The Dallas Stars have been one of the league’s best third-period teams this season, and they proved it again Saturday night in Minnesota. The Stars overcame a 3-0 third-period deficit to defeat the Wild, 4-3, in overtime at Xcel Energy Center.
Alex Goligoski, Jamie Benn and John Klingberg scored goals over a 9:37 span of the third to wipe out the Wild’s three-goal lead and get the game to overtime, where Tyler Seguin tallied the game-winner by backhanding a Benn pass into the net with 1:03 left in the extra period.
“We are finding ways to win and last year we were finding ways to lose,” Seguin said. “We really want to prove to ourselves that we are a great team, not just a good team. It starts with not losing two in a row and then following it up with another win.”
Adding to the luster of the win is that it was against a divisional foe, came on the second night of a back-to-back and happened in a building where the Stars hadn’t won since March 2012.
“It’s a great win,” Goligoski said.
The win was the second straight for the Stars, who improved to 19-5-0 on the season. Cody Eakin chipped in two assists, and Antti Niemi stopped 23 of 26 shots.
The Stars, who fell behind 3-0 in the second period, began to take the game over by the middle of the second. They outshot Minnesota 44-26 in the game, including 35-15 over the final two periods of regulation.
“We made some line changes. We had a few guys that didn’t have a lot of energy, so I went with the guys I thought were going best,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “We got down to three lines, got a little more aggressive in our play in the offensive zone and got our defense involved a lot more. I thought we played a heck of a 40 minutes.”
“There was no doubt that we were going to give it our all to try to come back in this game,” Benn said. “We set a goal to try to get a goal in the first five (minutes of the third period). We executed that and rolled with the momentum. It was a character win by everyone in this group.”
Goligoski provided that goal in the first five minutes of the third, tipping in a Jordie Benn shot at the 4:57 mark to make it a 3-1 game. The Stars cut the lead to 3-2 with a shorthanded goal. Eakin picked off a Mikael Granlund pass and set up Jamie Benn, who scored off the rush to make it 3-2 at 9:43 of the third. Klingberg tied the game at the 14:34 mark, sliding along the blue line to get an open shot and then beating Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper with a wrist shot.
In overtime, the Wild had the territorial advantage, but the Stars had some chances. Kuemper stopped Jamie Benn on a two-on-one and Patrick Sharp had a backhand shot hit the post. But Benn set up the game-winner, circling the net to pull Kuemper out of position and passing to Seguin, who backhanded the puck into the net.
The Wild fell to 1-4-2 in their past seven games and are 11-7-4 on the season.
"When you get the lead, you have to play smarter, not safer, and sometimes we tend to play safer," Wild forward Thomas Vanek said. "They just kept creating and scoring goals."
The Wild came out with a strong push in the first period and took a 2-0 lead. Vanek opened the scoring, putting a shot through traffic at 5:52 of the period. The Wild extended the lead when Stars forward Valeri Nichushkin turned over the puck off in the Minnesota zone, the Wild headed on an odd-man rush the other way and Vanek set up Charlie Coyle, who scored to give the Wild a two-goal lead at the 13:27 mark.
The Wild extended the lead to 3-0 early in the second. Just after a Dallas power play expired, Seguin mishandled the puck in the neutral zone, Granlund stole the puck and set up Jason Pominville, who scored off a blast from the top of the right circle at the 1:11 mark.
The Stars ended up with a 19-8 shots advantage in the second, but couldn’t get a puck past Kuemper, and the Wild took their 3-0 lead into the third.
But the Stars kept coming in the third, the shots started turning into goals, and that led to an impressive comeback victory.
*The Stars 19-5-0 (38 points) is the best 24-game start in franchise history.
*The Stars are 3-1-0 vs. the Central Division.
*The Stars are 2-0-0 in the second game of back-to-backs this season.
*The Stars are 4-0 in games that have gone beyond regulation, including 3-0 in 3-on-3 overtime and 1-0 in the shootout.
*The Stars have outscored the opposition 37-21 in third periods.
*Stars captain Jamie Benn extended his points streak to eight games (8 goals, 6 assists).
*Stars center Tyler Seguin extended his points streak to eight games (4 goals, 7 assists).
*The Stars outshot the Wild 44-26 and had a 71-47 advantage in attempted shots.
*Seguin led the Stars with 8 shots on goal and Jason Spezza led the Stars with 10 attempted shots.
*The Stars were 0-2 on the power play and 2-2 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars won 33 of 67 faceoffs (49 percent).
*Seguin won 7 of 10 faceoffs (70 percent). Cody Eakin won 10 of 18 (56 percent). Spezza won 8 of 16 (50 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 6 of 12 (50 percent).
*John Klingberg led the Stars with 26:01 of ice time.
*Stars forward Patrick Eaves played in his 500th NHL game.
The Stars continue their four-game road trip when they play at Calgary on Tuesday.
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Patrick Sharp
Mattias Janmark – Jason Spezza – Patrick Eaves
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Valeri Nichushkin
Colton Sceviour – Vernon Fiddler – Ales Hemsky
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
Johnny Oduya – Jason Demers
Patrik Nemeth – Jordie Benn
Injured: Kari Lehtonen (upper body)
Scratched: Travis Moen, Jyrki Jokipakka, Jamie Oleksiak
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 DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.