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Seguin strikes again for Dallas in Winnipeg

by Patrick Williams

WINNIPEG - Tyler Seguin has found himself a new home with the Dallas Stars this season, but he's also made himself quite comfortable inside MTS Centre.

Seguin combined with linemate Jamie Benn to overwhelm the Winnipeg Jets 6-4 on Saturday. Seguin scored twice and assisted on both of Benn's goals, giving him his second two-goal, two-assist outing at Winnipeg this season. Benn ended an 11-game goal drought by scoring for the first time since Nov. 14, and defenseman Sergei Gonchar finished with four assists, a career-high in his 19th NHL season.

Winnipeg overcame three one-goal deficits to tie the score 3-3 late in the second period. But Jets forward Anthony Peluso was assessed a major penalty for boarding for a hit to Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski with 4:32 left in the period, giving the Stars' 30th-ranked power play five minutes to work.

"I thought the Peluso hit was a joke," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "For a guy who plays that amount of time and runs a guy like Goligoski from behind. The hit is just stupid, and it's something that we want to get rid of. There's no place for it. It was a hard-hitting game, a lot of emotion in the game. But we don't have any room for that type of hit."

The Stars got their revenge on the scoreboard. Benn needed 2:18 to put the Stars ahead, ripping his second goal of the game past Ondrej Pavelec for a 4-3 lead. Seguin scored again 62 seconds later with the Stars still on the power play, unleashing a heavy left-point shot that beat Pavelec for a 5-3 lead.

"Up until that [five-minute major], it was a 3-3 game," Jets captain Andrew Ladd said. "It's more the mental errors and not playing a smart game that [hurts] us every time."

The win pushed the Stars (15-11-5), who broke a two-game losing skid, two points ahead of Winnipeg in the Central Division. The Stars hold three games in hand.

Colton Sceviour scored his first NHL goal in his season debut with the Stars, and rookie Valeri Nichushkin scored his fifth of the season and his third in his past six games. Kari Lehtonen, who exited Dallas' previous visit to Winnipeg with a lower-body injury that caused him to miss the next five games, made 34 saves.

The Jets (14-15-5) finished a three-game all-Central Division homestand with an 0-2-1 record after returning from a 4-2-0 road trip. They entered the day eight points out of a playoff berth, have seven wins in their first 19 home games (7-8-4) and have not won at MTS Centre since Nov. 15 (0-3-3).

"It was a tough one," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "A tough homestand for us, no doubt."

A goal from Matt Halischuk, two goals from Blake Wheeler, and a late goal by Olli Jokinen accounted for the Jets' offense. Pavelec stopped 19 of 24 shots before Al Montoya replaced him to start the third period and allowed one goal on eight shots.

Stuck in a 2-for-30 power-play slump, the Stars dedicated most of their practice time Friday to special-teams play. The practice paid off with a 2-for-5 performance.

"We said it before the game - [special-teams play] was going to make the difference," Benn said. "Our power play got a couple [of goals], and it made a difference."

The Stars have two games this season in which they have scored two power-play goals; both have come at Winnipeg.

"We've been getting so many chances and haven't been getting bounces," Seguin said of his team's power play. "We know that the top teams in the [Western Conference] have great special teams, so we've been trying to figure that out."

Seguin had two goals and two assists in his previous visit to MTS Centre, a 4-1 Dallas win on Oct. 11, and has two four-point performances in his past four games.

Seguin scored 7:14 into the game before Halischuk scored his third goal of the season halfway through the first period. Halischuk later exited the game near the end of the first period with an upper-body injury after blocking a shot by Dallas forward Alex Chiasson and did not return. Nichushkin's goal at 14:24 gave Dallas a 2-1 lead after one period.

Wheeler tied it again 12:58 into the second period, Benn scored 48 seconds to give the Stars a 3-2 lead, and Wheeler scored again at 14:53 to get the Jets even at 3-3. Wheeler has 11 goals this season; six of them have come in his past six games after he went 14 games without a goal.

But the game then fell apart for the Jets, who had a very unhappy dressing room afterward.

"What I say doesn't matter," Wheeler said. "It's what you do out on the ice. You can blow smoke as much as you want out in the media; we've been blowing smoke for three years. [I] and everyone who has stood in front of a microphone for three years, we've said the same [words]. What do you want me to say? That's about it. I don't really know what else to say."

The Stars took a 1-0 lead when Gonchar took advantage of a botched Winnipeg line change and zipped a pass through the neutral zone that reached Seguin at the Winnipeg blue line. Seguin broke across and snapped a high, hard shot over Pavelec's blocker. Halischuk replied 2:58 later when he fished the rebound of Mark Scheifele's shot from between the circles and slid it past Lehtonen.

The Stars jumped on another bad Winnipeg line change to regain their lead. Nichushkin, the 10th pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, raced through the neutral zone, cruised past Halischuk and defenseman Jacob Trouba, and tucked the puck past Pavelec.

"I didn't think we played a very intelligent game, and it reflected in their first two goals," Noel said.

Ladd reflected his coach's frustration.

"Their strength is their offensive attack and the guys they have up front," Ladd said. "We gave them, I don't know how many, 2-on-1 and breakaways. The first two goals were just terrible changes. That's just mental stuff that, to me, quite frankly, is embarrassing."

Wheeler and Dallas forward Antoine Roussel took coincidental delay-of-game penalties for a skirmish before a faceoff. When the two exited the penalty box, and the Jets having just finished their second 5-on-3 power play of the period and still on the second half of another power play, Wheeler headed straight toward the Dallas net and beat Lehtonen.

Benn knocked in a rebound to make it 3-2, but Wheeler tied it again when he drew Lehtonen far out of his net before putting a shot under the crossbar.

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