By Stephen Hunt, The Sports Xchange
DALLAS — Of late, overtime games have been an exercise of futility for the Dallas Stars. But thanks to captain Jamie Benn, those struggles are over.
Benn scored the winning goal 1:23 into overtime as the Stars edged the Minnesota Wild 3-2 on Monday night at American Airlines Center.
Benn beat Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper, who stopped 29 of 32 shots, with a wrist shot from the left circle, snapping Dallas’ overtime losing streak at nine.
“It felt good. I’m not going to lie,” Benn said. “It was nice to finally win one in overtime.”
Dallas, which finished its four game homestand 2-1-1, last won in overtime on Feb. 15 at Nashville. The Stars (8-7-5) last won an overtime game at home on Nov. 14, 2015, against Minnesota.
Jamie Oleksiak and Brett Ritchie also scored for Dallas, now 1-5 in overtime this season. Antti Niemi stopped 27 of 29 shots for the Stars.
“I thought just our execution was better (in overtime), hanging on to the puck,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “I think we threw one away that I’d really like to hold onto that almost sent them two-on-one. But I thought we did a good job getting back to make that a tougher play for them, which made up for the play.”
Nino Niederreiter and Erik Haula scored for the Wild (9-7-2).
“Well, I thought we did fight back twice, something we haven’t done a lot of,” Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I thought we got better as the game went on. It’s a hard-earned point in here. The points are going to be very valuable to come by.”
Dallas broke through 7:19 into the second period when Oleksiak scored off a rebound to make it 1-0. Oleksiak’s second career goal capped a Stars flurry that started with Kuemper denying a backhand shot from Jason Spezza.
Oleksiak’s only other goal also came in Dallas, on Oct. 28, 2014, 55 games ago. Five of Oleksiak’s 13 career points have come against the Wild.
“I saw a lot of bodies and I was just whacking away,” Oleksiak said. “I think that was my first career backhand goal. It was nice to get that one and contribute.”
Patrick Eaves picked up an assist, putting his point streak at six games.
Minnesota answered late in the second when Niederreiter scored a power-play goal to make it 1-1 after 40 minutes. His fifth goal of the season was an easy tap-in at the far post off a pass from Mikael Granlund.
“It’s always big to score a power play goal,” Niederreiter said. “In this league, we know how important it is to get power play goals. The (penalty kill) has been doing a really good job. We have to make sure we pick it up on the power play.”
The Wild were 55 seconds into a power play resulting from a cross-checking call on Jordie Benn.
Dallas regained its lead 1:01 into the third period when Ritchie scored his fifth goal of the season. Julius Honka, the Stars’ top pick in the 2014 NHL Draft who was making his debut, rifled a pass toward the far post, where Ritchie was stationed for the easy tap-in.
“It felt good, really good,” Honka said of his debut. “It was an honor to play with these guys.”
However, the Stars’ lead lasted exactly three minutes as the Wild pulled even at 2 when Haula scored off the rebound. Jason Pominville hit both goalposts earlier in the sequence, but Haula was in the right place at the right time to net the equalizer.
“I’m sure (Pominville) was shaking his head a little bit after the two posts,” Haula said. “It was nice to put it in. I’m sure it probably would’ve went in from Nino (Niederreiter). It was good to get that. We got scored on earlier, so it was good to get that back.”