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Klingberg's overtime goal pushes Stars past Wild

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Defenseman John Klingberg capped off an impressive night by scoring 3:18 into overtime to lift the Dallas Stars to a 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild at American Airlines Center Saturday night.

"You can write whatever you want. He was pretty darn good again” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said of Klingberg.

Added Jason Spezza: “He’s not a bad player. We might keep him.”

Klingberg scored on a two-one-rush in overtime, taking a pass from Tyler Seguin and roofing a shot over Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk from close range.

"I think they got caught with some guys that were tired. I was tired too, but I saw Jamie [Benn] bump the puck to [Seguin],” Klingberg said. “I was just trying to find an open lane for Seguin to find me there, and he made a good saucer pass. It was pretty empty, and it was fun to see it go in."

Klingberg also had the primary assists on both Dallas goals in regulation, putting shots towards the goal that were redirected into the net – one by Spezza just as a power play was expiring and the other by Jamie Benn with Dallas on the power play.

"I'm happy about those goals because I think I can shoot even more because Benn is so good in front of the net,” Klingberg said. “Obviously, the second goal you could see he was tipping the puck there. We have a few options in our power play."

The one goal and two assists Saturday give Klingberg 20 points (4 goals, 16 assists) on the season. He is the top scoring defenseman in the league and is tied for fourth in scoring among all players.

“I'm happy about it. I'm a player that should put up those points,” Klingberg said. “I get to play those minutes on the power play, and there are lots of scoring opportunities. It's nice to see a few points, and we won tonight, so I'm happy about that. We've had a good start with the team, and we're scoring some goals. I'm happy about those players I'm playing with on the power play with [Patrick] Sharp, Benn and Seguin, pretty good players.”

Jamie Benn also had a three-point game, registering one goal and two assists. Kari Lehtonen stopped 22 of 24 shots to run his personal winning streak to five games.

The win was the second straight for the Stars and pushed their record to 14-4-0, the best 18-game start in franchise history. Their last two wins have come against Winnipeg and Minnesota, two key rivals in the ultra-competitive Central Division.

“We've got a lot of games left against our division, so we don't want to get ahead of ourselves. And we've lost to Colorado,” Spezza said. “We feel like that's the reason we missed the playoffs last year because we didn't win enough games in our division. It's no secret how good our division is, so we're going to have to win a lot of games and we'll just keep plugging along."

The Wild (10-3-3) had a three-game winning streak snapped. The Wild were 0-4 on the power play and gave up one power play goal and another just as a Stars power play was expiring.

“I’d liked to have won. I thought that you get on the road, obviously being minus-2 in the special teams is tough, but you get on the road, and we battled back to get a point there after being down,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said. “Could never grab the lead, which was I think something that would have helped us for sure in the game, but we got a point, which is OK. But certainly felt like we left some things out there that we could have done better.”

The two teams traded power plays in the first eight minutes, and the Stars cashed in on theirs to grab a 1-0 lead. Spezza tipped in a Klingberg shot from the point at the 7:41 mark.

Seguin made a nice play in the Stars crease, blocking a shot to keep Minnesota off the board early in the second. But the Wild tied the game at 5:15 of the second period when Nino Niederreiter tipped in a Jared Spurgeon shot from the point. The Stars challenged the goal, saying Lehtonen was interfered with on the play, but after a lengthy review the goal stood, and it was a 1-1 game.

The Stars took a 2-1 lead at 2:26 of the third period, scoring on the power play for the second time. Jamie Benn deflected a Klingberg shot past Dubnyk.

Minnesota bounced back to tie at the 7:15 mark when a Marco Scandella shot changed direction after hitting the skate of Stars defenseman Jordie Benn and got past Lehtonen to make it a 2-2 game. And it stayed that way until Klingberg struck in overtime.

It’s been an emotional two days for Antoine Roussel, a native of France whose parents were in Paris at the time of the terrorist attacks.

“Fortunately, nothing happened to them. I got a hold of them (Friday),” Roussel said.

Roussel wore a decal of the French flag on his helmet during Saturday night’s game. When asked about how hard it was to play Saturday, Roussel’s thoughts turned to those in Paris.

“It’s the same for everybody, I think. Not just for me. It’s not just about me. It’s about the people there,” Roussel said. “It just sucks. That kind of stuff, you never want that to happen to anybody, not even your worst enemy. It’s terrible. It’s painful.”

There was plenty of support for France Saturday night at American Airlines Center. There were some French flags, and some fans brought signs to show support for France and Roussel. Several of Roussel’s teammates put French flag decals on their sticks.

“They were committed to that, and I really appreciate that from them. It was huge,” Roussel said.

And in between warm-ups and the start of the game, the French national anthem was played at the American Airlines Center.

“That’s awesome,” Roussel said. “The Stars, that’s an organization that is really proud. That’s the kind of thing they do. They are proud of their players. They are a first-class organization.”

Stars coach Lindy Ruff juggled his lines during the game, moving Ales Hemsky up to the second line with Jason Spezza at center and Mattias Janmark on the left wing. Cody Eakin, who had been centering the second line, centered Antoine Roussel and Valeri Nichushkin. Radek Faksa, who had been skating with Roussel and Nichushkin, moved to a line with Vernon Fiddler and Colton Sceviour.

“I wanted to get Spezz back in the middle and get him skating a little bit more,” Ruff said. “After the first period, I think Ales only played a minute and something, and I wanted to get him more ice time. He’s been going pretty good and with all the power plays and penalty kills, I just decided after the first that I’d put him on the second power play unit and try to get him a little bit more time and play three lines a little bit.”

*The Stars are 2-0 in 3-on-3 overtime.

*Tyler Seguin had one assist and is tied for the NHL lead in scoring with 26 points (9 goals, 17 assists).

*Jamie Benn’s three points pushed him to 25 (12 goals, 13 assists). He ranks third in the NHL in scoring.

*John Klingberg’s three points give him 20 (4 goals, 16 assists). He leads NHL defensemen in scoring and is tied for fourth among all players.

*The Stars outshot the Wild 36-24.

*Patrick Sharp, Jamie Benn and Jason Spezza all had six shots on goal.

*The Stars were 1-4 on the power play and 4-4 on the penalty kill.

*The Stars won 33 of 63 faceoffs (52 percent).

*Cody Eakin won 10 of 17 faceoffs (59 percent). Tyler Seguin won 5 of 9 (55 percent). Jason Spezza won 6 of 12 (50 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 5 of 12 (42 percent).

*Jason Demers led the Stars with 26:09 of ice time.

The Stars hit the road for games at Buffalo (Tuesday) and Washington (Thursday).

Jamie Benn- Tyler SeguinPatrick Sharp

Mattias JanmarkCody EakinJason Spezza

Colton SceviourVernon FiddlerAles Hemsky

Antoine RousselRadek FaksaValeri Nichushkin

Alex Goligoski
John Klingberg

Johnny OduyaJason Demers

Jamie OleksiakJordie Benn

Kari Lehtonen

Antti Niemi

Patrick Eaves, Jyrki Jokipakka

Injured: Travis Moen (upper body), Curtis McKenzie (hip)

Conditioning: Patrik Nemeth

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 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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