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Stars rally for point, stay on top in Central

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars wrapped up a big weekend by picking up a big point, rallying from two goals down in the third period to force overtime, before falling to the St. Louis Blues, 5-4, at American Airlines Center Saturday night.

"The boys played a hell of a hockey game,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “It's been a hell of a weekend for us, getting three out of four (points) and how hard they competed.”

Saturday’s game finished off a weekend that saw the Stars pick up three of a possible four points in games against Chicago and St. Louis, the two teams they are battling for the top spot in the Central Division and Western Conference. The Stars defeated Chicago, 5-2, Friday night.

“I think it tells us what we think -- we’re a good team. We play well, and we can compete with everyone,” said Stars center Jason Spezza, who scored two goals. “Sometimes it is nice to have tests like this against two great teams coming in. It makes you up your game a little more as a group, and I thought we did that.”

The one point in the game kept the Stars in first place in the Central Division and Western Conference. Both the Stars and Blues have identical 41-20-9 records, but the Stars hold a 39-36 advantage in the regulation/overtime wins (ROW) tiebreaker.

“It shows good mental resolve to stick with it and tie the game up late,” said Spezza. “It’s definitely a big point but we would have liked to win the game in overtime.”

The Stars, who trailed 4-2 going into the third period, cut the lead to 4-3 early in the third on a Spezza goal. They tied the game with 1:12 remaining on a Jamie Benn power-play goal with the Dallas net empty.

But in the extra period, Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo scored from the slot at the 2:11 mark to give the Blues their sixth straight win and their eleventh in the past 14 games (11-3-0). The Blues’ last three wins have come against Chicago, Anaheim and Dallas.

“It’s been a big three games for us,” said Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who scored two goals. “We had a tough one against Chicago and then the game against Anaheim last night was a battle. We could just keep pace with these guys during the year; Dallas has done a great job of setting the pace, and they’ve been a team that we’ve been chasing all year, we’ve just been doing a good job of staying with it. We’ve had a lot of injuries. We’ve been playing down guys but we’re hanging in there, so it’s been a lot of fun to be at this point in the season.”

The Stars outshot the Blues 18-10 in the first period, but it was a 1-1 game after 20 minutes. Blues goaltender Jake Allen was sharp, coming up with big saves on a point-blank shot by Antoine Roussel, a shorthanded breakaway by Jamie Benn and a close-range bid by Jason Spezza in the final minute. St. Louis grabbed a 1-0 lead when Troy Brouwer scored off the rebound of his shot on an odd-man rush at the 8:47 mark. The Stars drew even at 11:06 of the first when Benn set up Cody Eakin, who roofed a shot over Allen to tie the game 1-1.

St. Louis took a 2-1 lead at the 1:37 mark when Vladimir Tarasenko scored from close range on Stars goaltender Antti Niemi off the rush with the two sides playing four-on-four. The Stars answered 61 seconds later, just as their first power play expired when Tyler Seguin put a shot on net and Spezza tapped in the loose puck to make it a 2-2 game.

The Blues regained the lead, scoring their second four-on-four goal of the night to go ahead 3-2. Shattenkirk grabbed a rebound off traffic in front of Niemi and then scored on a wrap-around at the 10:19 mark. Shattenkirk then struck again with 45.1 seconds left in the second to make it 4-2, scoring off a blast from the right point that deflected in off Stars defenseman Stephen Johns.

But the Stars rallied in the third to tie. Ales Hemsky set up Spezza, who scored from the left circle at the 6:02 mark to make it a 4-3 game. The Stars penalty kill came up big late in the third, thwarting a St. Louis power play to keep it a one-goal game. Thirty seconds later, Benn drew a penalty and Ruff pulled Niemi for the extra attacker. Seguin put a shot on net from the left point that Benn deflected past Allen to tie the game with 1:12 remaining and get it to overtime, where Pietrangelo won it for St. Louis.

“Down to a good defensive team like that, that’s a good point,” said Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski. “I’d like to get the other one. After the second period, we came in here and it just kind of felt like a game we were going to get back in. We stuck to it and got one late. It’s good.”

*The Stars are 6-7 in three-on-three overtime this season.

*The Stars are 15-7-3 vs. the Central Division.

*The Blues are 16-7-3 vs. the Central Division.

*Jason Spezza has scored a goal in six straight games and now has 10 goals in the past 10 games.

*The Stars were 4-4 on the penalty kill Saturday and are 17-17 on the PK over the past five games.

*The Stars were 1-3 on the power play and are 10-33 (30.3 percent) on the PP over the past 10 games.

*The Stars outshot the Blues 38-36 and St. Louis had a 72-54 advantage in attempted shots.

*Jason Spezza led the Stars with 7 shots on goal and 8 shot attempts.

*The Stars won 27 of 64 faceoffs (42 percent).

*Jason Spezza won 7 of 14 faceoffs (50 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 4 of 6 (67 percent). Radek Faksa won 7 of 19 (37 percent). Cody Eakin won 6 of 18 (33 percent).

*Alex Goligoski led the Stars with 27:09 of ice time. Kris Russell was next with 26:34.

*Injured Dallas players John Klingberg (lower body), Patrick Sharp (lower body) and Jordie Benn (lower body) all skated Saturday morning. Stars coach Lindy Ruff said two of the three could be available to play Tuesday.

Jamie BennCody EakinPatrick Eaves

Valeri NichushkinJason SpezzaTyler Seguin

Antoine RousselRadek FaksaAles Hemsky

Travis MoenVernon FiddlerBrett Ritchie

Kris Russell
Alex Goligoski

Johnny OduyaStephen Johns

Patrik NemethJamie Oleksiak

Antti Niemi

Kari Lehtonen

John Klingberg (lower body), Patrick Sharp (lower body), Jordie Benn (lower body), Jason Demers (shoulder)

Scratched: Mattias Janmark, Colton Sceviour

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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