Benn, Stars exit COVID protocols with 6-5 win over Panthers

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DALLAS (AP) — Dallas captain Jamie Benn had a goal and an assist two days after coming out of COVID-19 protocols, and the Stars beat the Florida Panthers 6-5 in a shootout Thursday night in their first game in 2 1/2 weeks because of virus issues throughout the team.

Joe Pavelski and Jason Robertson scored on the only two shots in the shootout for the Stars while Braden Holtby stopped both Florida shots to end the game.

The Panthers left their net empty and had an extra skater on the ice when Jonathan Huberdeau scored with 29 seconds left in regulation to force overtime.

Stars defenseman John Klingberg, who had two assists and a goal-saving play, had one final shot that was kicked away by goalie Sergei Bobrovsky with a second left in the five-minute overtime period.

Benn was the last of 11 Stars players who had spent time in COVID-19 protocols since their last game Dec. 20. They had six games postponed before finally playing for the first time in 17 days.

Florida had won its previous four games, all at home, while scoring 24 goals in that span.

Benn put Dallas up 5-4 with 13:34 left after Bobrovsky came out of the net to play a puck. But Denis Gurianov picked it off and skated behind the net, drawing the recovering goalie to his right before passing to Benn for a shot from the other side.

Aleksander Barkov had the first two Panthers goals, including the captain’s short-handed score in the opening seconds of the second period to make it 2-1.

The Stars tied it again on that power play, carried over from the end of first period, when Benn took a shot and the puck squirted under Bobrovsky's legs before Gurianov knocked it into the net.

Five different Stars scored, like the 7-4 win over Minnesota in their previous game when all the goals were scored by different players.

Holtby stopped 37 shots. Bobrovsky had 31 saves.

The Stars scored twice in 28 seconds to go ahead for the first time in the second period. Robertson extended his NHL-best active home scoring streak to nine games with his 11th goal of the season before Tyler Seguin swiped a short backhander while falling down to make it 4-3.

The Panthers tied it at 4 on defenseman Mackenzie Weegar’s shot from the right circle through traffic with 2:43 left in the second period.

Klingberg kept the Stars from falling behind 2-0, then got them even at 1-1 in the span of about a half-minute in the first period.

The puck slid along the front and ricocheted off the left post on a backhander by Joe Thornton, in his 1,700th NHL game over 24 seasons. The puck was still in the crease behind Holtby before Klingberg swiped it away.

After a faceoff on the other end, Klingberg took a shot from the blue line and was credited with an assist after the puck went off the stick of Michael Raffl.

UP NEXT

Florida: At Carolina on Saturday.

Dallas: Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins visit the Stars on Saturday for the first time since Oct. 26, 2019. Pittsburgh has won 10 straight.

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More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Stephen Hawkins, The Associated Press

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