(The Sports Xchange) - For the Dallas Stars, the drama and the highs and lows, if they result in a playoff series win, are all part of the process.
Dallas built a big lead Sunday afternoon and needed all of it to clinch its first-round playoff series with the Minnesota Wild.
First-period goals by John Klingberg, Jason Spezza and Patrick Sharp gave Dallas a commanding lead and helped withstand a furious Minnesota comeback, as the Stars beat the Wild 5-4, winning their best-of-seven series 4-2 and advancing to the second round.
Goalie Kari Lehtonen had 25 saves while Jamie Benn and Alex Goligoski added later goals as the Stars advanced past Round 1 for the first time since 2008.
"You have to win a series, and we found a way to win it," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "I thought the Wild played one heck of a series. There wasn't any quit in them. They came hard with five guys when they were down, they got a little life in this building and they made it tough."
Minnesota got 19 saves from goalie Devan Dubnyk, a pair of goals from defense men Jared Spurgeon and single goals from Jonas Brodin and Jason Pominville, making a spirited late charge after trailing 4-0.
"It was fun. It was a blast. But we didn't get the job done," said Wild interim head coach John Torchetti, who faces an uncertain future. "We can't be happy walking away, that's for sure. We should be playing, and it makes it tough for the summer."
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Stars edge Wild to advance to second round
Chicago Blackhawks' Niklas Hjalmarsson skates out to center ice with the Stanley Cup during the championship banner raising ceremony before an NHL hockey game between the Blackhawks and the New York Rangers, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Los Angeles Kings goalie Jhonas Enroth, of Sweden, defects a shot during the third period of a preseason NHL hockey game against the Anaheim Ducks, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Chicago Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov, left, and Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler, right, battle for a loose puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game Monday, Oct. 26, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Washington Capitals right wing T.J. Oshie (77) hits Boston Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid (54) into the boards in the third period of an NHL preseason hockey game, Friday, Oct. 2, 2015, in Washington. The Capitals won 2-1 in a shootout. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Los Angeles Kings left wing Tanner Pearson, right, tries to score on Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015, in Los Angeles. The Kings won 3-1. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Tarek Sawan, right, and Alexandra Desbiens celebrate a goal by Montreal Canadiens left wing Max Pacioretty during the third period of the NHL Winter Classic hockey game against the Boston Bruins at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Friday, Jan. 1, 2016. The Canadiens won 5-1. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Chicago Blackhawks' Andrew Shaw (65) collides with Pittsburgh Penguins' Trevor Daley (6) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
New York Rangers' Jayson Megna (23) struggles to get back on the ice after being checked by New York Islanders' Calvin de Haan (not shown) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016, in New York. The Islanders won 3-1. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
New York Rangers center Oscar Lindberg (24), from Sweden, tries to hit the puck as Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov (92), from Russia, defends in the second period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand is dropped to the ice in front of Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer on a rough check during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Boston, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov, of Russia, is hit in the mask while trying to make a stop against the Winnipeg Jets in the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
New York Islanders right wing Cal Clutterbuck (15) goes flying after tripping over Edmonton Oilers defenseman Brandon Davidson (88) in the third period of an NHL hockey game in New York, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. The Islanders defeated the Oilers 8-1. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson (9) celebrates his goal with goalie Ben Bishop (30) during overtime of an NHL hockey game against the Nashville Predators, Friday, Feb. 12, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)
Carolina Hurricanes goalie Eddie Lack (31) makes a save during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the New York Islanders, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Raleigh, N.C. Lack had 9 saves in the 6-3 win after relieving an injured Cam Ward in the second period. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)
Boston Bruins' Landon Ferraro (29) and Dallas Stars' Jason Demers (4) fall to the ice while competing for the puck in the third period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Washington Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner, left, gets hit by a high stick from Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane during the third period of an NHL hockey game Sunday,Feb. 28, 2016, in Chicago. The Blackhawks won 3-2. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) pushes over the goal cage to force a stoppage of play after being shaken up in a collision with teammate Ryan McDonagh during the second period an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Thursday, March 3, 2016. The Penguins won 4-1. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Calgary Flames defenseman Dougie Hamilton (27) slides across the goal crease to knock away the puck as goaltender Jonas Hiller, right, defends during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres, Thursday, March 3, 2016, in Buffalo, N.Y. Buffalo won 6-3. (AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)
Detroit Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek (34) stops a Montreal Canadiens shot in the first period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, March 24, 2016 in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin, from Russia, keeps his eyes on the puck with St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko (91), also from Russia, nearby in the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 26, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Washington Capitals' Jay Beagle (83) cannot get a shot past Philadelphia Flyers' Steve Mason (35) as Shayne GostisbehereÂ (53) trails during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Wednesday, March 30, 2016, in Philadelphia. Philadelphia won 2-1 in a shootout. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand, top, goes airborne after slamming Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce (54) to the ice during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Boston, Tuesday, April 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Anaheim Ducks center Nate Thompson passes the puck during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Los Angeles Kings, Thursday, April 7, 2016, in Los Angeles. The Kings won 2-1. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
St. Louis Blues' Alexander Steen, right, and Washington Capitals' Nicklas Backstrom, of Sweden, become entangled along the boards during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 9, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22: Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks and Steven Kampfer #3 of the Florida Panthers watch for the puck next to goalie Roberto Luongo #1 in the first period of the NHL game at the United Center on October 22, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 23: Marek Zidlicky #28 of the New York Islanders and Zac Rinaldo #36 of the Boston Bruins collide along the boards during the third period at the Barclays Center on October 23, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Bruins defeated the Islanders 5-3. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 27: (L-R) Jamie Oleksiak #5 of the Dallas Stars and Chris Stewart #29 of the Anaheim Ducks fight in the first period at American Airlines Center on October 27, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - OCTOBER 28: Mike Brown #18 of the San Jose Sharks flips over Mattias Ekholm #14 of the Nashville Predators as he goes for the puck at SAP Center on October 28, 2015 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 06: Dominic Moore #28, Jarret Stoll #26, Keith Yandle #93 and Jesper Fast #19 of the New York Rangers pursue the puck against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on November 6, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 02: Michael Del Zotto #15 of the Philadelphia Flyers misses a check and crashes into the boards against the Montreal Canadiens during the third period at Wells Fargo Center on February 2, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 21: Matt Dumba #24 of the Minnesota Wild scores against goaltender Corey Crawford #50 of the Chicago Blackhawks in the first period of the 2016 Coors Light Stadium Series game at TCF Bank Stadium on February 21, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Wild defeated the Blackhawks 6-1. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 16: Corey Perry #10 of the Anaheim Ducks falls back onto the net as Antti Raanta #32 of the New York Rangers looks on from inside the net during the game on March 16, 2016 at Honda Center in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 27: Matt Bartkowski #44 of the Vancouver Canucks gets his helmet adjusted during their NHL game against the Chicago Blackhawks at Rogers Arena March 27, 2016 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 02: Keith Yandle #93 of the New York Rangers fals ove Johan Larsson #22 of the Buffalo Sabres during their game at Madison Square Garden on April 2, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Jan 21, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Vancouver Canucks left wing Daniel Sedin (22) dumps Boston Bruins right wing Brett Connolly (14) during the third period of the Vancouver Canucks 4-2 win over the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 29: Keith Kinkaid #1 of the New Jersey Devils makes the second period save against the Boston Bruins at the Prudential Center on March 29, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Back-to-back penalties against the Wild gave Dallas more than a minute of a 5-on-3 power play. Dubnyk made a pair of highlight-reel saves, but Klingberg finally got the Stars on the board with a slap shot from the left circle after a cross-ice pass from Spezza. It was Klingberg's first goal of the playoffs, but his name is familiar to the Wild. In the regular season, Klingberg had a pair of overtime-winning goals versus Minnesota.
The Stars went up 2-0 before the first period was half over when Dubnyk stopped, but couldn't cover, a shot from the blue line. While the goalie was looking for the loose puck, Mattias Janmark got it to Spezza at the left of the net, and Spezza's backhand shot doubled the Dallas lead.
It was 3-0 after a period thanks to a seeing-eye wrist shot by Sharp with less than two minutes left in the first. Coming in on a 2-on-1 break, Sharp let Jamie Benn break toward the net, then launched a rising shot headed for Dubnyk's blocker side. The goalie lunged at it a split second too late, giving Sharp his third goal of the playoffs.
Content to defend their commanding lead and play defense, the Stars had just five shots on Dubnyk in the second period, but the fifth one was significant. With less than 24 seconds to play in the period, Benn snapped off a wrist shot that fooled Dubnyk on the glove side, making it 4-0 and producing a notable round of boos from the Minnesota crowd.
"Very big power play goal to get us started and a 4-0 lead. What else can you ask for?" Sharp said. "A lot of things that you can take out of this that are good, a few things that are bad, but it's never easy to win a playoff series, especially against a tough team like Minnesota."
The Wild fans finally got a reason to cheer in the third period when Spurgeon scored a power-play goal, shoveling in the rebound of a Mikael Granlund shot that Lehtonen had stopped. Just 16 seconds later, Brodin scored on a backhander from low in the right circle after a shot by Erik Haula was blocked in front of the net, but went right to Brodin.
"The building got loud. Probably one of the most useless timeouts I've taken, because they couldn't hear a word I said anyway," Ruff said. "But I was just trying to tell them, 'Listen, we've got to play.' You've got to live that environment to get better at it."
When Spurgeon scored another power-play goal at the 8:39 mark, cutting the Dallas lead to 4-3, the crowd was deafening, but Gologoski dropped the decibel level considerably. His shot from the blue line hit Dubnyk and landed at the goalie's feet. Unaware that the puck was under him, Dubnyk dropped down and inadvertently knocked the puck into the net.
Pominville's goal came with less than five minutes to play, pulling Minnesota back within a goal. The Wild pulled Dubnyk for the final two minutes. A shot by Nino Niederreiter with 33.9 seconds left had the Wild thinking they had tied the game. A review showed the puck just on, but not over, the goal line before it was covered by a Dallas defenseman.
"It's a shame we didn't come out like that," said Wild center Charlie Coyle of the frantic third-period push. "Tough first couple goals put us behind. But for us to battle back like that, it was a good feeling. It was right there and we felt it. It comes down to inches there and we just couldn't get it."
The Stars, who were the top seed in the West, will host either Chicago or St. Louis to open Round 2.