ST. PAUL - Winning on the road is becoming a productive habit the Stars are getting used to.
Andrew Raycroft made 26 saves to earn his second shutout of the season -- and ninth of his career -- and Dallas captured its seventh straight win away from home on Sunday by neatly defeating the surging Minnesota Wild 4-0 at the XCel Energy Center. The road winning streak matches a franchise record that was last done during the 2001-02 season.
"A lot of it is the way we are playing defense," Raycroft said about the road success. "That's probably first and foremost. We've had a few bounces and been lucky to stay in a couple of games, and that's what you need to do on the road…just plug away, grind, play well defensively, and score key goals. That's what we've done."
The win was impressive in that the Stars were playing a Wild team that is one of the hottest in the league. Minnesota was coming off a shutout win over Pittsburgh on Saturday which extended its winning streak to four straight, and came in having won eight of its last 11.
But it didn't matter to the Stars, who rebounded from a shootout loss to the New York Rangers on Friday with a methodical win that kept them on top of the Pacific Division with 55 points.
"We focused on us and wanted to play our game," Benn said. "We knew they were hot coming in, but we've been playing pretty good on the road, so we just kept it the same and got a good effort."
Raycroft, making his first start since Dec. 28 at Nashville, was solid when called upon, especially early in the third period when Dallas was under siege while hanging onto a 2-0 lead.
He improved to 8-3-0 on the season with yet another terrific outing.
"The guys made it really easy tonight," Raycroft said. "We knew (Minnesota) traveled and played last night. We just did a great job staying out of the box and not giving them any quality chances at all."
The game also marked the return of Jamie Langenbrunner, who was acquired on Friday from the New Jersey Devils. Wearing his familiar No. 15, Langenbrunner, Dallas' second-round pick in 1993, played on a line with Steve Ott and Adam Burish and also manned the point on the power play. He finished with three shots in 15:03 minutes of ice time.
"I had a little bit of nerves coming home to Minnesota to play my first game with my new/old team and all that," Langenbrunner said. "It's been an exciting few days for me. I have to think a little bit more just to make sure I'm in the right spot."
After a scoreless second period that kept the score at 2-0, the Stars iced it midway through the third when Neal popped in his 15th of the season. After the Wild had begun to mount a threat to Dallas' two-goal lead, Neal quieted things when his turnaround wrist shot from the lower portion of the right circle was able to trickle past Minnesota goalie Jose Theodore.
Benn then capped the scoring with 5:32 left in regulation with his second of the game, and 11th of the season. Picking up a loose puck at the top of the right circle, his shot zipped past Theodore along the ice.
Theodore finished with 24 saves in his fifth straight start for injured starter Niklas Backstrom.
"When you have success, it gives us a lot of confidence in what we're doing and what the coaches are saying," Raycroft said. "I think we're at that point now that we truly believe what we are doing, and that if we play strong defensively we have more than enough guys that can make plays up front to win games."
Dallas struck first when Daley notched his third of the season just 2:33 into the first period. Joining the rush on the left wing, Daley drove to the net before he was able to redirect a perfect feed from Richards along the right boards.
"We scored that early one which was nice," Raycroft said. "To come out and get that first one took a lot out of their momentum."
Benn made it 2-0 with just 49 seconds left in the first with a highlight-reel goal. Lugging the puck through the neutral zone and over the Minnesota blue line, he got past Cam Barker by deftly slipping the puck between the Wild defenseman's legs before wristing a shot over Theodore's right shoulder from the left circle.
"I was trying to come with speed because it's always hard to defend speed," Benn said. "I made a quick move there, and tried to get a quick shot off, too."
The Stars will open a three-game homestand on Tuesday against the Edmonton Oilers at American Airlines Center (7:30 p.m., FS-SW). The Oilers are in last place in the Western Conference with 33 points, and were handed a 6-1 drubbing by Vancouver on Friday.