Recap: Stars Hold On in Winnipeg 5-3
The Stars traveled to Winnipeg and beat the Jets 5-3 on Tuesday night.
The Dallas Stars got a home-and-home with the Winnipeg Jets started on the right foot, winning 5-3 at the MTS Centre.
The Jets' Captain, Andrew Ladd, was likely playing his last home game and the fans showed their appreciation for him all night.
Dallas came into the game one point behind the Chicago Blackhawks for first in the Central Division, and one point ahead of the St. Louis Blues. It was always going to be a closely contested stretch run, and every point will matter.
The first period started off slow, with Jason Spezza and Radek Faska testing Andrej Pavelec early in the first period. Antti Niemi made a great save on Tyler Myers, but the shot count was suppressed in the early minutes of the first.
All of that changed when the Stars went on the power play and Jason Spezza scored on a broken play. Pavelec was scrambling and lost sight of the puck, but it was a good goal as Spezza had to roof it over a pseudo-goaltender in Dustin Byfuglien. On the ensuing face off from center ice, Patrick Sharp was convicted of tripping.
Dallas went right back on the kill and the results were more of the same. The most exciting sequence came from Antoine Roussel as he collected a puck that bounced off the referee and tested Pavelec. The penalty kill looked sharp, but it is difficult to ascertain whether it was proficiency by Dallas or the ineptitude of the Jets power play.
Literally nothing else happened the rest of the period, and the final shot count was 11-7 in favor of the Stars.
The second began with back to back meat-grinder shifts by Dallas, but they were unable to cash in. Not 2 minutes later, the Jets got the equalizer from Burmistrov. Klingberg lost his stick and was unable to contain Burmistrov as he bulled his way to the front of the net, knocking down a shot attempt, and scooping it home on the backhand.
Burmistrov nearly scored again on a changeup from the point that hit about 12 people before drifting in on a sprawling Niemi.
The top line of Seguin, Benn, and Spezza lost a draw in the offensive zone, and Blake Wheeler was off the races one on one against Johnny Oduya. Wheeler undressed Oduya and clanged a shot off the elbow. He had beaten Niemi cleanly, the Stars were fortunate.
Valeri Nichushkin was able to capitalize on the good fortune of the pipes. A great forecheck by Nuke and Hemsky saw a loose puck gathered about 8 feet from Pavelec. Nichushkin made no mistake, finally elevating the puck and tucking it in the top corner. The relief on Nichushkin's face was palpable.
The Jets hit their second post of the period, this time it was Byfuglien. As a general rule in the period, Dallas dominated possession. But when the Jets got a shot, there was a pretty good chance it was a dangerous one. The game opened up a little in the second, with teams trading chances in transition. It was hard to miss Blake Wheeler on the ice, he seemed to create something dangerous every other shift.
Dallas managed to give up two odd-man rushes when they were on the power play. The last one proved fatal when Dustin Byfuglien threw an alley-oop to Andrew Ladd. It was, mechanically, one of the worst power plays I have ever seen. The Dallas finally got possession in the offensive zone with about 15 seconds left in the power play. Somehow, the constant stalling in the neutral zone still produced two odd-man rushes. It was ugly, and the Jets were finally able to beat Niemi and the post in the period.
The goal saw the ice tilt to the right, and the Jets dominated the remainder of the period. The Stars were counting their blessings not to be down at the end of the frame. Shots were 8-6 Dallas in the period, but that doesn't tell the whole story. It was wide open hockey, and the Jets were gaining confidence by the minute.
The final frame started with the game tied at 2. Patrick Sharp quickly got sent to the box for his second minor of the game, and Jordie Benn made it a 5 on 3 for 45 seconds. Dallas managed to kill off both penalties, with Niemi coming up big on a couple of occasions.
Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin nearly scored with about 12 minutes left in the game, but Pavelec scrambled to make the saves. Radek Faska collected a rebound a couple of shifts later, but he was behind the net and unable to get the puck in the net. Shortly after the Faska chance, the Stars drew a penalty. It would have been a great time for another power play goal, but the Jets killed it off.
Shortly after a rush by Seguin, Colton Sceviour broke the tie with one of the strangest goals this year. Sceviour collected a wide shot and leaned into a shot into the open net. The puck catapulted out of the net and with no signal from the officials, the players continued their shift. A minute later the horn sounded and Toronto awarded the goal to Sceviour and the Stars.
Spezza, Seguin, and Benn looked in the mood for most of the period, but were not able to cash in on multiple chances in transition. All of that changed on the fifth Dallas power play of the night when Jamie Benn cashed in on a Patrick Sharp rebound.
Winnipeg pulled Pavelec with three minutes remaining down by 2 goals. After some great cycle work, Mark Scheifele scored on a rebound. The last 2 minutes were a flurry of activity, inciting cardiac arrest for Stars' fans.
With one flick of his wrists, Jamie Benn lobbed a mortar shell into the open net. 5-3. Thanks for playing.
Jamie Benn started off the third period with an ill-advised pass attempt on a rush. After that mistake, the Captain was dominant the rest of the way potting 2 goals. He put the team on his shoulders and the team managed to win a game they may have lost a year ago.
The game was perhaps harder than it should have been, but points are points in the MDK division. The Stars are back in first place in the division, and it feels lovely.