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'Just a matter of time': Benn delivers dramatic winner for Stars in OT

The captain ends a 15-game scoring drought against the Oilers, pushing Dallas' hot streak to 10-1-1

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

EDMONTON, Alberta -- Jamie Benn let his natural talent take over, stickhandling around goalie Mikko Koskinen and scoring in overtime Saturday to lead the Stars to a 5-4 victory against the Edmonton Oilers.

But as important as the goal was in getting a win for the Stars and pushing their current hot streak to 10-1-1, it was even bigger for Benn, who broke a 15-game goal drought, the longest of his career.

 

[WATCH: All Stars at Oilers highlights]

 

As the puck nestled into the net and Dallas took an unexpected comeback victory, Benn put his hands up and looked to the heavens, thanking the hockey gods and clearly shedding a huge weight.

"I can't believe it went in," Benn said when asked about the reaction.

Clearly, he can believe it. He has, after all, scored 283 goals in his career. The problem is before Saturday, he had just one this season. Benn had seven points in 20 games and is on pace for the worst season of his career. Coming off a disappointing 55-point season in 2018-19, Benn was starting to feel the pressure of performing below his expectations.

And when Stars coach Jim Montgomery said Sunday he was "very disappointed" in the output of Benn and Tyler Seguin, well, the discussion became a little more public. After a day off Monday, Montgomery apologized and said the statement was fueled by emotion. Benn and Seguin said Tuesday they didn't need an apology and agreed with Montgomery -- that they needed to be better.

In the next three games, they have been. Benn and Seguin helped fuel a strong performance in which Justin Dowling scored a key goal Wednesday in Calgary. They then were key players Thursday in a 4-2 win over Vancouver. Finally, they helped engineer the comeback against the Oilers and came up big in overtime.

Video: DAL@EDM: Benn nets backhander for OT winner

It was a clear sign that they are coming out of the slump -- a clear sign that maybe all of this talk wasn't such a bad thing.

"I mean, the whole thing was blown out of proportion. It wasn't a big deal," Benn said. "Me and Segs didn't think it was a big deal. We needed to play better. I thought we've played pretty good hockey since the no-big-deal whatever."

Which is a perfect way to sum all of this up. The "no-big-deal whatever" was there, and the team reacted well to it. Benn and Seguin each played better, and their shuffling linemates -- Dowling and Jason Dickinson -- played better, as well.

With Dallas having to match up with the two leading scorers in the NHL Saturday -- Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid -- Montgomery moved Dickinson onto a line with Benn and Seguin. That line had to go up against Draisaitl and McDavid for a good deal of time, and that created challenges.

"Those two are our leaders. When those guys are going, it's easy for us to follow them," Dickinson said. "It's easy when Chubbs (Benn) is playing the way he plays. It's amazing, because he controls the game and sets the pace, and then the emotional level, it's easy to ride his wave."

Seguin set up Dickinson for a first period goal, and then Dickinson and Benn set up Miro Heiskanen for a second period goal. Of course, inbetween, Benn was on the ice for four goals against before he took part in the game-tying goal and also scored the game-winner.

It was a wild ride to be sure, but one that showed just what Benn and Seguin can do when matched up against the best in the league.

Video: DAL@EDM: Seguin ties it late, gets 600th NHL point

"They're stud players in this league and when they play like that, our team is going to be elite all of the time," Montgomery said, adding that seeing Benn score and break his drought is a relief.

"It's a relief because he's got rewarded for the past three games, because I think he's been a stud and Seggy has been a stud," Montgomery said. "For them to get the goals at the big moments, like we said, it was just a matter of time."

Which, you can say a lot this season.

It was just a matter of time until the team defense started to play like last season.

It was just a matter of time until the goaltending started to play like last season.

It was just a matter of time until the best players started to score again.

On Saturday, it was just a matter of time until the Stars found a way to win the game against the red-hot Oilers and the best scorers in the league.

Video: DAL@EDM: Dickinson finishes pass to start scoring

Even with Anton Khudobin replacing starter Ben Bishop. Even with McDavid and Draisaitl playing 27 minutes each. Even with the Oilers dictating a pace that didn't really fit what the Stars have been used to this year.

"There's never any quit in our team," Benn said, sizing up the small picture and big picture all at the same time. "Those two kids over there, they're going to score. They're great players and you tip your hat to them. But we found a way to get five."

Montgomery said it was all part of the process.

"To come back from 4-2, to know you can do it," Montgomery said. "It's one thing to think you can do it, it's another to believe you can do it. And once you accomplish it, it's easier to do again."

At least that's what a guy like Jamie Benn is probably thinking right now.

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 DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika, and listen to his podcast.

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