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Jamie Benn's overtime goal lifts Stars over Wild

Stars win first overtime game of season, Honka and Oleksiak shine on defense

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

The overtime drought is over for the Dallas Stars. Jamie Benn's goal at 1:23 of overtime lifted the Stars to a 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild Monday night at American Airlines Center.

The OT win was the first in six tries for the Stars this season and snapped a streak of nine straight losses in three-on-three overtime dating back to last season.

"It felt good," said Benn. "I'm not going to lie. It was nice to finally win one in overtime."

After Tyler Seguin forced a Minnesota turnover in the Dallas end during the overtime, the Stars tallied off the rush. Seguin sent a cross-ice pass to Benn, who scored from the left circle.

"It all started with Seggy in the defensive zone," said Benn. "He won his battle, he knocked his guy off the puck. We threw it around quickly in the neutral zone, Jordie [Benn] made a good pass to Seguin and Seguin made a good pass to me."

Video: Benn lifts Stars past Wild in OT, 3-2

Another key storyline to the game was the Dallas defense. It had a different look Monday as Julius Honka, Jamie Oleksiak, and Esa Lindell entered the lineup with Johnny Oduya out with an injury, John Klingberg scratched for missing a team meeting and Ruff deciding to sit Stephen Johns for a game. The additions didn't disappoint. Oleksiak scored his first goal of the season and giving the Stars a shot of energy with a fight, Honka picked up an assist in his NHL debut and Lindell ranked second among Dallas defensemen with 21:46 of ice time.

"I thought [the defense] played very well," said Ruff. "I don't think we gave up a chance in the first period. I thought our puck movement, our play coming through the neutral zone, was probably as good as it's been all year. I really liked what they all did, and it was simple and effective. They got back and moved it quick, they found their outlets. They made some plays in the middle of the ice where we generated some chances that we hadn't generated in a long time."

Brett Ritchie also scored a goal, and Antti Niemi stopped 27 of 29 shots for the Stars, who improved to 8-7-5 on the season. They are 4-1-2 in their past seven games. The Wild (9-7-2) lost for the sixth time in the past nine games.

"At the end of the day we are fortunate to get a point out of this game," said Wild forward Nino Niederreiter, who had one goal and one assist. "We weren't playing the way we should've played. I felt like we were a little sloppy, making too many mistakes. At the end of the day, we found a way to be in the game and go to overtime. That is the one positive thing."

There was no scoring in the first period. The highlight of the period was a spirited fight at center ice between Oleksiak and Wild forward Chris Stewart at center ice.

"We just made eye contact and we figured it was time to get a little energy into the game," Oleksiak said. "I thought it was a good fight all the way around and the boys responded well after that, and the end result after that was definitely worth it."

Oleksiak broke the scoreless tie less than two minutes after the Stars killed off Minnesota's second power play of the game. Jason Spezza took a pass from Patrick Sharp off the rush, backhanded the puck on net and Oleksiak scored on the rebound to put Dallas up 1-0 at 7:19 of the first period.

"I saw a lot of bodies, and I was just whacking away," Oleksiak said. "I think that was my first career backhand goal. It was nice to get that one and contribute."

Said Ruff: "[Oleksiak] had a fight, he had a goal and I thought he played very well too. Obviously, he doesn't get in on a lot of offense, so it was great to see him get up ice and get rewarded for it. Stepping in physically, I think if he becomes a physical force he'll be a tough guy to take out of the lineup."

The Wild drew even late in the second on their third power play of the night. Mikael Granlund set up Niederreiter, who put the puck into the open side of the net at the 17:22 mark.

The Stars grabbed a 2-1 lead at 1:01 of the third when Honka carried the puck deep and centered to Ritchie, who redirected it into the net. Honka recorded his first NHL assist and point on the play.

"It feels good. Obviously, it was my first point. It was just another play in that game, and it was good," Honka said. "It was an honor to play with these guys. It felt good."

Said Ruff: "I thought [Honka] played well. He kept the game in front of him, kept it simple. He made a real nice play off the faceoff to find Ritchie. Defensively I thought he did a good job for his first game. There must have been nerves, and he was pretty excited about playing. I liked his game."

Minnesota tied it 2-2 exactly three minutes later on a goal by Erik Haula, who scored off a scramble in front of the net. The scored stayed that way until overtime, when Benn scored and gave the Stars their first overtime win since Feb. 15, 2016.

"I thought it was a huge team win," Oleksiak said. "We knew defense was going to be big this game and we capitalized on our opportunities. Top to bottom we played a solid, responsible game and it's huge to get an OT win to build some confidence in that situation and keep moving from here."

Notes

*Julius Honka played 21:01, had one assist and a team-high five shots on goal in his NHL debut. His nine shot attempts were tied for the team lead with Tyler Seguin.

*Jamie Oleksiak's goal was the second of his NHL career.

*Stars forward Patrick Eaves picked up an assist Monday to extend his points streak to six games (six goals, two assists).

*The Stars outshot the Wild 32-29 and had a 73-63 advantage in shot attempts.

*The Stars were 0-2 on the power play and 2-3 on the penalty kill.

*The Stars won 34 of 74 faceoffs (46 percent).

*Cody Eakin won 14 of 27 faceoffs (52 percent). Jason Spezza won 10 of 20 (50 percent). Radek Faksa won 7 of 15 (47 percent).

*Stars coach Lindy Ruff said the hope is that defenseman Johnny Oduya will miss only about three games with a lower-body injury.

What's Next

The Stars hit the road for a game at Nashville Wednesday. This will be the second meeting between the Stars and Predators this season. Dallas won, 2-1, in Nashville on Oct. 18.

Stars Lineup

Jamie Benn - Cody Eakin - Tyler Seguin
Patrick Sharp - Jason Spezza - Patrick Eaves
Antoine Roussel - Radek Faksa - Brett Ritchie
Lauri Korpikoski - Devin Shore - Adam Cracknell

Dan Hamhuis - Julius Honka
Esa Lindell - Jordie Benn
Patrik Nemeth - Jamie Oleksiak

Antti Niemi
Kari Lehtonen

Scratched: John Klingberg, Curtis McKenzie, Stephen Johns
Injured: Johnny Oduya (lower body), Jiri Hudler (illness), Mattias Janmark (knee), Ales Hemsky (hip)

This story was not subject to 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.

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