DALLAS — Whatever Lindy Ruff said to his Stars after the first intermission Wednesday night should be nominated for motivational speech of the year.
The Ducks were without Ryan Getlaf, the NHL’s second leading scorer this season. The Ducks were without Teemu Selanne, the 15th all-time leading scorer in NHL history.
And the Stars responded to this golden opportunity to tie the series with a lethargic first period Wednesday night that all but silenced a sellout crowd of 18,962. The Ducks outshot the Stars, 11-7, and outscored them, 2-0.
Enter Ruff — and Jamie Benn.
I’m not sure what Ruff said during the intermission but it certainly had an impact on Benn. He scored a goal just 27 seconds into the second period with a brilliant one-man effort to ignite the Stars and their crowd.
That triggered a frantic second period that tied the game for the Stars and they would win it in the third period, 4-2, sending the series back to Anaheim dead even two games apiece.
These moments have been building for Benn. He was named to his first NHL All-Star game in 2012 and captain of the Stars in 2013. Everyone knew he could play, but no one knew if he could play in the clutch. In his three NHL seasons, Benn never had the opportunity to perform in the playoffs.
The big stage awaited.
But first, there was an even bigger stage – the 2013 winter Olympics. Benn earned a spot on the Canadian team and wound up as one of its stars, scoring two game-winning goals for the gold-medalists.
Jamie Benn has proven himself to be special all along.
Now in his Stanley Cup debut, Benn continues to be just that with four goals in four games. But his goal in the opening seconds of the second period was a play the great ones make — the type of play the Stanley Cup Stars would have anticipated and expected from Mike Modano.
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