a 5-on-3 power play.
NOTES: The 6-foot-6 McCarron made his NHL debut for Montreal. He was recalled from St. John's of the AHL, where he had a hat trick against Albany on Wednesday. McCarron's first minor penalty resulted in Sharp's goal. . Carr has two goals in seven NHL games. The Canadiens had been 0 for 23 on the power play. ... Dallas D Alex Goligoski recorded his 200th career assist on Seguin's second-period goal. ... Dallas reached a season-high six goals for the third time. Montreal allowed six for the second time this season.
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