Dallas Stars center Jake Dowell, left, and Boston Bruins center Gregory Campbell fight in the second period during an NHL hockey game on Saturday, Dec. 31, 2011, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Matt Strasen)
DALLAS - Two nights earlier, the Dallas Stars were dominated on home ice by the team with the NHL's fewest points.
Motivated by that dismal showing, the Stars proceeded to knock off the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins.
Michael Ryder and Loui Eriksson scored power-play goals in the first period and the Stars ended Boston's seven-game winning streak, 4-2 on Saturday night.
Trevor Daley contributed a goal and two assists, Tom Wandell also scored, and Kari Lehtonen made 18 saves for the Stars.
Dallas had been 2-4 in its previous six games.
"I think it's huge for us ... It was a good rebound game," said Stars forward Jamie Benn, who had two assists.
Ryder, who helped the Bruins win the Cup last season before signing with Dallas as a free agent over the summer, notched his team-high 15th goal in the final minute of the opening period.
"It's very nice to score against them, but I'm just happy to get the win and show that we can compete against the top teams in the league," Ryder said.
On Thursday night, the Stars were whipped at home 4-1 by the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets. Dallas performed at a much higher level against the Bruins, controlling play for long stretches of the opening two periods, then holding off Boston's comeback bid.
"What a team (the Bruins) are," Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan said. "What a strong team and you can see why they won the Stanley Cup last year. It means a lot to our club because here is a team that is (21-2-1) in their last 24 games, pounding away at the rest of the league and we give a committed effort and get a win."
Tyler Seguin and Milan Lucic scored for Boston, and Tim Thomas stopped 23 shots.
The Bruins had outscored opponents 32-8 during their seven-game streak and registered three shutouts in their previous six games.
But they were on their heels for much of the first 40 minutes, serving six minor penalties. The Bruins disputed several of the penalty calls, and never recovered from all that short-handed time.
"We killed a lot of penalties and so it was hard to get some momentum," Boston coach Claude Julien said.
The teams' last meeting was a brawling affair won 6-3 by the Bruins. There were three fights in a span of four seconds after the opening faceoff in the game at Boston on Feb. 3, 2010. That loss sent the Stars reeling on a 1-6-1 skid that eventually cost them a playoff berth.
Eriksson registered his 13th goal on a wrist shot at 3:21 of the opening period as the Stars cashed in on a five-on-three. Boston's Chris Kelly was already serving a hooking penalty when teammate Dennis Seidenberg was whistled for delay of game seven seconds later for firing a clearing pass into the seats, giving Dallas the two-man advantage.
Seguin deflected David Krejci's shot past Lehtonen at 11:39 of the first for his 15th goal of the season to draw Boston even.
But Daley knocked a rebound by Thomas at 16:59 of the first to put Dallas back in front, and Ryder's power-play backhander from low in the slot with 40 seconds left in the opening period gave the Stars a two-goal pad.
Entering the game, Boston had allowed one power-play goal in 40 previous short-handed situations before giving up two in the first period.
Wandell made it 4-1 with one minute remaining in the second, converting Adam Burish's centring pass.
Lucic's one-timer at 1:08 of the third period pulled Boston within two. The Bruins showed more grit in the final period, but started their comeback bid far too late.
"We got the early goal and were better, but it was a frustrating night for us," Julien said. "When some tough calls go against you, you get frustrated. ... We weren't a very good team. They were physical, skating well and were without a doubt the better team."
NOTES: Dallas LW Brenden Morrow had been listed as questionable after taking a slap shot on his knee in the third period of Thursday night's game, but the team captain felt good enough to play. ... D Sheldon Souray (ankle), F Tomas Vincour (knee) and D Stephane Robidas (foot) are out for the Stars. ... The Bruins had been 5-1-1in their previous seven games with the Stars. ... Dallas had its second home sellout of the season.