Thanks to a couple of newcomers, the Dallas Stars are off to an unexpectedly fast start.
The Stars, who've missed the playoffs in each of the past three seasons, improved to 4-1-0 when Sheldon Souray and Michael Ryder scored in the third period to give Dallas a 4-2 victory against the winless Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night.
Souray, acquired from Edmonton this summer after the Oilers kept him in the AHL all last season, blasted a rocket from the left point behind Steve Mason at 1:36 of the third period to break a 1-1 tie.
"He was screened on that. He didn't see it," Jackets coach Scott Arniel said.
Souray, owner of one of the NHL's hardest slap shots, is dangerous enough without a screen.
"He bombs it," Stars captain Brenden Morrow said. "They're coming in pretty hot. I don't like standing in front of them, but I know they don't either."
Ryder, signed by Dallas as a free agent after winning a Cup with Boston last season, converted a goalmouth pass from Morrow with 6:08 for a power-play goal to provide some insurance.
The victory gave the Stars a 4-0 home record as they head out on their first extended trip of the season. Columbus (0-4-1) is still looking for its first win. Mason made 29 saves for Blue Jackets, who were outshot 33-15.
"Today shows our players that we have the ability to play a certain way and if we play that way, we're going to put ourselves in a position to have success every night," Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan said. "We took a little step towards that."
Arniel is still looking for answers after the Jackets failed to win for the fifth time.
"It was an ugly game," he said. "The first 10 minutes was not bad, but after that wasn't good. When you lose a game like that, there's no positives."
The Blue Jackets opened the scoring with their first power-play goal in 21 tries this season when Vinny Prospal tipped Fedor Tyutin's shot from the top of the left circle past Kari Lehtonen 6:46 into the game. The Stars got even at 11:25 when Morrow one-timed a pass by Mike Ribeiro past Mason. It was the first of three assists for Ribeiro.
Columbus made it 2-1 at 1:13 of the second on Alexandre Giroux's first goal of the season. Giroux, who was recalled from the minors on Thursday, took a pass from R.J. Umberger, beat two defenders and fired a short shot past Lehtonen.
"We gave up three backdoor goals," Arniel said. "Usually that happens once every 15 games."
The teams meet again in Columbus on Tuesday.
"We have to dig deeper," Jackets captain Rick Nash said. "We're a desperate team right now."
|PPG - Vinny Prospal (3) ASST: Fedor Tyutin (1), David Savard (1)|
1 - 0 CBJ
|Brenden Morrow (2) ASST: Mike Ribeiro (3), Michael Ryder (1)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Alexandre Giroux (1) ASST: R.J. Umberger (1)|
2 - 1 CBJ
|Loui Eriksson (3) ASST: Steve Ott (3), Jamie Benn (2)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Sheldon Souray (1) ASST: Mike Ribeiro (4)|
3 - 2 DAL
|PPG - Michael Ryder (1) ASST: Brenden Morrow (1), Mike Ribeiro (5)|
4 - 2 DAL
|Power Play %||21.7%||19.0%|
|% on Road||21.5%||23.3%|
|% at Home||22.0%||15.5%|
|Nicklas Grossmann Hooking against Derek MacKenzie|
|Vinny Prospal Tripping against Loui Eriksson|
|Sheldon Souray Interference against Derek Dorsett|
|Steve Ott Holding the stick against Vinny Prospal|
|Sheldon Souray Hooking against Samuel Pahlsson|
|Jamie Benn Interference on goalkeeper against Steve Mason|
|Rick Nash Slashing against Steve Ott|
|Vinny Prospal Unsportsmanlike conduct against Steve Ott|
|Nicklas Grossmann Roughing against Samuel Pahlsson|
|Alexandre Giroux Tripping against Adam Pardy|
|Fedor Tyutin Hooking against Brenden Morrow|