Dallas Stars head coach Lindy Ruff said he needed more from his leaders after a string of demoralizing losses.
Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn stepped up to the challenge.
Seguin scored the go-ahead goal on a power play in the third period and Benn had a spirited fight as Dallas snapped a three-game slide with a 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.
“The guys did a great job responding,” said Seguin. “Our compete level was a lot higher, just our will.
“We were missing it the last few games.”
With both teams fading in the Western Conference playoff race, the Stars came into Rogers Arena having been outscored 17-4 in their last three games, including a 5-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks and a 7-1 demolition at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers.
“It’s no secret we were embarrassed by the last two games and the season in general,” said Dallas centre Jason Spezza, who had two assists.
Ales Hemsky, Esa Lindell and Radek Faksa had the other goals for the Stars (28-32-10). Kari Lehtonen made 26 saves, while John Klingberg also added two assists.
Sven Baertschi and Ben Hutton replied for the Canucks (28-33-9). Ryan Miller stopped 32 shots in his 12th start in the last 13 games for Vancouver, which finished winless on its five-game homestand (0-3-2).
Seguin snapped a 2-2 tie at 9:07 of the third on the Stars’ only power play, blasting a one-timer past Miller for his 24th of the season after Dallas zipped the puck around the Canucks’ zone.
Faksa then took advantage of a turnover by Troy Stecher to bury his 11th past a helpless Miller at 15:31 as the Stars improved to 12-0-1 in their last 13 games against Vancouver.
“It’s frustrating,” said Hutton. “We want to win, especially here in our home rink in front of our fans. One mistake here, one mistake there and it’s two points for the other team and not us.”
Dallas led 2-1 in the second period when Canucks defenceman Nikita Tryamkin laid a solid hit on Benn, who went after the hulking six-foot-seven, 265-pound Russian. Both players went to their respective locker-rooms after the dust up, but the six-foot-two, 210-pound Benn didn’t return for the third because of an upper-body injury.
It wasn’t clear if the injury to Benn, who will be re-evaluated Friday, happened during the fight or earlier in the game.
“I like it,” Ruff said of seeing his captain and second-leading scorer drop the gloves. “It sends a message to the team that the fight is still on. You’ve got to win games and play hard.
“It starts with the leaders of the team ... that’s a pretty big dude he fought, so it was a heck of a battle.”
Hutton then tied the score on the power play to snap a 1-for-33 stretch on the man advantage with 0.3 seconds left in the period, but the Canucks were unable to build any moment from there.
Dallas grabbed a 1-0 lead at 8:41 of the first when Hemsky, who has missed 59 games this season with hip and groin injuries, swooped past Hutton and beat an indecisive Miller to a loose puck to score his first goal since March 24, 2016.
Vancouver responded when Reid Boucher, playing in his 100th NHL game, fed a slick pass to a pinching Tryamkin. The big defenceman had both his initial shot and rebound chance stopped by Lehtonen before the puck popped into the slot to Baertschi, who bagged his 17th at 13:27.
The Stars nudged back in front with 7.2 seconds left in the period when Lindell scored his sixth on a wrist shot that beat Miller from well out.
“I probably wasn’t as sharp as I’d like to be early — made a couple poor decisions — but after that I thought we were playing pretty well in the second,” said the 36-year-old Miller, who started his fifth straight game. “I was able to settle down a bit. It just got away from us towards the end.”
Notes: Dallas is 13 points back of the St. Louis Blues for the second wild-card spot in the West, while Vancouver is 14 points adrift. ... The Stars are 6-0-1 in their last seven games at Rogers Arena dating back to the 2012-13 season.Report Typo/Error