Stars dump 'Canes; off to best start in five years

(Reuters) - The Dallas Stars extended their red-hot start to the National Hockey League season with a dominant 5-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday to extend their lead in the Pacific Division.

Jamie Benn scored goals in the first and second periods to help establish a 5-1 advantage as the Stars (10-3-0) cruised to their third straight victory and ninth in 11 games.

Dallas, who missed out on the playoffs for a franchise worst-tying third consecutive season in 2010-11, are enjoying their finest start to a season since the 2006-07 campaign and handed Carolina their third loss in four games.

"Last year they missed the playoffs by one point, so this year they've got something to prove," said Stars first-year coach Glen Gulutzan. "So for me as a new coach, it's been easy going into that locker room when you've got 20 hungry guys."

The Stars raced out of the gate with first period goals from Eric Nystrom, Stephane Robidas and Benn before Michael Ryder and Benn put the game out of reach with goals in the second.

Goaltender Kari Lehtonen made 30 saves to improve to 10-1-0 on the season and Dallas started its four-game road trip on a positive note.

Chad Larose and Tuomo Ruutu scored for Carolina (5-6-3) who sits near the bottom of the Southeast Division.

Goaltender Cam Ward's struggles continued as he allowed four goals before being pulled in favor of Brian Boucher. Ward has given up nine goals in his last four-plus periods of play.

Dallas winger Loui Eriksson added three assists as the Stars continue to build chemistry during their winning ways.

"We're getting to know each other better and better as the games go on," said Eriksson, who has 15 points in 13 games. "(Benn is) such a good player to play with."

(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)