Dallas Stars beat Habs to set the pace in West

DALLAS (Reuters) - The surging Dallas Stars took sole possession of first place in the Western Conference with a 5-2 win over the slumping Montreal Canadiens.

The Stars raced to a 3-0 lead with goals from Adam Burish and Jamie Benn in the first period and Karlis Skrastins early in the second.

"We wanted to pounce on them," said Stars forward Brad Richards. "We got a lead and never gave it up. It was a great effort all the way through."

Mathieu Darche replied for Montreal midway through the second period but Richards restored the Stars' three-goal lead at 17:00.

Brian Gionta scored a short-handed goal for Montreal at 12:15 of the final period before Loui Eriksson put the seal on a 5-2 win with Dallas's last goal a minute later.

Kari Lehtonen made 27 saves for the Stars while Habs netminder Carey Price had only 12 saves on 17 shots.

"Kari was terrific tonight. I thought he was reading (the play) good," said Stars coach Marc Crawford.

"It was a rocket that beat him in the third period, but aside from that, he was really large tonight, and that gave us a lot of confidence."

(Reporting by Mike Mouat in Windsor, Ontario; Editing by Peter Rutherford)