DALLAS, Texas – The Winnipeg Jets fashioned a third-period comeback with the tying goal midway through, but it wasn’t enough, as Jamie Benn’s power-play marker with 5:55 to play lifted the Dallas Stars to a 6-3 win Thursday at American Airlines Center.
Benn deposited a rebound past Ondrej Pavelec after the Stars’ leading scorer, Tyler Seguin, blasted a point shot.
A pair of empty-netters put this one to bed.
Benn, John Klingberg, Colton Sceviour, Ales Hemsky, Antoine Roussel and Vern Fiddler had the goals for the Stars, while Blake Wheeler, Jacob Trouba and Tyler Myers provided the offence for the Jets.
Pavelec made 28 saves in a losing effort.
“We just need to keep fighting together,” Blake Wheeler said. “That’s the biggest thing, to not get down and let the adversity get the best of us. This is our first tough test of the year and we’re going to have to get through it together. Every team’s going to go through it at some point, so we’ve got to scratch and claw our way out of it.”
The Stars opened the scoring with a power-play goal just two-and-a-half minutes in, mere moments after the Jets failed to capitalize on a man advantage of their own.
But the lead didn’t last. Winnipeg quickly tied the game, and then took a 2-1 lead with goals 18 seconds apart, all in the first five minutes.
First, Wheeler scored from a near impossible angle, turning and firing from the bottom of the far circle and beating Lehtonen short side. Then, after Lehtonen made the initial stop on a 2-on-1 between Adam Lowry and Chris Thorburn, Trouba deposited a loose puck in the blue paint, putting the Jets in front.
Fast and loose, this was.
“I don’t think we were necessarily nervous, but the puck wasn’t our friend early on,” Head Coach Paul Maurice said. “We had a hard time getting going, but I thought we settled down and got to skating and moving the puck
“It was a fairly tight game. Better than our last one, but not good enough to win.
“We’re in a tough spot right now. We’ll rally the group and stick together.”
The Stars brought the game back on even terms at 12:38 after a series of defensive miscues on either side produced highly entertaining, end-to-end action. After Johnny Oduya’s point blast went off the near post and the goal horn blasted prematurely, Sceviour was quick to the scene, shovelling home the rebound for his first of the season.
Shots on goal favoured the Stars 16-12 after one period of play.
Hemsky put the Stars up 3-2 at 3:17 of the second, sliding a shot five-hole on a breakaway made possible by Vern Fiddler.
“They play a fast game,” Myers said. “They’re a very quick transition team, knowing that if we’re not chipping pucks deep, they’re flying. We got caught a couple times. We’re going to have to bring a more consistent effort to our games going forward. I think we’re really good, at times, and then there are others where there are some lapses that we have to take care of.”
Pressing for the equalizer, the Jets came close late in a power play midway through the period. Mark Scheifele redirected Myers’ point shot in tight, but Lehtonen made a sparking save his left toe to preserve the one-goal lead.
The Jets outshot the Stars 14-6 in the second period, but were trailing by one heading into the third.
The Jets tied it up at 9:17, as Myers finished off a pretty passing play, rifling a shot bar down from the crest of the near circle.
The visitors had a glorious chance to cash the go-ahead goal as Seguin was penalized four minutes for high sticking, but the power play came up empty, setting the stage for Benn to bring it home.
“I thought we were better in the second half of the game,” Myers said. “We were a little inconsistent in the first half, but we managed to crawl back in it.
“It’s a tough one. We’re going to have to learn from it to get more consistent throughout a full 60 minutes. We need to try and carry that mindset going into Nashville.”
With the win, the Stars improve to 13-4-0 on the year as they continue to lead the Central Division.
“There are no moral victories. We’ve got to beat these guys,” Wheeler said.
– Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com