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'Next man up': Shorthanded Stars find way to overcome adversity in OT win

Dickinson's game-winner against the Red Wings lifts banged-up Dallas to its first 3-0-0 start since the 2010-11 season

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

DALLAS -- Same song…57th verse.

Or so it would seem for the Dallas Stars.


[WATCH: All highlights from Stars' overtime victory over Red Wings]


If it's not bad enough that the team is missing Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Joel Kiviranta and Blake Comeau to injury, Roope Hintz had some lower-body issues on Tuesday and had to be held out of the Stars' contest with the Detroit Red Wings. With Dallas juggling forward spots between the taxi squad and carrying two extra defensemen, the most logical choice was playing defenseman Mark Pysyk as a forward and filling in as best as they could.

As a result, the lads in Victory Green had five players who weren't in the lineup on opening night, including Rhett Gardner (who played his first game in almost a year) and Pysyk (who moved to forward in a system he's still learning about).

Still, this team that has handled adversity so deftly over the past year or more, did it again. The role players dug in, the star players stepped up, and Dallas took a 2-1 overtime win to push its season record to 3-0-0 for the first time since 2010-11.

Video: Bowness impressed with Stars' 'next man up' mentality

"Our philosophy here is next man up," Stars coach Rick Bowness said. "We weren't sure of our lineup until we got here tonight. We had to make adjustments and these guys found a way. Every game is not going to be a Picasso and we've said that before. Sometimes you just have to find a way to win a game. We did that."

The ending was brilliant, as defenseman John Klingberg broke up a scoring chance on one end of the ice and then danced in the offensive zone, drawing attention away from Jason Dickinson, who slipped into the high slot to hammer home a one-timer at 1:32 of overtime on a sneaky pass from Klingberg.

Video: DET@DAL: Klingberg sets up Dickinson's OT winner

It was a wonderful display of just how important Klingberg has been for this franchise. He now has six points, which ranks fifth in the NHL among defensemen, and he has done it in just three games.

"Klinger doesn't change who he is. He stays true to his game and keeps working through it," Dickinson said. "He's patient with the puck and has great vision. He's the quarterback of that power play. He's so good at that blue line and he's so good at making centers guess the wrong way and finding that open guy."


[PHOTOS: All the best shots from Stars-Red Wings at American Airlines Center]


The moment was also big for Dickinson, who might be the poster child for resilience as he bounces back from hits and injuries, gets moved from left wing to center, and is asked to both check and score when the need arises. It was his first goal of the season after getting nine last year and two more in the playoffs.

He credited Klingberg with saving him when Detroit's Anthony Mantha skated around him in the offensive zone, and then said he was just in the right place at the right time on the game-winner.

Video: Dickinson nets overtime winner in Stars' victory

"I'm lucky I've got guys out there who protect my back. Klinger cuts them off and makes it easy for me to pick up the puck behind the net and we can go from there," Dickinson said of Klingberg picking up Mantha. In the offensive zone, Dickinson read Klingberg's dangle and slid to open ice.

"The puck was lost there as he was pulling it and that's when I had the recognition to try to move high, hopefully open up a lane and I could get a pass in the slot. Klinger saw me and we scored."

But that's so like the Stars. Read, react, spread the credit around. Let's just worry about the two points in the standings. It's a fantastic philosophy if you can get your team to buy in. It's a way of life when you have to keep bouncing over hurdle after hurdle.

Rookie Ty Dellandrea played 18:53 and went 6-for-12 in the faceoff circle. Tanner Kero played 15:41 and had five shot attempts. Veteran Justin Dowling played 15:09 and won 5-of-9 faceoffs. Pysyk played 8:33 as a forward, and Joel Hanley logged a tidy 11:28 in Pysyk's spot on defense.

It was like a shift change at the factory. The conveyor belt keeps running, and the next group of employees moves seamlessly in.

The Red Wings have been struggling and fall to 2-4-1. The Stars have played all three games at home and have been fortunate to have a red hot power play at the time.

But these wins are also a sign that Dallas has earned a lot in its run to the Stanley Cup Final and can endure, survive and manufacture wins. They did it in the Edmonton bubble, and they're doing it now.

Video: Klingberg earns Razor's player of the game honors

"It shows that we've been drafting well and signing good free agents," said Klingberg of the input from the new guys. "We're a big family where everyone steps up when they need to. When some guys go down, other guys step up."

Dallas got behind for the first time this year when Detroit scored on its first shot of the game at 11:37 of the first period. But the Stars found a way through and got back on the man advantage, and Klingberg made it work again. Joe Pavelski won the faceoff, Denis Gurianov moved it quickly to the point, and Klingberg whipped a shot in just four seconds into the power play.

Video: DET@DAL: Klingberg nets PPG off the draw

It was the Stars' ninth power-play goal in three games, and that's the main reason for the quick start. But as you dissect all of the details, well, there is good goaltending, there is great team defense, and there is sacrifice from a lot of guys.

We probably shouldn't be surprised.

"Any kind of adversity is going to grow you as a player," said Dickinson. "We've been through a lot as a group; we played through the bubble and we had guys step up and keep playing, and tonight they did too. We've got a good group of guys."

It's a pretty good song when you think about it.


Up next

vs. Red Wings, 7:30 p.m. Thursday

TV: FOX Sports Southwest

Radio: The Ticket 96.7-FM, 1310-AM

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika, and listen to his podcast.

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