Jake Oettinger gave his teammates the chance to get up off the canvas Saturday, and they took advantage.

Once they did, Dallas was able to use a complete team effort to take a 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers at American Airlines Center to even its best-of-seven Western Conference Final series at 1-1.

“Jake was unbelievable,” Stars captain Jamie Benn said. “We don’t win that game without Jakey tonight.”

Jamie Benn speaks to the media after Game 2

Oettinger finished with 28 saves, 15 of which came in the first period, and that may have helped change this series. The Oilers were able to outlast the Stars in double overtime in Game 1, and then dominated the first period Saturday to send a message that there was a possibility they were just going to take the series over. But Oettinger refused to let that happen. While the puck largely stayed in the Stars’ end of the ice, Dallas mustered just four shots on net against Edmonton goalie Stuart Skinner. That created quite a bit of nervousness in the home crowd, and maybe even in the dressing room.

“If he doesn’t play the way he did in the first, we’re in a big hole and we might not get out of it,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “He was our best player tonight and he allowed us to weather the storm in the first, get our legs under us and find a way to get control of that game.”

Pete DeBoer speaks to the media after Game 2

But Benn was a dominant force in the first period, scoring the Stars’ only goal (which was their only shot on goal for a significant amount of time) on an energetic shift in which he burst up the right wing and fired a shot past Skinner for his fourth of the playoffs. Edmonton came back 44 seconds later with a quick response goal, and it stayed deadlocked until three minutes into the third period.

However, Benn and his linemates did a lot of good things without changing the scoreboard. They set the tone early in the second period with a gritty shift, and Dallas finished with an 11-8 advantage in shots on goal. The third period was even better as Dallas held the dangerous Oilers to just five shots on goal.

“He’s led the way all year and in particular in the playoffs,” DeBoer said. “I think he’s found another level for us.”

At the same time they were doing that, the Stars got the go-ahead goal from the unlikely group of Mason Marchment, Ty Dellandrea, Sam Steel, Ryan Suter and Alexander Petrovic. After a hard shift in which the Stars won a couple of puck battles, Suter put a shot on goal that Marchement was able to deflect, and that generated both relief and confidence all at the same time.

“All year, someone different stepped up,” said Suter. “That’s the benefit of our team – the depth guys. Pete trusts everybody. We were all working for it . . . It works well because you have a system that everyone knows and everyone is on top of. We all try to play the same way. That helps.”

Ryan Suter speaks to the media after Game 2

The team defense then shut things down, and Esa Lindell added an empty-net goal as the final tally.

The Stars have had their ups and downs in the playoffs and have come back from deficits in each of the first two rounds. So while the fear was present that they could go down 0-2 in this series, they simply were able to lean on some old lessons and a knack for bouncing back.

“We weren’t good enough in the first,” Marchment said. “Jakey stood on his head and made some massive saves and allowed us to get our feet wet after the first period. After that, we took over and started playing our game, playing low and getting pucks in. For the rest of the game, we did a great job.”

Oettinger and Marchment speak to the media postgame

The Stars will now hit the road, where they are 5-1 so far in the playoffs. They won both Games 3 and 4 in Vegas and Colorado, but they expect things are going to be just as tough, if not tougher in Edmonton.

Asked what he expects in Edmonton for Games 3 and 4, Benn said, “Craziness. They’ve got great fans up there and they’re passionate about hockey.”

DeBoer said it’s nothing the team hasn’t seen before.

“For sure, but is it any crazier than Vegas on the road or Colorado on the road?” DeBoer said. “It’s another really tough rink with great fans with a great team. We’ve got a formula that works for us, but we’ve got to go up there and do it again.”

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.

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