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How Stars' faith sparked Dickinson: 'It's me fighting for my career'

Confidence and comfort have given the former first-round pick a new outlook, and it's showing on the ice

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

Depth scoring has helped fuel the last two wins for the Dallas Stars with eight different players not named Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, or Alexander Radulov scoring all nine goals in wins over the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks.

Helping lead the charge was forward Jason Dickinson, who scored two goals and assisted on another. He recorded one assist in Tuesday's win over the Kings and then tallied two goals and one assist in Thursday's win over the Ducks, his first multi-goal and multi-point game in the NHL.

Dickinson was one of six players who scored for the first time this season over the past two games.

"It obviously feels good scoring," Dickinson said. "It's nice to get it out of the way and stop fighting myself in my head."

And it was a boost for the Stars to see the scoring wealth spread throughout the lineup after Seguin, Benn, Radulov, and defenseman John Klingberg had scored 15 of the team's 19 goals heading into Tuesday's game against the Kings.

"I don't think it was a matter of confidence when we weren't scoring, it was just a matter of execution," said Dickinson. "I think we have all just dug down and got desperate like coach wants us to and we are going to the net a lot more, and it's something as simple as that. That will spark goals for everyone, so it just came down to execution."

Video: ANA@DAL: Dickinson lights the lamp with sweet move

Stars coach Jim Montgomery called Tuesday's game Dickinson's best of the season. Then came the three-point night Thursday.

"I think it's been building since training camp," Montgomery said. "For a player to start to gain confidence in this league, it's not easy. We thought he had a really good training camp and then the season started with a bit of inconsistency, but you're starting to see it build."

Dickinson came into the season riding a wave of confidence after the Stars signed him to a one-year, one-way contract worth $875,000 as he came out of his three-year, entry-level deal.

The new contract showed that the Stars had faith in Dickinson, a first-round pick (29th overall) in 2013.

"Every year I've come into camp and thought, 'I am going to crack this squad, I am going to make this team,' but maybe I left a little bit in the dressing room every other year. This year, I feel they obviously believe in me," Dickinson said as he came into camp. "They've given me the one-year contract to show my stuff and put it all out there. I think I have taken the reins now, and I am not leaving it up to anyone else. It's now on me.

"It's me fighting for my career."

Video: Dickinson likes the team's depth scoring

The contract and opportunity followed an up and down 2017-18 season for Dickinson. It was up and down on a couple of fronts. He was involved in 17 transactions as he moved between the Texas Stars of the AHL and Dallas of the NHL. He was outstanding in the AHL where he put up 28 points (18 goals, 10 assists) in 42 regular season games.

It was a different story in the NHL where he could never gain any traction and picked up two assists in 27 games. It was tough going back and forth from being a top-six guy in the AHL who played in all situations to a fourth-line role in the NHL. But Dickinson took the experience in stride.

"I think I could take positives out of that season. There's too much learning that happened last year that I can't sit back and complain about being up and down all year," Dickinson said.

"It's a learning process, and I am still only 23. It's good to learn while you are young because you still have plenty of years ahead of you to take that and translate it into every day and then making the best of every day from then on."

Dickinson spent the end of last season back in the AHL where Texas made a great run in the playoffs, advancing to the Calder Cup Finals and falling to the Toronto Marlies in seven games.

"That was an unbelievable experience," Dickinson said. "That was one of the learning points for me last year. That hockey that we played in the playoffs, even in juniors when we went through the playoffs and to the Memorial Cup Final, you learn from those kinds of games and those kinds of situations. There is so much expected of you, and it's not like you can get away with mistakes.

Video: ANA@DAL: Dickinson buries second goal of the game

"That's what it is at the NHL (level) -- every game, there is so much expected of you."

Dickinson used that experience as he came to Dallas training camp this season and earned a roster spot with a strong performance in the preseason. It didn't hurt that Dickinson felt comfortable playing in Montgomery's system.

"I like to play with speed," Dickinson said. "I like to catch pucks and attack right away. It's not my game to really build things, I am more of a grab the puck and go style, so it works for me."

There have been some ups and downs early in the regular season, including two healthy scratches, but Dickinson has taken that in stride, and the confidence hasn't wavered.

"I've felt confident from the first game, and even when coach took me out of the lineup, nothing stepped differently from me," Dickinson said. "I felt just fine being out of the lineup, and I understood that guys have got to play, and that's kind of where I'm at right now in my career. So I just kind of sat there, watched the game, took it in and took it for what it is and kept playing."

And all that paid dividends this week for Dickinson who was key in helping the Stars get two much-needed wins before they embark on a big six-game road trip starting Sunday in Detroit.

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

Mark Stepneski has covered the Stars for since 2012. Follow him on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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