For the second game in a row, Dallas overcame an early deficit to take a victory. On Sunday, it took three power play goals in the third period -- including a Jamie Benn
shot with 50 seconds left in the game -- to result in a 5-4 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The win pushes Dallas to 2-0-0, best in the Western Conference Pool. The Stars will play Minnesota (1-0-1) on Tuesday, with the winner advancing to the championship game against the winner of the Eastern Conference Pool on Wednesday.
"It was a bit of a struggle to play today, and we didn’t have our best game, but it’s a big thing to fight back and it’s a big thing to win,’’ said James Neal, who had two goals in the third period and now has four points in the tournament. "We’ve set the goal to play in the late game on Wednesday, and that’s something we have a chance to do now. That’s a great feeling.’’
Dallas got down 2-0 against St. Louis Saturday, before fighting back for a 4-3 win. On Sunday, they trailed 3-1 after 10 minutes. Tyler Beskorowany
, the Stars top pick in the 2008 draft, was actually very strong in net. However, Columbus made some great plays to score its first three goals. Brampton standout John Hughes (91 points in 68 games last season) fed Matt Calvert wide open in front of the net for the first goal and found Brian McGuirk alone in front for the third goal, as well. Brandon Mashinter was fed by Maksim Mayorov for the second goal.
Dallas came back on a power play goal by Trevor Ludwig on a strong shot from the right point, and then cut the deficit to 3-2 on a goal by tryout player Marc-Andre Dorion. Much heralded free agent Fabian Brunnstrom had the first assist on each goal and finished the game with three assists.
Hughes and potential Calder Trophy candidate Jakub Voracek (101 points in 53 games for Halifax last season) combined to score the fourth goal for Columbus, and seemingly drive a stake through the tired Stars, but it only served to provide more motivation. Dallas continued to push hard to come back, and drew five power plays for the remainder of the game. They scored on three of them.
Dallas was 2-for-9 with the man advantage before that stretch and had blown a couple of 5-on-3s, but Neal and Aaron Gagnon took over. Neal scored twice, and Gagnon added two assists, as the Stars tied the game at the 8:55 mark of the third period when Neal made a dazzling play down the middle of the slot. Gagnon received a puck with his back to the goal and then pushed it out to Neal in the high slot. Instead of shooting, though, Neal faked out Columbus goalie Sebastien Dahm, pulled him out of the net, skated around him and slipped the puck into the goal.
"I’ve played against Sebastien Dahm a lot in the OHL,’’ Neal said. "He’s a great goalie, but he’s a smaller guy and he tends to pop out at you, so I just felt if I held onto the puck and made a quick move, I thought I might get to an open net.’’
Beskorowany then came up with some big saves down the stretch, and that allowed the Stars to get the game-winner. Benn scored his second consecutive game-winning goal as he popped in a shot from the wing into an open net.
Dallas finished with 32 shots on goal after getting 36 in Game 1.
"A lot of guys struggled early, but they came back strong,’’ said Stars co-general manager Les Jackson. "I think this is such a whirlwind that they were running on adrenalin in the first game, and it probably hit them today. To be strong enough mentally to fight through that, it’s a good thing.’’Barnes Behind The Bench
Stu Barnes is serving as an assistant coach on the bench. After announcing his retirement this summer and then getting named an assistant coach for the Stars, Barnes said he still was adjusting to the new job, which includes running the defense during the tournament.
"It’s a new angle, that’s for sure,’’ Barnes said. "Everything comes at you in a hurry, because you’re trying to keep track of your players and still trying to watch the game and see what’s going on. It’s a lot to juggle.’’
Barnes, who is not expected to coach from the bench during the regular season, gave a lot of credit to Idaho Steelheads coach Derek Laxdal, who is serving as head coach in the tournament, as well as Andy Moog.
"There’s a ton to learn and this is a good way to do it,’’ Barnes said. "I’ve gotten a lot of help from Lax and Mooger, so it’s been a great experience. I just need to keep learning and keep my eyes and ears open.’’ Related News: Stars Win Traverse City Debut over St. Louis, 4-3