Stars rely on team effort to move within one win of advancing

Dallas received huge goals from top players Jamie Benn and John Klingberg, gritty efforts from role players like Jamie Oleksiak and Blake Comeau, and another win for backup goalie Anton Khudobin, who is getting first extended playoff time in his career at age 34.In between, Mattias Janmark made a huge block early that hobbled him, and then returned to make a huge assist on the game-winning goal; both Miro Heiskanen and Esa Lindell continued to eat up big minutes to help fill in for injured Stephen Johns; and Joe Pavelski continued to make smart, detailed plays showing his veteran experience.As a result, the Stars have won the past two games in the series and now hold a 3-2 lead with a chance to close things out on Thursday and move onto the second round. It was an affirming performance for a team that has struggled at times in the NHL’s Return to Play in the Edmonton bubble.”I think we enjoy whatever type of game is coming at us,” said Seguin. “We’ve got great structure and we’re really sound defensively, so if it’s 5-on-5 all night, we’re confident with that.”Video: Bowness on Stars’ effort in Game 5 win over FlamesAfter battling through special teams affairs earlier in the series, the two teams enjoyed more than 40 minutes of five-on-five play that stretched from late in the first period to near the end of the game. That made for some interesting back-and forth, as Dallas loaded up early on shots on goal and scoring chances, and Calgary roared back to put a ton of pressure on Khudobin in hopes of tying the game.But Khudobin was fantastic and the team defense was just good enough to hold on for the win.While the Stars at times continue to be a hard-scoring group, the two goals were beautiful. After a four-on-four situation expired midway through the first period, Seguin drove up the left wing and made a deft pass to Benn, who was charging the net. Benn and the puck arrived at the same time and Benn chipped in his second goal of the playoffs at the 10:13 mark.It was the second straight game Dallas scored first after giving up the first goal in six straight games to start the playoffs, and it was an impressive amount of focus and guts from Benn, who ran into the crossbar at full speed to pay for the goal.Seguin said it was an instinctive play.”I’ve been shooting a lot and I just tried to fake him out, and Jamie was going to the back post and it looks like the crossbar got the best of him,” Seguin said with a chuckle. “It was a big hit, but a big goal.”Video: CGY@DAL, Gm5: Benn crashes net for hard-earned SHGIt was a great sign for the top line of Seguin, Benn and Alexander Radulov. The trio had been reunited earlier in the playoffs, but didn’t spend any time together in training camp. Seguin, who has been battling an injury, had been in a point drought since the playoffs started. He now has three assists in the past two games. Benn and Radulov have tallied three goals and added three assists in the past four games.”That line, we expect big things from,” Stars coach Rick Bowness said. “Seggy is playing as hard as I’ve seen him play. He’s doing a lot things defensively. I have a ton of faith in him going to take those faceoffs and be responsible. He’s supporting the puck, he’s using his speed, he’s finishing his checks. He’s doing a lot of things to help this hockey team win.”Seguin is one of examples of the details the team has pushed all season. He had five hits and won seven-of-12 faceoffs on Tuesday, which is huge in a low-scoring game. Benn had six shots on goal. Klingberg was all over the place.Mattias Janmark took a shot off the ankle in the first period and had to hobble to the locker room. He then came back and assisted on the game-winning goal early in the third period. After Klingberg made a nice play to keep the puck in the zone, Janmark gained possession along the wall and curled into the slot. Taking a defender with him, Janmark slipped a pass out to Klingberg at the point and Klingberg whistled in a shot.It was a perfect display of patience, detail work from a role player and a big play from a big player.”Janmark did a great job on his backhand, holding onto it, and finding me on the weak side,” Klingberg said. “That’s something we talk about a lot as a team – if we can get more O zone, and that’s exactly what you have to do get O-zone. He took control of the puck, had a guy on his back, and still made a play so I could just walk down and wrist that shot through.”Video: CGY@DAL, Gm5: Janmark sets up Klingberg for leadThe fact that he was on the ice was also pretty impressive after the blocked shot earlier in the game.”I’ll tell you what, he blocked that shot and it hurt. But if you want to win in the playoffs, you’ve got to pay the price, and Janny paid the price,” said Bowness. “That sparked the whole bench when we saw him dive in front of that shot. Janny has been very, very good, and that shot block shows you how committed he is to winning.”It was just a microcosm of the team effort of the game, the team effort of the season. It was a display of how the Stars see themselves as a team.They weren’t perfect, they made mistakes, and yet they also made a lot of smart plays that helped them win. Now they are one win away from moving onto the second round – something that might not have seemed likely when they started the NHL’s Return to Play.They say they will carry all of that history when they get to Game 6 on Thursday.”The toughest game to win is that knockout win, that fourth win,” Bowness said. “That’s the best game they’ve played against us this series, so give them credit. We’re going to see that kind of game for 60 minutes on Thursday.”This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika, and listen to his podcast.
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