SAP Center is sorta Joe Pavelski’s house, so why wouldn’t Wyatt Johnston be comfortable there?

For the second consecutive game, Johnston lit up the Sharks on the road, tallying three points in a 6-3 Dallas win on Tuesday. That comes on the heels of a five-point night (3 goals 2 assists) in this same building March 5. In the end, the evening left 20-year-old Johnston as the team’s leading goal scorer with 28, and left the Stars in first place in the Central Division.

“He’s grabbed us and carried us in the last two games we’ve played in here,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “He’s playing with a lot of confidence. He’s got a lot of jump in his legs, he’s starting to pull away from people on the ice.”

Johnston did that on a first period shorthanded goal that opened the scoring. He then made a nifty play behind the net to get a puck to captain Jamie Benn, who scored for the fifth straight game. Then, he and Benn worked a perfect give-and-go in transition and Johnson scored a beautiful goal to make it 5-3.

Pete DeBoer on the Benn-Johnston pairing

“It’s pretty impressive,” Benn said of Johnston’s work. “It’s a lot of fun to play with him. His game is solid, he competes, I like that he’s shooting more this year. He’s just an all-around two-way player and he’s doing a great job.”

Johnston broke in as a 19-year-old and made the All-Rookie Team with 41 points (24 goals, 17 assists) in 82 games. This season, he already has 57 points (28 goals, 29 assists) in 73 games. In addition, he has 13 points (8 goals, 5 assists) in the past 12 games as the team has gone 10-2-0.

“I think it’s coming with that right mindset every night and making sure everyone is ready to play every night,” Johnston said.

The Stars haven’t been perfect, and the two games in San Jose are great examples. Dallas had to scratch back to win a 7-6 game on March 5, and then allowed three goals in the second period tonight.

Jamie Benn on the last 10 games of the season

“We won an important game, an important two points on the road,” DeBoer said. “This building hasn’t been easy for us to play in. Credit to them, they played hard. They made us earn it, but we did what we were supposed to do.”

In addition to the two goals and an assist for Johnston, Benn had a goal and two assists, and Jason Robertson had two goals. Mason Marchment also scored a beautiful highlight reel goal, giving him 20 markers on the season. The Stars now have seven 20-goal scorers on the same team – that’s the most in the NHL and sets a new Dallas record.

“We’re starting on time. We’re not sluggish coming out of the start,” Robertson said. “Everyone is really churning right now, really contributing, playing the right way and not deviating from what works and what we want to do. I think it’s contagious. You see one guy do it properly and you just want to go out there and do it and the results speak for themselves.”

Jason Robertson speaks to the media postgame

Dallas is now 45-19-9 (99 points). Colorado is 46-21-5 (97 points) after losing to Montreal on Tuesday, and Winnipeg is 44-22-6 (94 points) after an overtime loss to the Oilers. That’s important as all three teams jockey for playoff positioning down the stretch.

The first-place team in the Central will play a wild card team, while second and third place will play each other.

In addition, the Stars play Vancouver on Thursday and the two teams are battling for the top of the Western Conference. In fact, Dallas is right there with a handful of teams battling for the best record in hockey with nine games remaining in the regular season.

“I don’t think you take the time to enjoy that stuff while you’re in it,” DeBoer said. “We’ve got a lot of business left to take care of.”

Wyatt Johnston on calming things down in the 2nd

Let’s just say they cleaned house in San Jose along the way.

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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