After a tough loss on Thursday night at Nashville to kick off a three-game Central Division road trip, Dallas Stars head coach Lindy Ruff said he needed more contributions from his marquee players.
Well, captain Jamie Benn, top goal scorer Tyler Seguin and rookie sensation Valeri Nichushkin took Ruff’s words to heart, accounting for five of the Stars’ six goals in a 6-3 win at the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday afternoon.
Dallas broke open a 3-3 game late in the second period, converting twice on a five-minute power play that resulted from a brutal hit by the Jets’ Anthony Peluso on Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski late in the frame that sent "Goose" to the locker room for some medical attention.
The Stars then proceeded to score twice to lead 5-3 after 40 minutes, a good sign for captain Jamie Benn and his teammates.
"We said it before the game, special teams is going to make a difference. Our power play got a couple tonight and it made the difference," Benn said. "We didn’t really change anything. We just stuck with it and found a way to get a couple tonight."
Seeing the Stars capitalize on an extended power play was great to see, especially after Dallas failed to score during a seven-minute opportunity in last Saturday’s win over the Philadelphia Flyers at American Airlines Center, further compounding their power play woes on home ice.
Goligoski returned to the pond in the third period, a testament to what Ruff called the veteran d-man’s gutsy nature. But that hit from Peluso that will most assuredly result in a trip to the League office in New York City definitely didn’t sit well with the veteran head coach.
"I thought the Peluso hit was a joke. For a guy that plays that amount of time and runs a guy like Goligoski from behind, what does he (Peluso) play? Three or four minutes a game? And he’s got to run Goligoski from behind, go run one of our bigger guys," Ruff said.
"These are the hits we want to get rid of. There’s really no place for it. It was a hard-hitting game but we don’t have any room for that type of hit."
Luckily, Goligoski appeared to be no worse for wear from the brutal hit, for which Peluso was assessed a boarding major as well as a game misconduct. And with the Dallas rearguard already a bit thinned after losing both Trevor Daley and Stephane Robidas in recent weeks, losing No. 33 is simply something the Stars D can ill afford.
Now, Dallas heads to Colorado for a Monday night meeting with the Avalanche, who the Stars will also face on Tuesday at the AAC to finish out another back-to-back to finish off a stretch of four games in six days, all coming against fellow Central members.
"It’s very important (to win games like this)," Benn said. "They’re kind of four-point games. We know standings are pretty tight in the Central here. When you can get two points on the road, it’s pretty big."