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Benn lifts Stars past Jets in back-and-forth game

by Steve Hunt /

DALLAS -- Special teams were key for the Dallas Stars in their 6-3 victory against the Winnipeg Jets at American Airlines Center on Thursday.

Jamie Benn scored the game-winning goal on the power play with 5:55 left in the third period, 39 seconds after the Stars finished killing off a double minor against Tyler Seguin for high sticking.

With Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien in the penalty box for holding, Benn scored on a rebound after goalie Ondrej Pavelec made a save on Seguin’s slap shot from the left circle. Benn knocked the rebound off the far post and into the net for his 11th goal.

"Just a lot of good work by the other four guys,” Benn said. “I pretty much stand in front and tap them in."

Dallas got empty-net goals from Antoine Roussel and Vernon Fiddler after Winnipeg pulled Pavelec in favor of an extra attacker with 2:21 remaining.

The Stars were 2-for-4 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill. They are second in the NHL on the power play (30.2 percent) but 19th on the penalty kill (78.4).

“We've had some tough breaks on the penalty kill, but that four-minute kill was big for us.” Dallas coach Lindy Ruff said. “I thought we did a great job on that."

Jets coach Paul Maurice wasn’t pleased with his special teams.

“When your power play’s on, there’s a certain quickness to it, the way pucks get to the net, the traffic that you get in front of the net,” he said. “We didn’t have a whole lot of that going on.”

Ales Hemsky had a goal and two assists, John Klingberg and Colton Sceviour each had a goal and an assist, and Johnny Oduya had two assists for the Stars (13-4-0).

"It was a tough game. They have a good team,” Hemsky said. “Really big bodies, and they play really heavy, and they're shooting from everywhere, so it's always tough against them. We had a slow start, but we stuck with it. It's a good feeling."

Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen made 35 saves.

"I loved the battle in his game,” Ruff said of Lehtonen. “That's the one thing he's getting better at. He's got some battle. He could have come unglued too, but he didn't. He stood tall for us."

Blake Wheeler, Jacob Trouba and Tyler Myers scored for the Jets (8-7-2), who lost their third straight.

“We’re going through a tough stretch right now, so we’re just going to have to work our way out of it,” Wheeler said. “I don’t know if there’s one specific thing that went wrong that forced us to lose the game. I think it’s just kind of the way it’s going right now.”

Dallas and Winnipeg combined for four goals in the first period. There were three ties in the game.

The Stars opened the scoring when Klingberg beat Pavelec top shelf to the short side with a wrist shot from the high slot 2:32 into the first period.

The Jets then scored twice in 18 seconds to take a 2-1 lead.

Wheeler got Winnipeg on the board with a wrist shot from the far edge of the left circle to Lehtonen’s short side at 4:13.

Trouba gave the Jets their first lead at 4:31 when he scored off a rebound. Adam Lowry's pass off the rush hit the left skate of Chris Thorburn, but Lehtonen left the rebound in the paint, and Trouba capitalized.

Winnipeg nearly scored again at 11:04, but Dallas defenseman Jason Demers made a kick save on a wrist shot by Andrew Ladd, who was attempting to score into an empty net after Bryan Little took Lehtonen out to the left of the Stars net.

“I thought after the first 20, maybe 25 minutes of the game, I don’t know if it was particularly well-played by either team,” Maurice said. “Then I liked our stretch of hockey after that, we looked simple and fast.”

Dallas tied it at 2-2 when Sceviour scored off the rebound at 12:38. Oduya's slap shot from near the blue line hit the crossbar. The carom landed in front of Sceviour, who scored his first of the season through Pavelec's five-hole.

The Stars regained the lead at 3:17 of the second when Hemsky scored on a breakaway. Hemsky received Jordie Benn's pass from the Dallas goal line near the Winnipeg blue line and beat Pavelec to his right with a wrist shot from the slot off the rush.

“It was just kind of a weird play,” Jordie Benn said. “I got the puck and I had a lot more time than I thought. I saw Hemsky just kind of gliding backwards and got him behind their forward and defense. Maybe it was a little bit of luck. Maybe I’d seen Klingberg do it too many times and thought I’d go for it, and it worked out.”

Lehtonen preserved the Dallas lead with a kick save at 10:44 of the second after a wrist shot by Mark Scheifele was deflected.

Myers made it 3-3 at 9:17 of the third with a wrist shot from the high slot that beat Lehtonen to the far post.

“I thought we were better the second half of the game. We were a little inconsistent the first half,” Myers said. “It’s a tough one. We’re going to have to learn from it to get more consistent throughout a full 60 minutes to get better and we need to try to carry that mindset going into Nashville.”

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