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Five reasons the Stars advanced

Benn, Spezza, timely power play helped Dallas reach second round for first time since 2008

by Steve Hunt / Correspondent

The Dallas Stars won their first playoff series since 2008 by eliminating the Minnesota Wild in the Western Conference First Round in six games. Dallas defeated Minnesota 5-4 in Game 6 at Xcel Energy Center and will face the winner of the Chicago Blackhawks-St. Louis Blues series.

Here are five reasons the Stars advanced to the second round:

1. Picking up the slack: With center Tyler Seguin, second on the Stars with 73 points this season, sidelined for all but Game 2, others had to step up and they did. Captain Jamie Benn, who led Dallas with 89 points this season, led the way with 10 points in the series. The Stars also got big production from second-line center Jason Spezza (nine points), grinder Patrick Eaves (five points) and playoff veteran Patrick Sharp (four points). "Well, our big guys came to play," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said after Game 6.

Video: DAL@MIN, Gm6: Sharp beats Dubnyk for a 3-0 lead

2. Bend, don't break: Dallas allowed 230 goals during the regular season, 19th in the NHL. In the series against Minnesota, Dallas allowed 17 goals - including nine in Games 5 and 6 combined. The Stars allowed five goals in their Game 3 and 5 losses, and four Sunday, but no one is worried. "I think we feel good," Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski said. "There are areas of our game we can clean up, but we've had some good success and played some good hockey against the two teams we could face [in the next round]."

Dallas won four of five games against Chicago during the regular season and lost four of five against St. Louis, although three were in overtime or a shootout.

3. Getting the power play going: The Stars power play, which ranked fourth in the League this season by converting 22.1 percent of its opportunities, went 1-for-13 over the first three games of the series. But Dallas got two power-play goals in Game 4 and another in Game 6 to go 3-for-6 over the final three games of the series.

Video: MIN@DAL, Gm1: Faksa finishes feed from Hemsky

4. Home or road, it doesn't matter: Dallas won consistently on home ice (28-11-2) and on the road (22-12-7). The Stars did the same against the Wild, winning twice at American Airlines Center and twice at Xcel Energy Center. "It's a long process but it's the first step," Benn said. "We had a tough first round, but we are happy to win that round and we'll see who we get next."

5. The kids are all right: Three Stars made their playoff debuts in this series: forwards Radek Faksa and Mattias Janmark, and defenseman John Klingberg. Faksa had the game-winning goal in Game 1, had two points in the series, and was strong on faceoffs. Janmark, who was scratched for Game 2 when Seguin returned, finished with three assists combined in Games 5 and 6. Klingberg, fifth among NHL defensemen with 58 points this season, had no points in the first four games of the series before getting a goal and two assists combined in Games 5 and 6. "I've been feeling pretty good the whole series actually, I think I've been creating," Klingberg said.

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