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Jamie Benn 'felt good' in first preseason game

Stars captain has assist, four shots in 19:36 against Panthers

by Sean Shapiro / Correspondent

DALLAS -- It didn't look like Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn was playing his first preseason game after offseason surgery.

Benn had an assist on Patrick Eaves' game-tying goal with 5:08 remaining in a 2-1 shootout win against the Florida Panthers at American Airlines Center on Tuesday. He played 19:36 over 25 shifts and had four shots on goal, a hit and a blocked shot.

"It was fun to get back out there, I was excited to play," Benn said. "I felt good. I just tried to play my game and not think about really how my body feels and just get in it right away. For the most part, I'm happy with how I felt."

Benn had surgery July 14 to repair an injured core muscle and withdrew from Team Canada for the World Cup of Hockey 2016 on Aug. 23 to focus on getting ready for the Stars season. He didn't participate in any scrimmages during the first two weeks of training camp but otherwise was a full participant in practice.

"I thought he was good for a first game," coach Lindy Ruff said. "He was in on some good opportunities and I thought he skated well."

Benn said he could have played earlier in the preseason, but the Stars captain trusted the process and wanted to be at full strength before making his debut. He took a similar approach to the 2015 preseason following offseason surgery on each hip, and then had 89 points (41 goals, 48 assists) and was a finalist for the Hart Trophy.

Benn is expected to play in the Stars' final preseason game against the Los Angeles Kings in Las Vegas on Friday.

"We kind of stuck to the game plan we had last year through training camp and preseason," Benn said. "I think I played two of my last three last year and I plan on doing that again this year."

Benn didn't show any rust early in his first game, leading the Stars with four shots in the first period.

Midway through the period, Benn forced a turnover at center ice, sidestepped a Florida defender and nearly beat goalie James Reimer with a wrist shot.

Benn also had a slick setup on the game's first power play when he shielded off a defender and slid a one-handed pass back to the point to John Klingberg, who nearly scored the game's opening goal.

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