The Dallas Stars’ playoff chances will get a big boost Wednesday night when LW Jamie Benn returns to the lineup for the first time in six games. Benn, out since suffering a left thigh laceration against Calgary on Feb. 16, skated on a line with Steve Ott and Adam Burish at Tuesday’s practice and declared himself fit to face the Penguins.
“It went well. I felt good out there. It was good to get back out there with the guys, skate around, have some fun and do some high-paced drills,” Benn said. “I feel ready to go.”
Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan doesn’t expect Benn to play his usual 20 minutes per night right away, but believes Dallas will receive a huge boost simply by having the All-Star back in the fold.
“You need your guys back,” Gulutzan said. “Benny has been a huge player for us all season and we’ve managed without him and now he has to come back in and it’s going to give us a big boost for sure.
“Whenever you get a chance to get arguably your best player back, you welcome it with open arms.”
Benn’s return coincides with the Stars in the midst of an unlikely playoff push. They looked dead halfway through February — Dallas went 4-5-3 to start the month — then rallied to win four straight without the services of their best player. They were tough wins, too, as the Stars went into Montreal (3-0) and Chicago (3-1) before returning home to defeat Minnesota (4-1) and Western Conference-leading Vancouver (3-2, in overtime).