By Will Martin
If you were one of the many fans able to come out early to the American Airlines Center last Thursday night and you chose to take a little walk toward section 113 (near one of the adjoining goals on ice) you had the opportunity to get your picture taken with a Gold or Bronze medal.
Medals just won in Sochi by Kari Lehtonen with Finland and Jamie Benn with Canada and Coach Lindy Ruff.
You also were able to take pictures of the Finnish and Canadian jerseys the aforementioned wore.
Like every other NHL team coming back from the Olympic break there is a question of whether or not the break is a blessing or a curse when winning and then stopping everything for almost three weeks.
Team Ruff wasted little time in answering that very query!
The opponent was the Carolina Hurricanes. To say the Stars have essentially blown away the team from NASCAR country one need only be told that not since February 11th, 1996 was the last time the Dallas Stars lost a game to this franchise. That was so long ago the Hurricanes were then known as the Hartford Whalers. Prior to this game Dallas was 9-0-1 in the last ten games with the Hurricanes.
Captain Jamie Benn would net assists 30 and 31 at 3:15 and 6:13 of the first period when Tyler Seguin would wrist his 25th goal past Anton (Woulda Been) Khudobin. Brendon Dillon made his 6th goal on a short-handed goal.
“I thought our team played great,” Benn said. “We came out in the first and I thought we took it to them. We got the first goal and we kept rolling from there.”
Credit Valeri Nichushkin with an assist in the first stanza-his 16th.
A 2-0 lead was all the Stars would need to improve to 28-21-10. Jamie Benn added another goal via the shorty at 18:35 of period two unassisted. That was the Captains 23rd goal of the quickly winding down season.
All that kept Kari Lehtonen from being perfect this night was a score from Erik Staal at 2:42 of the 3rd period with helpers from Jiri Tlusty (9) and Andrej Sekera (25).
Cody Eakin got his 13th goal of 2013-2014 with :56 ticks left in regulation for a 4-1 win. Shawn Horcoff (10) and Alex Goligoski (23) each collected assists.
Thursday’s game was interesting in that it featured two teams of brothers facing one another. Jordie and Jamie Benn with Erik and Jordan Staal. Thank goodness the Stars kept it in the family.
Upon completion of the game you could sense the urgency in Lindy Ruff’s voice when looking ahead to a matinee start time with the Tampa Bay Lightning. That and the benefit of making those shorties!
“On the whole I thought we skated well. We executed for the most part,” Ruff said. “I’d give our team an A-plus tonight, for their skating, their compete level and being able to get down in the trenches.”
Jamie Benn didn’t remember the last time Dallas had a two shorty game and a win. I have that answer. It was on my 46th birthday March 16th 2010 on an 8-2 blowout game over the San Jose Sharks. Not only was I there, but I had two hot dates with me. Melinda Martin and Sara Schlobom will attest. They are also as big on hockey as yours truly.