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Benn Scores Two, Leads Stars To Overtime Win Over Lightning

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Jamie Benn was shades of Sochi Benn tonight.

Tampa Bay Lightning v Dallas Stars Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Dallas Stars returned from the break with an overtime win against one of the top teams in the league. Though they earned two points, they also sustained some injuries to the forward corps, relied on Ben Bishop to have a big game (again), and looked very rusty on the man advantage en route to the win.

But at this point in the season, two points is two points. And with the standings as tight as they are, the Stars will take them and run.

FIRST PERIOD

For the first half of the period, Dallas pretty much dominated the metrics. They were skating well, they were relentless in puck battles, and they built up a 7-2 shots on goal lead. They drew the game’s first two penalties as a result of their skating, with both infractions being trips against Dallas.

Unfortunately, the positive kind of ended there for the Stars for the first frame.

They lost Roope Hintz to an upper-body injury early on in the game, causing the forward lines to be jumbled nearly from the drop of the puck. Just when you think health could be trending in the positive way for Dallas, the game reminds you that it rarely lasts having a full roster of 23 perfectly healthy players, especially this time of year.

As the period went on, the Lightning got their legs under them. When that happened, Dallas spent a lot of time hemmed into their own zone. By the end of it all, the Stars finished the period being outshot 11-9 while holding a 2-1 advantage in power plays. That’s not a good look, especially when the team spent the entirety of a full man advantage trying to find a zone entry. Granted, some of that is a result of playing against the fourth-best penalty kill in the league.

But a lot of it looked self-inflicted, too. The last half of the first period was nearly unwatchable from a fan perspective, though it may have been a little more exasperatedby the fact that the team had that long of a break in which they weren’t allowed to practice as a unit.

Both Ben Bishop and Andrei Vaselivskiy would come up with big saves, when called upon, in that period. Ending scoreless, Tampa held an 11-9 shots on goal advantage, and a 6-5 advantage in quality scoring chances, as per Owen Newkirk:

SECOND PERIOD

The power play may have continued to be terrible in the second period, but the even strength play was actually quite good for Dallas for the last half of the game, starting in this period:

Of course the Lightning would open the scoring as the Stars turned the tide of the game. That’s peak Starsing this season. It was a goal that came off a point shot by Nikita Kucherov which deflected by Bishop off of Steven Stamkos by the barest of movements. Dallas did a good job keeping things to the perimeter, but sometimes even those get by goaltenders because of the traffic created in front of the net.

Luckily, Dallas started to capitalize on their breakaway chances near the end of the period thanks to rookie offensive threat Denis Gurianov:

THIRD PERIOD

Andrew Cogliano did not start the game on the bench, and Dallas found themselves down two forwards. On a normal day, that can be tough for a bench to overcome. But after not playing hockey in over a week, that can prove to be very difficult indeed with guys still trying to find their legs.

However, Dallas seemed to roll with it as the game progressed. They remained committed to their team-defense strategies and did a fairly good job forcing some turnovers in the neutral zone. They continued to keep things to the perimeter. If anything, the extended ice time for a lot of forwards had the added bonus of keeping their legs going.

They were rewarded for that hard work when Jamie Benn got a breakaway against Vasilevskiy when Blake Comeau saw him uncovered in the back of the neutral zone. He pulled his patented delay and drag to backhand shot move, and was able to put it past the Lightning goaltender to put Dallas ahead.

Yet again, Dallas found a way to come back in a game. It’s a bit of an annoying habit if you’re a Stars fan that just wants to see the team dominate a game from start to finish. But let’s take a moment to recognize the positive in it: the Stars are finding ways to win in those situations. That means that, for the most part (and of course, there will be notable exceptions), the team is never really out of games all that much either.

It looked as though Dallas was going to ride that 2-1 lead into the proverbial sunset. With Vasilevskiy pulled, the puck came in front of Bishop. He saw a chance to take a shot at the empty net, realized it wasn’t going to be a clean chance as lanes closed, and then he tried to move the puck to the side at the last minute.

The result was a Victor Hedman gloved puck down to keep Dallas pinned into their own zone. With tired players on the ice for an extended shift, it didn’t take long for Steven Stamkos to tie the game up. That’s nearly inevitable with the talent that team has on their roster, especially when they get to add one to the ice against you.

OVERTIME

Once again, interim head coach Rick Bowness chose to start the game with a defensive-oriented trio. He put out Blake Comeau, Radek Faksa, and Esa Lindell against Tampa’s Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov, and Victor Hedman. Dallas was able to keep the trio from registering any kind of shot on goal. As they worked the puck into the neutral zone and made a change to more offensive-oriented trio, the Lightning were caught without being able to make a change and Dallas pushed the puck into the offensive zone.

That’s where it would stay. Seguin was stonewalled again on a breakaway chance by Vasilevskiy, Dickinson was stopped. When it looked like the Stars were about to turn the puck over in the offensive zone, Benn was able to make the physical play and keep the puck in the zone. He then had the patience needed to get Vasilevskiy out of position and deposit the puck behind him once again, sealing the comeback win for the Stars in the process.

Of course, it’s absolutely frustrating that this team had a regulation win in their grasp. With a first period that wasn’t great, a power play that was absolutely abysmal, a second period in which they dominated the opposition, and an evenly played third period, maybe that’s exactly how the game should have ended.

Other Thoughts....

*Very nice highlight reel and welcome for Stephen Johns during the first stoppage in play tonight. Johns looked a little sheepish on the jumbotron as the crowd roared for him.

*It cannot be overstated how poorly that power play execution was tonight. Don’t burn that part of the film work — watch it repeatedly and learn how not to do it like that before every game for the rest of the season.

*Both Hintz (upper body) and Cogliano (lower body) were designated as “day-to-day” by Bowness after the game.