By Stephen Hunt, The Sports Xchange
DALLAS — Thanks to seven combined assists from Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, the Dallas Stars atoned for a Game 7 loss in the playoffs last May with a 6-2 win against the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night at American Airlines Center.
The Blues had eliminated the Stars in Game 7 of the second round of the playoffs on May 11 in Dallas with a 6-1 win.
“Our goal was just get back to .500, and let’s start over again,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “We’re there. We’ll have a couple bodies coming back in the near future and that will help us.”
Dallas (4-4-2), which snapped a three-game winless streak, got two goals from John Klingberg and one each from Patrick Eaves, Stephen Johns, Jason Spezza and Jordie Benn. Seguin had four assists, tying a career-high, and Benn added three helpers. Antti Niemi stopped 28 of 30 shots.
Seguin also had four assists in a 6-5 overtime loss to Philadelphia in Dallas on Oct. 18, 2014.
“Probably their best game of the year,” Ruff said of Benn and Seguin. “Our best players were at the forefront tonight, which was great to see.”
Paul Stastny and Alex Pietrangelo each had a goal and an assist for St. Louis (5-4-2), who lost its second straight game. The Blues have been outscored 11-2 in those losses.
“I think this is a tough time for us right now,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We’re not playing very well. We’re not all on board where we should be. It’s a frustrating time for everybody right now, frustrating because we’re not scoring and we’re not keeping it out of our net the last two games.”
Eaves scored 6:35 into the second period on a deflection. Seguin’s wrist shot from the right circle first struck Eaves in the midsection before the puck deflected a second time off the right arm of Blues goaltender Jake Allen, who stopped 21 of 26 shots.
St. Louis briefly tied it at 1-1 when Stastny scored 11:26 into the second period during a 4-on-4. A rolling puck deflected off Spezza’s skate and, after Niemi made a pad save, Stastny knocked in the carom at the far post with a backhand.
Dallas regained the lead 31 seconds later when Klingberg scored on a wrist shot from the right circle at 11:57 of the second. Allen denied Jamie Benn on a breakaway seconds earlier, but Benn collected the puck and sent a pass across the crease to Klingberg, who one-timed a wrist shot that beat Allen far post to make it 2-1.
Johns made it a 3-1 contest 3:40 into the third period when he one-timed a slap shot from the left circle for his second goal of the season.
“It was a great pass by (Seguin), obviously,” Johns said. “When one of the best players in the world has the puck on his stick, you try and get open, and he’s going to find you.”
Spezza then made it a three-goal game 5:36 into the third when a Seguin pass deflected off his leg and then off Jay Bouwmeester’s skate to make it 4-1 with Dallas on a 4-on-3 power play.
Hitchcock used his coach’s challenge on the Spezza goal, asserting that Allen had been interfered with. However, following a short official review, the goal was deemed valid.
St. Louis had apparently answered when Alexander Steen scored what would have been the 200th of his career from the left circle at 8:22 of the third period. However, after Ruff used his coach’s challenge on the grounds that Patrik Berglund interfered with Niemi, the goal was overturned.
The Blues cut it to 4-2 when Pietrangelo scored from the edge of the right circle at 10:27 of the third period.
Klingberg added an empty-net goal with 3:30 remaining when he flipped a backhand the length of the ice for his second of the game. Jordie Benn then scored on a slap shot 17 seconds later to make it 6-2.
Both teams return to the ice Saturday with St. Louis hosting Columbus and Dallas facing Chicago.