Flyers overcome Stars' two-goal first to solidify playoff standing

DALLAS -- The pressure is on Philadelphia goalie Brian Boucher.

Boucher made 27 saves a few hours after the Flyers learned that top goalie Michael Leighton will be out at least eight weeks because of a high ankle sprain, and Philadelphia rallied to beat the Dallas Stars 3-2 on Thursday night.

"It's nice to get an opportunity," Boucher said. "It's exciting for me and I hope to make the most of it."

Leighton was injured Tuesday night in a 4-3 shootout loss at Nashville, and an MRI on Thursday revealed that the sprain will sideline Leighton for the rest of the regular season and at least the opening round of the playoffs.

Now the No. 1 role falls to Boucher, playing his fifth game since his last start on Dec. 21. Boucher's record is 5-12-2, and he needed a lift.

"I'm sure it's a confidence boost for him," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "Like we've said all along, we've been confident in our goaltending. The guys that have been in the net, they work hard and they want to get in there. [Boucher] has been waiting a long time."

Scott Hartnell scored the go-ahead goal in the third period to deal another setback to the Stars' playoff hopes.

Hartnell set up to the left of Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen, and Jeff Carter's shot from the slot rattled off Hartnell, off the goal post, and over the goal line at 7:55.

"If it's mine, I'll take credit for it," said Hartnell, who played despite a stomach virus.

Simon Gagne and Mike Richards had a goal and an assist each for the Flyers, who won on the road for the first time in five games.

The Flyers strengthened their grip on a playoff spot, improving to 79 points.

Lehtonen stopped 28 shots, and Steve Ott had both goals for the Stars, seven points behind No. 8 Detroit for the final Western Conference playoff spot.

Ott also had two goals in Dallas' only other meeting with the Flyers this season, a 6-3 Philadelphia win on Jan. 12.

The Stars are 2-6-1 since the Olympic break and have 12 games left.

"It's almost like playoff hockey, the type of game it was tonight," Stars defenseman Mark Fistric said. "Little errors like turnovers and not getting pucks deep are what cost us."

All three Flyers goals came off Stars defensive errors, capped by Hartnell's pinball goal.

"It's tough because of the breakdowns we're having," Ott said. "[Hartnell's] goal had eyes and found a way in."

Ott gave Dallas the lead on the power play at 9:41 of the first period with a one-timer from the high slot.

Gagne tied it at 1 at 15:01 of the opening period when he jammed a rebound past Lehtonen.

Ott took a cross-ice feed from Nicklas Grossman and fired into an open net to put Dallas in front at 17:55 of the first period.

Richards drew Philadelphia even at 2 when he converted a 2-on-1 break with Gagne at 5:27 of the second period, Richards' 27th of the season.

Game notes
Lehtonen is 0-9-1 for his career against Philadelphia, with the first nine decisions coming with Atlanta. ... The Flyers were making the third stop of a four-game trip. The Stars played the fourth game of a six-game homestand. ... Dallas C Mike Modano missed his second straight game. Modano is recovering from an appendectomy earlier in the week. ... Philadelphia's last game in Dallas was on March 13, 2007. ... Gagne has eight goals in his last nine games.