Stars captain Jamie Benn took the blame for Saturday night’s 4-1 loss in Nashville, going as far to say he may have been the worst player in the game. Tuesday night he was the best player in the game and his linemate Tyler Seguin was right there with him. Benn had one goal, three assists and a fight and Seguin scored three goals as the Stars defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets, 4-2, at Nationwide Arena.
“That was an awesome display,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “Both guys played well. Seguin had a heck of a game and Benner the same thing.”
Neither Benn nor Seguin had registered a point in the Stars’ first two games, but on this night they accounted for all four Dallas goals, were both a plus-four and combined for ten shots on goal.
“The message between the two of us was we need to raise our compete level,” said Seguin.
The Stars, who improved to 1-1-1 on the season, received a 33-save effort from goaltender Kari Lehtonen.
The Stars built a 2-0 lead in the first period, saw Columbus score twice in the second to tie, but then broke the deadlock on a Seguin goal with 7:44 remaining.
“We want a killer instinct, so we are disappointed with letting them back in the game. Our discipline has to be better down the road. I think we stepped up in the third,” said Seguin. “It’s a great feeling to the get win, especially on the road. They’re a tough team and they’ve had a good start. They’ve got some big boys over there that compete hard. We worked hard tonight.”
Ryan Johansen scored twice for Columbus, which fell to 2-1-0 and found themselves trailing for the first time in a game this season when Dallas jumped out to an early lead.
“They were hungry. They came out and put us on our heels,” said Columbus coach Todd Richards. “Then it came down to battles and playing with speed and they won most of the battles in the first period.”
The Stars controlled the first period, outshooting the Blue Jackets 14-8 and getting goals from Seguin and Benn to take a 2-0 lead. Seguin struck 3:36 into the game, redirecting a Benn pass by Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to give the Stars the early lead. Less than three minutes later, Benn tallied a highlight reel goal, stealing the puck twice in the offensive zone and scoring off a wrist shot from the slot at the 6:20 mark.
“Just trying to win a battle,” Benn said. “It was pretty scrambly up there, but I found a way. Once I got out of there I found some room and made a good shot.”
The Blue Jackets bounced back in the second, outshooting the Stars 16-9 and tying the game on two goals by Johansen. Johansen scored on a wrist shot off the rush at the 6:17 mark to cut the Stars’ lead to 2-1. Johansen tied the game on Columbus’ fourth power play of the night, knocking home the rebound of a Nick Foligno shot at 14:22 of the second.
Benn completed a Gordie Howe hat trick – a goal, assist and fight - late in the second, dropping the gloves with Foligno.
“I was just trying to get the momentum back on our side. I figured it was a good time to fight,” Benn said.
“Sometimes it is those uncharacteristic things that spur your team on,” said Ruff. “You are sitting on the bench and you’ve just seen your captain go at it, you’ve seen him put up some offensive numbers, so it is time for you to do your part.”
Lehtonen came up big early in the third, stopping Cam Atkinson on a breakaway to keep it a 2-2 game. He had another big save on a point-blank chance by Alexander Wennberg after a Dallas turnover.
Benn then set up the game-winner with 7:44 remaining, blasting a puck on net that Seguin tipped past Bobrovsky to put the Stars up 3-2. Seguin rounded out the scoring with a late empty-net goal to complete his hat trick and seal the Stars’ first win of the season.
Nichushkin to miss time due to injury
Stars forward Valeri Nichushkin is going to miss some time due to a groin/hip injury. Nichushkin did not travel with the team to Columbus, staying in Dallas to be evaluated by doctors.
“Val is going to have to gradually get into workouts again,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “There is nothing too serious. He is going to be on some medication and we’ll see how he reacts to that. He’ll start skating on his own and I’d say a seven to ten-day window before he practices with the team again. It was encouraging.”
With Nichushkin out, it could mean that Curtis McKenzie could be sticking around awhile. The Stars recalled McKenzie from the Texas Stars of the AHL prior to Tuesday’s game.
*Tyler Seguin notched his fifth career hat trick and his fourth with the Stars.
*The Stars and Blue Jackets each had 35 shots in Tuesday’s game.
*Dallas directed 61 shots towards the net and Columbus put 56 shots towards the net.
*Seguin led the Stars with six shots on goal.
*The Stars won 32 of 74 faceoffs (43 percent).
*Seguin won 8 of 13 draws (62 percent). Jason Spezza won 9 of 16 (56 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 8 of 16 (50 percent). Cody Eakin won 6 of 23 (26 percent).
*The Stars were 0-1 on the power play and 3-4 on the penalty kill.
*Alex Goligoski led the Stars with 25:11 of ice time.
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Colton Sceviour
Patrick Eaves – Jason Spezza – Ales Hemsky
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Ryan Garbutt
Shawn Horcoff – Vernon Fiddler – Erik Cole
Alex Goligoski – Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn – Brenden Dillon
Kevin Connauton – Patrik Nemeth
Scratched: D Jamie Oleksiak, Curtis McKenzie
Injured: RW Valeri Nichushkin (groin/hip), D Sergei Gonchar (ankle)
Injured Non-Roster: C Rich Peverley (heart)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.