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Resilient Stars rally again, down Canucks in OT

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars struggled with adversity at times last season. They seem to be thriving on it so far this season. For the second straight game the Stars dug themselves a hole, climbed out of it and secured two points.

On Thursday, they overcame a 3-1 deficit and downed the Vancouver Canucks, 4-3, in overtime at American Airlines Center. That win came on the heels of Tuesday’s 4-3 win over Anaheim when they rallied from a 3-0 deficit.

“What’s really good to see is the fact that we had a tough time with adversity last year. This year, we’re learning to battle through some tough situations and come up with some big wins,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff.

Jamie Benn scored 2:28 into 3-on-3 overtime for the Stars, tallying off a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle.

“I saw Seggy (Tyler Seguin) locked and loaded. They were paying more attention to him than me, so I just let a shot go,” Benn said. “I was fortunate enough that it went in.”

Benn’s goal gave the Stars their seventh win in their last eight games and pushed their record to 8-2-0 on the season. But it didn’t’ come easy. The Stars were outshot 26-8 from about midway in the first period through midway in the third as the Canucks built their 3-1 lead.

"They're a good skating team,” Ruff said of the Canucks. “They made a lot of good plays tonight. I'll give Willie [Desjardins, Canucks coach] a lot of credit. He had them playing the right way; they had us under a lot of duress."

But Stars defenseman Jason Demers scored from the point with 9:54 left in regulation to make it a 3-2 game and then Stars forward Patrick Sharp scored his second goal of the night, deflecting in a John Klingberg shot to tie the game with 4:35 remaining to get the Stars to overtime.

“It’s a good thing that we believe in each other and can [come back], but I don’t want to make this a habit or a routine,” Benn said. “We want to be going into the third periods with leads and locking down those games.”

The Stars got a 29-save effort from goaltender Antti Niemi, who came up with some big stops including one on a Radim Vrbata breakaway with 2:11 left in regulation that kept it a 3-3 game.

“Every night I think we’re going to point to a couple of big saves,” Ruff said. “There’s an opportunity every night when you’re goaltender can give you those big saves to go out and get one for him and I thought our guys did again.”

The Canucks lost for the first time this season on the road (3-0-1) and fell to 4-2-4 overall.

“It’s always a concern when you lose in the third, but they got a couple breaks. Then we got a couple breaks too, but they got it going,” Desjardins said. “They’re a good team; they’re going to create. They’re one of the best offensive teams in the league, so it’s not like they’re going to go through the third without chances.”

The Stars had a 10-0 shots advantage eleven minutes into the game, but they turned over the puck just as their second power play expired and Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski slashed Vancouver forward Alex Burrows as he broke in alone on net. Burrows was awarded a penalty shot and beat Niemi five-hole to put the Canucks up 1-0 at the 11:52 mark.

The Stars drew even at the 15:05 mark when Sharp beat Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller with a shot from just beyond the top of the right faceoff circle.

The Canucks got the only goal of the second period when Alex Edler scored on the power play, tallying off a shot from the left point at the 5:38 mark. The Canucks extended their lead to 3-1 just ten seconds into the third period when Vrbata knocked home the rebound of a Daniel Sedin shot.

But the resilient Stars shook off what could have been a deflating goal and scored the next three for another comeback victory.

“They scored on the first shift, but we had the wherewithal to stick with it,” Stars center Jason Spezza said. “That’s a good sign.”

“One thing we are learning is that we are never out of a game,” Sharp said. “We’ve got some firepower in there, we’ve got some speed and we are well-conditioned. So, we are going to play great right to the end. That is what happened tonight.”

The Stars played their first overtime under the new 3-on-3 overtime format. Stars coach Lindy Ruff used three combinations during the period, which lasted 2:28.

Jamie BennTyler SeguinJohn Klingberg

Patrick SharpCody EakinJason Demers

Ales HemskyJason SpezzaAlex Goligoski

Ruff added that he was about to use Mattias Janmark and Valeri Nichushkin, but Benn scored to end the game.

Here were some quotes from the Stars about 3-on-3 overtime.

Patrick Sharp:

“This was our first taste of it when points are on the line, and it's exciting. I turned the puck over in the offensive zone corner, and it was a scoring chance right away. Once you get going back and forth, it's fire wagon hockey. Maybe I'd be saying something different if we lost.”

Jamie Benn:

"It's definitely different out there. If you make one mistake, you're on the backcheck and playing defense. I guess it went well for our first try. ... It's fun. It's creative. I'm sure you're going to see a lot of nice goals and a lot of big saves. Just hope you're on the winning side of it."

Lindy Ruff:

“There is going to be a lot more scoring opportunities. We’ve talked a lot about it, as a team, on how we want to prevent them. If you get a chance, there’s a good chance you’re going to give up a chance. If you’re pressing with two guys, you’re going to be chasing guys down the ice. From all the 3-on-3 that I’ve watched, it’s been one chance going one way and one chance going the other. The part we’re trying to be really good at is, once they get in our zone, we don’t want to give up an opportunity like [Jamie] Benn got.”

*Jamie Benn had one goal and one assist Thursday. He now leads the NHL in points (17) and goals (9).

*Patrick Sharp has scored three goals in the past two games.

*John Klingberg registered an assist in the game, extending his points streak to six games (two goals, five assists).

*The penalty shot goal scored by Alexandre Burrows was the first scored in the NHL this season.

*The Canucks outshot the Stars 32-29.

*Sharp led the Stars with six shots on goal.

*The Stars were 0-3 on the power play and 1-2 on the penalty kill.

*The Stars won 34 of 58 faceoffs (59 percent).

*Vernon Fiddler won 8 of 11 faceoffs (73 percent). Cody Eakin won 7 of 11 (64 percent). Tyler Seguin won 8 of 13 (62 percent). Jason Spezza won 8 of 16 (50 percent).

*Jason Demers led the Stars in ice time with 23:41.

The Stars wrap-up their four-game homestand when they host the San Jose Sharks Saturday afternoon.

Jamie BennCody EakinTyler Seguin

Valeri NichushkinJason SpezzaPatrick Sharp

Antoine RousselVernon FiddlerColton Sceviour

Mattias JanmarkRadek FaksaAles Hemsky

Alex Goligoski
John Klingberg

Johnny OduyaJason Demers

Jyrki JokipakkaJordie Benn

Antti Niemi

Kari Lehtonen

Patrik Nemeth, Jamie Oleksiak

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

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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