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Stars top Jets to end three-game skid

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Special teams came up big for the Dallas Stars as they snapped a three-game losing streak with a 5-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets Tuesday night at MTS Center in the first game of a home-and-home set between the two teams.

“We are going to see them again [Thursday in Dallas] so they wanted to make a statement, and that’s what we wanted to do, too,” said Stars defenseman John Klingberg. “It was a fun game to play. We are happy with the win.”

The Stars scored twice on the power play, and the penalty kill came up with a big stop, thwarting a Jets five-on-three chance early in the third period with the game still tied.

The win pushed the Stars (38-17-6) back into first place in the Central Division and Western Conference, one point ahead of Chicago with one game in hand.

“We want to win the division and have home advantage in the playoffs,” said Klingberg. “It’s a tough stretch here, a lot of important games for us and we want to play as well as possible. There is some stuff we need to be better at going into the playoffs.”

The game had an intriguing moment in the third when the horn sounded in the middle of the action, stopping play so on-ice officials could be notified that Colton Sceviour had scored a goal about 30 seconds earlier. Stars coach Lindy Ruff hadn’t seen play stopped like that, but he thinks it is the way to go in that situation.

“I think it’s the right thing to do. If somebody has recognized it’s a goal, because I’ve seen where you’ve played for four or five minutes and then you’ve got to go all the way back,” Ruff said. “So, I think the right thing is that if somebody knows it’s a goal, stop play immediately and have it be a goal. It’s going to be a goal anyways, so why keep playing.”

Jamie Benn scored two goals for the Stars. Jason Spezza, Valeri Nichushkin and Sceviour also scored. Klingberg registered three assists. Antti Niemi got the start in goal and stopped 22 of 25 shots.

The Jets (25-30-4) lost their fourth straight game (0-3-1). They are 12 points out of a playoff spot with 23 games remaining on their schedule.

“As a team, our confidence is low right now,” said Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec. “It’s about winning and losing. Sometimes we’re playing good, but we can’t win the game, sometimes we’re close, but close is not enough. But we’re still in the race, there’s going to be another game. We’re going to go to Dallas on the road, so we need the points.”

Both teams had two chances with the power play in the first period, and the Stars scored on their first one to score the only goal of the first 20 minutes. A Tyler Seguin pass attempt rebounded to Spezza, who put the puck into the open side of the net from the right circle at the 7:15 mark.

The Jets came out with a good push early in the second and tied the game at the 3:28 mark when Alexander Burmistrov backhanded home the rebound of a Drew Stafford shot. The Stars regained the lead a little less than five minutes later with a goal from Nichushkin, who forced a turnover along the boards and then moments later scored from the bottom of the left circle to put the Stars up 2-1 at 8:14 of the second.

The Stars had a chance to extend the lead with their third power play of the night late in the second, but the Stars gave up two quality shorthanded chances and Jets captain Andrew Ladd scored on the second one. Ladd took a centering pass from Dustin Byfuglien and tallied from close range to make it a 2-2 game at 16:14 of the second.

The Stars penalty kill came up big early in the third, killing off back-to-back power plays for the Jets including 45 seconds of a five-on-three advantage.

“Probably the biggest part of the game was when we had to kill the five-on-three for a little bit,” Ruff said. “Our killers did a pretty good job.”

The Stars grabbed a 3-2 lead with 7:31 remaining when Sceviour scored from the right circle, but it took about 30 seconds for the goal to be awarded. Sceviour’s shot hit the camera inside the net and bounced out quickly. Played continued for a while before the horn sounded to stop play. The goal was then awarded.

“I wasn’t sure [if it went in]. When it came out so fast – there was no sound with the crossbar – I didn’t know what it hit. Fortunately, it was in,” Sceviour said. “I’ve never seen something like that (play being stopped) before. I just thought the horn went off by accident, some minor thing where it goes off. I had no idea what was going on…We came to the bench, and they were telling us that it went in.”

Benn extended the lead to 4-2 with a power-play goal. After a Klingberg shot rebounded off the end boards, Benn put it into the net from close range with 5:52 remaining.

The Jets pulled Pavelec for the extra attacker and were able to pull to within one when Mark Scheifele got to a loose puck and scored from the top of the crease to make it 4-3 with 2:06 remaining. Ladd came close to tying it seconds later, but his attempt off the rush hit the post. Benn sealed the win by scoring into an empty net with 15 seconds remaining.

*Stars forward Patrick Eaves missed Tuesday’s game due to illness. Coach Lindy Ruff said Eaves could be out for a week to ten days.

“He's pretty sick,” Ruff said.

*Travis Moen missed his sixth game with a lower-body injury but is close to returning.

*The Stars are 14-5-2 vs. the Central Division.

*The Stars outshot the Jets 27-25 but the Jets had a 62-49 advantage in attempted shots.

*Jamie Benn led the Stars with 6 shots on goal and 7 shot attempts.

*Benn’s two goals give him 32 for the season. He ranks third in the NHL in goal scoring.

*John Klingberg three assists give him 51 points (10 goals, 41 assists) for the season. He ranks second among NHL defensemen in scoring.

*The Stars were 2-5 on the power play and 4-4 on the penalty kill.

*The Stars gave up their 10th shorthanded goal. Only Arizona (11) has allowed more.

*The Stars blocked 22 shots. Jordie Benn was tops with five blocked shots.

*The Stars won 29 of 62 faceoffs (47 percent).

*Vernon Fiddler won 5 of 7 faceoffs (71 percent). Jason Spezza won 4 of 7 (57 percent). Tyler Seguin won 7 of 13 (54 percent). Cody Eakin won 6 of 15 (50 percent. Mattias Janmark won 3 of 8 (38 percent). Radek Faksa won 3 of 9 (33 percent).

*Alex Goligoski led the Stars with 22:28 of ice time.

The Stars play the Jets in the second game of the home-and-home set Thursday in Dallas. That game kicks off a three-game homestand for the Stars who will face the New York Rangers (Saturday) and Detroit Red Wings (Monday) as well.

Jamie BennTyler SeguinJason Spezza

Antoine RousselCody EakinPatrick Sharp

Valeri NichushkinMattias JanmarkAles Hemsky

Vernon FiddlerRadek FaksaColton Sceviour

Alex Goligoski
John Klingberg

Johnny OduyaJason Demers

Patrik NemethJordie Benn

Antti Niemi

Kari Lehtonen

Patrick Eaves (illness), Travis Moen (lower body)

Scratched: 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 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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