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Jamie Benn Returns to Form; Cristopher Nilstorp Stumbles, Then Recovers in 3-2 Shootout Win

Jamie Benn plays an excellent game, scoring a power play goal and a shootout goal to lead the Stars to a shootout victory over the Florida Panthers.

Ronald Martinez

[Editor's Note: Due to the fact that Wednesday night's game was not broadcast and none of the DBD crew members were able to be at the American Airlines Center, we've invited a regular commenter to post his in-person observation's of the game against the Panthers.]

The overwhelming majority of Wednesday's game between the Florida Panthers and the Dallas Stars was largely uneventful. As a matter of fact, all of the scoring took place in 44 seconds, with the Stars scoring both of their goals within 30 seconds of each other in the second period and the Panthers returning the favor by scoring two of their own 14 seconds apart to tie the game late in the third.

Jamie Benn was definitely the best player in the game. His power play goal in the second period was a thing of beauty as he fired a quick wrist shot from the right faceoff circle past Jakob Markstrom. Earlier in that frame, he skated across the blue line and did a spin-o-rama past Dmitry Kulikov that forced Kulikov to hook him to prevent him from scoring on Markstrom. To cap off his good night, he beat Jakob Markstrom five-hole with a wrist shot to give the Stars a 2-0 edge in the shootout.

Kari Lehtonen made his first start of the preseason, stopping all ten shots he faced in 31:15 of action before the Stars substituted him for Cristopher Nilstorp. Lehtonen looked sharp and did not have to make any spectacular saves to keep the Stars in the game.

For 14 seconds, Nilstorp completely lost it. Drew Shore scored the first Panthers goal, beating Nilstorp five-hole with a wrist shot from the right faceoff dot. The second goal was a combination of sloppy play by the Stars in front of Nilstorp and a shot by Scottie Upshall that caught Nilstorp by surprise as he was late reacting to a shot high above his right shoulder. He collected himself, though, stopping the rest of the shots he faced, including both shots in the shootout. to help the Stars win.

A few more notable bullet-point observations:

  • Cody Eakin played a very good game. Eakin opened the scoring with a goal from the slot after receiving a nice feed from Ray Whitney in the left faceoff circle. Valeri Nichushkin, Eakin and Ray Whitney formed a pretty solid second line tonight and wreaked all kinds of havoc in Florida's zone.
  • The power play cashed in for the second straight game, scoring once on five chances on Benn's goal. While the Stars did not score more on the power play, they controlled the puck for the majority of the man advantage in the offensive zone and generated multiple scoring chances.
  • Speaking of special teams, the penalty kill was 3-3. Florida did not get many decent chances to score, and the Stars almost scored a shorthanded goal, but Erik Cole's pass didn't get through to Jamie Benn near the crease.
  • While Valeri Nichushkin didn't score two goals tonight, he forced turnovers, threw his body around and helped generate numerous scoring chances for the Stars.
  • Jamie Oleksiak fought Florida's Garrett Wilson late in the third period. Both players removed their helmets during the fight and earned two minute minors in addition to their fighting majors. Seven minutes for fighting ought to reduce fighting in the future.
  • On the Panthers second goal, Scott Glennie was injured in a collision near the net and did not return.
  • The new Stars road white jerseys look awesome, arguably better than the home greens.
  • Panthers rookie center Aleksander Barkov did not make any game-breaking plays tonight. Perhaps if he plays on a line with Jonathan Huberdeau, he will make a much bigger impact. This might be something to watch in Friday's game in San Antonio.