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Stars rally to defeat Wild, 6-3

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Another trip to Minnesota, another come-from-behind win for the Dallas Stars. The Stars overcame an early 2-0 deficit to defeat the Wild, 6-3, at Xcel Energy Center Monday night.

It was the second time this season the Stars have rallied to win a game in Minnesota. On Nov. 28, they erased a 3-0 third-period deficit and won 4-3 in overtime. Tuesday night, they scored three goals in the final five minutes of the second period to turn a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 lead that they would extend to 4-2 early in the third period before sealing the win with a couple empty-net goals.

“We spotted them a couple but after that we played a really good second period, and I thought we would get rewarded for it,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff.

“They came at us physically [in the first period], and I thought we answered in the second,” said Stars center Vernon Fiddler. “We started getting some hits in going back at them. We got the momentum back going into the third.”

Fiddler scored two goals for the Stars. Tyler Seguin had one goal and one assist. Jordie Benn, Antoine Roussel and Cody Eakin also scored. Antti Niemi came up big in goal for the Stars, stopping 30 of 31 shots after taking over for Kari Lehtonen, who was pulled early after allowing two goals on four shots.

“I didn’t like the goals. Put it behind you and move on,” said Ruff. “We’ve got the luxury with Antti and Kari that if one is having a tough night, I’ll go with the other one.”

Monday’s game kicked off a stretch that will see the Stars (25-7-2) play five of their next six games against the Central Division. The Stars are now 4-2-0 within the division.

“It’s our next test,” said Ruff. “Five of six [against the Central] starts tonight, and we will see where we are.”

Minnesota (17-9-6) lost its second straight game and just for the second time in regulation over its past 11 games.

"We came out hard and it's nice jumping off to a 2-0 lead, especially against a team like that, and get rewarded right away,” Wild forward Charlie Coyle told the team’s official site. “But I think our sense of urgency kind of dropped, and we stopped going as hard for pucks, and winning those loose puck battles, and what we were doing before that was making us successful.”

The Wild chased Lehtonen with two goals on four shots in the first 8:16 of the game. Jared Spurgeon, who signed a four-year, $20.75 million contract extension earlier in the day, roofed a shot over Lehtonen’s shoulder from the right circle off the rush at the 4:57 mark to put the Wild up 1-0. Coyle scored on an odd-man rush, roofing a shot from the left circle at the 8:16 mark to make it 2-0.

The Wild maintained that 2-0 lead most of the second, but the Stars scored three times in the final five minutes of the period to take a 3-2 lead. Jordie Benn scored from the point at the 14:59 mark to make it a 2-1 game.

Niemi came up huge just moments later, stopping Mikael Granlund on a point-blank chance to keep it a 2-1 game.

Three minutes later it was a tie game. With Dallas on its second power play of the period, Alex Goligoski put a shot on net that Patrick Eaves tipped and then Fiddler deflected past Dubnyk, and it was 2-2 at 18:30 of the second period. It was the second straight game that the second power play unit had scored a goal.

“I am just supposed to win a faceoff and go to the net,” Fiddler said. “Patty made a great play with the tip there, and I was lucky enough that it went in off me. It was a little bit of a momentum boost for us.”

The Stars took the lead at the 19:29 mark when Spurgeon turned the puck over in front of his own net, and Patrick Sharp set up Seguin, who slipped the puck between Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk’s pads from close range to give the Stars a 3-2 lead heading into the third period.

Roussel scored at 3:41 of the third, grabbing the rebound of Johnny Oduya shot off traffic and scoring off a backhand shot. Minnesota’s Nino Niederreiter scored at 10:26 of the third to make it a 4-3 game, but the Wild couldn’t get the equalizer and Eakin and Fiddler sealed the win with empty-net goals to push the final to 6-3.

The Stars now head back home to take on Chicago Tuesday night at American Airlines Center.

When you’ve got a back-to-back and you’ve got to go home and play Chicago it is huge to get this one,” said Jordie Benn. “Hopefully, we can go in tomorrow and get a good 60-minute effort and we’ll be good.”

Jordie Benn gets kick out of Yukon Cornelius comparison, and then scores

The scoreboard operators at Xcel Energy Center had a little fun with Stars defenseman Jordie Benn Monday night, showing him side-by-side on the Jumbotron with Yukon Cornelius, a character from the 1960’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Christmas special.

Benn saw the comparison on the scoreboard and got a kick out of it.

“All the guys here want me to dress up as Cornelius for Halloween. It’s funny to me,” Benn said. “When they threw it up on the Jumbotron, I wanted to laugh, but we weren’t at home, so I kept it to myself. Yeah, it was funny. Everyone calls me that. It’s great.”

On his next shift, Benn scored to cut Minnesota’s lead to 2-1 and start the Stars’ rally to a 6-3 victory.

“Everyone was, ‘Way to stick it to them.’ Stick it to them? I thought it was funny,” Benn said. “Whoever put that up there is a pretty smart guy. I thought it was pretty funny.”

*The Stars are 4-2-0 vs. the Central Division, including 3-0-0 against Minnesota.

*The Stars are 12-3-2 on the road.

*The Stars have scored five goals or more in four of their past seven games.

*The Stars are 9-4-1 when the opposition scores first. Their .643 winning percentage in those games is tops in the NHL.

*The Stars are 16-0-1 when leading after two periods.

*The Wild outshot the Stars 35-34, and the Stars had a 58-55 advantage in attempted shots.

*Tyler Seguin led the Stars with six shots on goal and nine attempted shots.

*The Stars were 1-2 on the power play.

*The Stars were not shorthanded in the game. It’s the third time this season the Stars have not had to kill off an opposition power play in a game.

*The Stars won 33 of 67 faceoffs (49 percent).

*Tyler Seguin won 11 of 18 faceoffs (61 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 8 of 14 (57 percent). Cody Eakin won 8 of 15 (53 percent). Mattias Janmark won 1 of 7 (14 percent).

*Jason Demers led the Stars with 25:02 of ice time.

Patrick Sharp and Johnny Oduya face their former team as the Stars host the Chicago Blackhawks Tuesday night at American Airlines Center.

Jamie BennTyler SeguinPatrick Sharp

Mattias JanmarkJason SpezzaAles Hemsky

Antoine RousselCody EakinColton Sceviour

Valeri NichushkinVernon FiddlerPatrick Eaves

Alex Goligoski
John Klingberg

Johnny OduyaJason Demers

Jyrki JokipakkaJordie Benn

Kari Lehtonen

Antti Niemi

Jamie Oleksiak, Patrik Nemeth, Travis Moen

Injured: None

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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