The Dallas Stars felt their play was trending in the right direction the past couple games and Thursday night it produced results. The Stars snapped a three-game losing streak with a 6-2 win over the St. Louis Blues at American Airlines Center.
"We built off the effort the last few games and got rewarded for how we played," said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. "Our goal was just to get back to .500 and start over again. We're there, and we'll have a couple of bodies coming back in the near future, and that will help us. We've got to win games when you can win them."
The Stars, who had scored just six goals over the past five games, cashed in on their chances Thursday, scoring three times five-on-five, once on the power play, once four-on-four and once into an empty St. Louis net.
"In the past week, we really focused in practice on getting pucks to the net, getting bodies to the net," said defenseman Stephen Johns. "I think when you have that drive, that determination, and keep throwing pucks, good things are going to happen."
Tyler Seguin led the offensive charge with four assists and Jamie Benn chipped in with three assists. John Klingberg scored two goals, and Patrick Eaves, Johns, Jason Spezza, and Jordie Benn also scored. Antti Niemi was sharp in goal, stopping 28 of 30 shots.
"It was everyone doing their jobs and trusting each other," Seguin said. "It was a full team effort, and it was nice to get results.
Video: Seguin, Benn lift Stars to big 6-2 victory
The game was physical. There were two fights and some scrums. The Stars dished out 28 hits, led by Johns who had seven on the night.
"They are a physical team," Johns said. "Every time you suit up to play against them you know you are going to get hit. You have to prepare for that and go back at them. It's fun to play in those types of games."
The Stars improved to 4-4-2 on the season as they kick off a key stretch against Central Division opponents.
"We're trying to figure it out, and we're going in the right direction," Seguin said. "Tonight, we looked at it as a big test against a division rival, great team. We've got even a bigger test this weekend with a back-to-back with Chicago."
The Blues lost for the fourth time in the past five games and fell to 5-4-2 on the season. They've been outscored 11-2 in their past two games and 16-5 over their past five.
"I think this is a tough time for us right now. We're not playing very well," said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock. "We're not all on board where we should be, and it's a tough time for us right now. We're going to have to build some momentum back with better play and more committed play. It's a frustrating time for everybody right now, frustrating because we're not scoring and we're not keeping it out of our net the last two games."
After a scoreless first period with few chances, the second period produced some offense. The Stars struck first when Seguin put a shot on goal from the right circle, and Eaves tipped it past Blues goaltender Jake Allen to put Dallas up 1-0 at the 6:35 mark.
Both teams scored during two minutes of four-on-four play. The Blues tied the game at the 11:26 mark off the rush. During a scramble in front of Niemi, Paul Stastny roofed a backhand shot to make it a 1-1 game.
But the Stars took a 2-1 lead 31 seconds later. Jamie Benn drove the net, was stopped by Allen, got the puck back and set up a trailing Klingberg, who scored from the right circle at 11:57 of the second. It was the first goal of the season for Klingberg.
"It was kind of like a relief," Klingberg said. "There have been a couple of chances, and it was nice to see it finally go in there."
Niemi came up big late in the period, stopping a Stastny bid from the slot with 31 seconds left in the second to keep the Stars up by one goal.
The Stars extended the lead to 3-1 early in the third period. Just seven seconds after a Dallas power play ended, Seguin set up Johns, who scored off a one-timer from the bottom of the left circle at the 3:40 mark.
"It was a great pass by Seggy," Johns said. "When one of the best players in the world has the puck on his stick you try to get open, and he's going to find you."
The Stars made it 4-1 with a power play goal less than two minutes later. Seguin put a shot on net and Spezza backhanded the rebound past Allen at 5:36 of the third period.
The Blues thought they had cut into the lead with an Alex Steen goal at the 6:36 mark, but the Stars challenged the goal saying Patrik Berglund interfered with Niemi. After a video review, the goal was waved off, and the Stars maintained their three-goal lead. The Blues did cut into the lead on a goal by Alex Pietrangelo, who took a pass from Stastny and scored from the bottom of the right circle at the 10:27 mark.
But the Stars tacked on two more goals. Klingberg backhanded the puck into an empty net from 140 feet to put the Stars up 5-2 at the 16:30 mark. Jordie Benn scored from the left point with Allen back in the net 17 seconds later to make it 6-2 and that's how it ended.
"Everyone contributed," said Johns. "Any time you get a big win against a team like that it's a big confidence boost for this locker room."
*Tyler Seguin's four-assist night matched his career high.
*The Blues outshot the Stars 30-27 and had a 60-51 edge in shot attempts.
*Seguin and John Klingberg led the Stars with four shots on goal. Seguin and Klingberg led the Stars with six shot attempts.
*Jamie Benn was a plus-4 in the game. Seguin was a plus-3.
*The Stars were 1-4 on the power play and 3-3 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars had 28 hits in the game. Stephen Johns had 7, and Curtis McKenzie had 6.
*Antoine Roussel and Curtis McKenzie both picked up fighting majors in the game. Roussel fought Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. McKenzie dropped the gloves with Blues defenseman Joel Edmundson.
*The Stars won 40 of 70 faceoffs (57 percent).
*Jamie Benn won 9 of 11 faceoffs (82 percent). Radek Faksa won 10 of 16 (63 percent). Tyler Seguin won 7 of 14 (50 percent). Jason Spezza won 7 of 15 (47 percent).
*John Klingberg led the Stars with 21:26 of ice time.
*Jiri Hudler missed Thursday's game due to illness. Stars coach Lindy Ruff said the team was waiting for test results on Hudler.
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Patrick Eaves
Antoine Roussel - Radek Faksa - Jason Spezza
Lauri Korpikoski - Devin Shore - Brett Ritchie
Curtis McKenzie - Gemel Smith - Adam Cracknell
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Johnny Oduya - Stephen Johns
Dan Hamhuis - Jordie Benn
Scratched: Patrik Nemeth, Jamie Oleksiak
Injured: Jiri Hudler (illness), Patrick Sharp (concussion-like symptoms), Cody Eakin (knee), Mattias Janmark (knee), Ales Hemsky (hip)
Watch: Postgame Quotes
Stephen Johns: "Obviously, anytime you get a big win against a good team like that, it is a big confidence boost for this locker room."
Lindy Ruff: "I think we built off the effort of the last two games. We got rewarded for how we played and we got a few bounces, which was nice."
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.