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Benn scores twice in third period, Stars top Jets

by Ryan Dittrick (@ryandittrick) / Winnipeg Jets

WINNIPEG – Colton Sceviour broke a 2-2 tie with 7:31 left in the third period, while Jamie Benn added a pair late as the Dallas Stars defeated the Jets 5-3 Tuesday at MTS Centre.

Sceviour jumped on a rebound off the end boards, firing it high off the back bar for the go-ahead goal. Play continued for about 35 seconds before it was blown dead and later confirmed by the war room in Toronto.

Benn put the Stars up by two with just 5:52 to go on a play similar to the Sceviour goal, where he quickly and easily deposited a shot off the back wall on the power play. That goal stood as the winner, as Mark Scheifele cut the deficit to one, but the Jets were unable to close the gap any further.

Any empty netter in the final minute sealed it.

The Jets are now won just one of their last eight home games, dropping their overall record to 13-14-2 at MTS Centre.

Andrew Ladd, one of the Jets’ three goal scorers, tallied a big goal in the second period, and that – not the final score – is likely to be remembered above all else on this night. The 15,294 in attendance rose to their feet and applauded the work of the captain, who after the game spoke about the fans have meant to him over the past five years.

“I appreciate the ovation,” he said. “The fans have always been great here in Winnipeg. We’ve loved the people in this city and they’ve treated us great.”

Ladd, who’s set to become an unrestricted free agent on Jul. 1 if he isn’t re-signed by then, says the feeling was “weird” because “nothing is set in stone yet” with the Feb. 29 trade deadline fast approaching.

“You don’t really know what’s going to happen but it’s always nice to feel appreciated. … You try to enjoy playing the game at this point because it’s out of your control.”

Head Coach Paul Maurice was pleased with the crowd’s reaction, calling it an appropriate celebration of the player’s importance to the organization since relocating to Winnipeg.

“It was appropriate for the potential of the moment, that there’s a chance that was the last time they’ll see him in that sweater and he scored a goal. He’s been so good like that, playing with a centre in his second year (Adam Lowry) and a winger in his first 40 (games, Joel Armia). The stuff you never get to hear or see is the stuff that happens on the bench; the other team scores and he says to those kids to keep them engaged and in the game. Those are the things about the man that are important. (The fans) may come back here and have a chance to cheer for him for the remainder of the regular season, but if in fact that’s the way it turns out, it was good. I’m glad the crowd appreciated it.”

The Stars opened the scoring with a power-play marker at 7:15. With Paul Postma in the box for interference, Jason Spezza jumped on a loose puck in the right circle, whipping it bar-down for his 19th of the year. Tyler Seguin, whose initial pass ricocheted off the skate of a Winnipeg defender, recorded the primary assist, giving him 24 points in just 22 career games against the Jets, including a half-dozen this season.

Shots on goal favoured the Stars 11-7 after one.

The Jets tied things up just three-and-a-half minutes into the middle frame. A Drew Stafford shot from the far dot was knocked down in front, but Alexander Burmistrov buried the rebound, backhanding a bouncing puck over Antti Niemi’s left pad.

Stafford’s assist was the 200th of his NHL career.

Blake Wheeler nearly put the Jets on top just a few minutes later, but his shot off the rush caught iron, giving the Stars a chance to capitalize. That they did with 11:46 left in the period, as Valeri Nichushkin picked the far corner from a sharp angle in tight, putting the visitors back in front, 2-1.

Meanwhile, the horseshoe was working overtime at the other end, as on the very next shift – off a beautiful feed from Nikolaj EhlersDustin Byfuglien rifled one of the opposite post, keeping the Stars in front.

The Jets added another one off the post when they had a chance to tie the game with the goalie pulled.

“If that’s a Game 7 we’re going to talk about the three posts,” Maurice said. “We made some mistakes that we’ll grow out of. … We turned some pucks over that ended up in our net that we didn’t need to. Mistakes happen in a game, but it’s the frequency of your mistakes and the intensity of your play where we’ve got some room to grow.”

But the Jets kept at it in the middle frame, suffocating the Stars on their own power play late in the period. Ladd eventually brought the house down, roofing a Byfuglien centering pass over the sprawling netminder for his fourth goal in three games, knotting the game at two.

Ladd is now tied with Bryan Little for the team lead with 17 goals on the year.

“The first period was kind of dull but we got some energy in the second, got going and got our feet moving,” Ladd said.

After trailing 11-7 after one, the Jets outshot the Stars 18-15 the rest of the way.

– Ryan Dittrick,

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