Yes, the schedule helped the Stars win this one. Minnesota played in Pittsburgh on Saturday and didn't have the energy it needed in a 4-0 loss to the Stars Sunday.
That said, the Stars have found ways to mess up these situations in the past, and they didn't this time. They executed smartly and dissected the Wild to stretch the Dallas road winning streak to seven games. That ties the franchise record, set four times previously (most recently in 2001).
``We knew they played last night, and we wanted to jump on them, and it paid off for us,'' said defenseman Trevor Daley, who scored 2:33 into the game, when he drove the net and deflected in a perfect Brad Richards pass. ``I thought we did a good job of getting the jump and then maintained it all night.''
Daley had a goal and an assist and appears to really be dialing up his offensives forays up ice since signing that six-year contract extension. He has a goal and four assists in the last six games
``When the puck goes in the net, everybody sees it more, but it is something I've been working on,'' Daley said. ``I'm not where I want to be yet, but it is getting better.''
Daley said he feels it's the job of the defensemen to help the scoring _ something that wasn't happening earlier in the year.
``With the addition of Jamie (Langenbrunner), we have three lines that can score at any time, and it's our job to keep pucks in for those guys and keep plays alive and get numbers at the net. That's been the focus for the backline lately.''
Langenbrunner didn't score in his debut, but he had 10 shot chances _ three on goal, three that missed the net and four that were blocked. He was clearly noticeable.
``He's good on the wall, as you would expect. He makes good decisions with the puck. He's just a smart player who is going to help us a lot,'' Stars coach Marc Crawford said. ``He's so versatile. He can play with the checkers and score goals, as well. He will be a tremendously useful to the Dallas Stars.''
But it was the other Jamie who stole the show, as Jamie Benn rushed down the left wing in the final minute of the first period, twirled Minnesota defenseman Cam Barker around, and whipped in a perfect shot to give Dallas a 2-0 lead. It really was the play of the game and could be a candidate for prettiest goal of the year.
``I think we're just starting to see what he can do,'' said Benn's linemate Mike Ribeiro. ``He's done it at every other level, and we're seeing it here now.''
Benn has been a goal-scorer in juniors for Kelowna, and in the AHL playoffs, but we're just starting to see what kind of skill he has at the NHL level. With two goals on the day, he now has 11 on the season.
So mix Langenbrunner on the third line and keep up the scoring of the first and second lines (James Neal had a goal, while Brad Richards and Brenden Morrow each had two assists), and you've got something building here.
``I think we've all bought in,'' said goalie Andrew Raycroft, who had 26 saves for his ninth career shutout. ``It helps when you get success, that gives everybody confidence in what the coaches are saying, and I think we all truly believe right now. We have a lot of confidence in how we're playing as a team.''
Raycroft is 8-3-0 with a 2.03 GAA and a .934 save percentage. He missed five starts while backing up and jumped right back on the horse, looking great again.
``I can't say enough about Andrew Raycroft,'' said Crawford. ``He's been among the best back-ups in the league. The guys like him and want to play for him. It's a little factor, but I do think people wanting to play that extra bit harder does make a difference.''
So far, all the Stars seem to want to play for each other.
Now, can they do it at home on Tuesday? They host the Edmonton Oilers and want to break a vexing 0-3-2 slump at American Airlines Center.
``That's something we're going to address, and I think we need to bring a lot of the good things that we've been doing on the road,'' Crawford said.