Whatever Lindy Ruff said to his Stars after the first intermission Wednesday night can now be nominated for motivational speech of the year.

The Ducks were without Ryan Getzlaf, the NHL’s second-leading scorer this season. The Ducks were without Teemu Selanne, the 15th all-time leading scorer in NHL history.

And the Stars responded to this golden opportunity to tie the series with a lethargic first period that all but silenced a sellout crowd of 18,962. The Ducks outshot the Stars 11-7 and outscored them 2-0.
Enter Ruff — and Jamie Benn.

I’m not sure what Ruff said during the intermission, but it certainly had an impact on Benn. He scored a goal just 27 seconds into the second period with a brilliant one-man effort to ignite the Stars and reignite their crowd.

That triggered a frantic second period that tied the game for the Stars, and they would go on two win it in the third period, 4-2, sending the series back to Anaheim dead even at two games apiece. Give an assist to Ruff.

“He told us we were getting outworked and we had to play harder,” recalled Stars forward Ryan Garbutt. “He has a voice that carries and he made his point. That’s what makes him one of the best coaches in the league.”

These moments have been building for Benn. He was named an NHL All-Star for the first time in 2012 and captain of the Stars in 2013. Everyone knew he could play — but he remained an unproven commodity in the money games. In his three NHL seasons, Benn never had the opportunity to perform in the playoffs.

The big stage awaited.

But first, there was an even bigger stage: the 2014 Winter Olympics. Benn earned a spot on the Canadian team and wound up as one of its stars, scoring two game-winning goals for the gold medalists.

Jamie Benn has proved himself to be special all along.

Now in his Stanley Cup debut, Benn continues to be just that with three goals in four games. But his goal in the opening seconds of the second period was a play the great ones make — the type of play the Stanley Cup Stars would have expected from Mike Modano.

With a faceoff outside the Anaheim blue line along the left wing boards, Benn lost the draw but did not concede the puck. Anaheim center Mathieu Perreault backhanded the faceoff through his legs, but Benn stepped around him, corralled the puck, split Anaheim’s defense and fired a rising wrist shot from 43 feet out over the right shoulder of a seemingly surprised Frederick Andersen.