DALLAS -- An evening off for the slumping Tuukka Rask worked out for everyone involved for the Bruins on Thursday night in Dallas.
Meanwhile, the Bruins produced three goals against a very focused Stars goalie, Kari Lehtonen, who was auditioning to be the starter for Team Finland in the Sochi Winter Games while countryman Rask sat out for Boston. Finland's top hockey brass was in attendance for Thursday's game.
But this night for the Bruins was about getting Rask out of his funk and getting a win in the process. It was a win-win night for Boston heading into Sunday's showdown in Chicago.
The game-winning goal was scored by the oncoming Brad Marchand. He scored off a turnover 3:18 into the third period, answering Erik Cole's power-play goal two minutes earlier that had tied the game at 1-1. Marchand has seven goals in his past 13 games.
Boston also got goals from their top players with David Krejci scoring in the first period for a 1-0 lead. Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron scored goals in the third period, Bergeron's coming on an empty net after Stars captain Jamie Benn had made the game interesting off a rebound to cut Boston's lead to 3-2 with 1:11 left in the game.
Johnson was more than up to the task with a defense in front of him that was sharp all night, playing the puck to the outside and keeping the Stars from creating many quality chances.
Former Bruin Tyler Seguin was almost nonexistent in his second game against his former team, getting only four shots on goal after scoring in a shootout in Boston in Dallas' overtime win earlier in the season.
Feisty Chara: Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was involved in just about every on-ice scrum on the same day that he learned he will carry the Slovakian flag in the Opening Ceremony at the Winter Games in Sochi next month. Chara and teammate Adam McQuaid teamed up in a rare 2-on-1 fight with Stars forward Vernon Fiddler that resulted in roughing penalties for all three players.
On the kill: The Bruins did allow the power-play goal on Cole's tip-in, but Boston did an excellent job killing off penalties. Dallas had six power plays and produced only nine shots while the Bruins created numerous short-handed opportunities with six shots.
Up next: The Bruins will play in Chicago against the Black Hawks on Sunday afternoon on NBC in a rematch of last year's Stanley Cup Finals. It will be the first matchup between the teams since Chicago won the Cup.