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Stars beat Hawks 2-1 in Gulutzan's coaching debut

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- Glen Gulutzan's NHL coaching debut was a success.

Alex Goligoski and Jamie Benn scored in the second period and Kari Lehtonen stopped 37 shots as the Dallas Stars beat the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 on Friday night at the American Airlines Center in Gulutzan's first game behind the Stars' bench.

"It's a relief," Gulutzan said. "Now I know I can win one. I thought the guys played really good. Chicago's a hard team to play against in your home opener because they're so pacey, they're well coached and they've got good skill."

The Stars beat the Blackhawks for the fourth consecutive time. The teams will meet again in Chicago on Saturday night.

Not only did Gulutzan win his NHL coaching debut, he also became the first Stars coach to win his first game behind the bench since the franchise moved to Dallas in 1993. The last coach to win his first game with the franchise was Glen Sonmor, who accomplished the feat while the club was in Minnesota in 1979.

Dallas is now 10-2-6 in openers since coming to Texas.

Goligoski broke a scoreless tie when his long slap shot beat Corey Crawford to the glove side just 59 seconds into the second period for a 1-0 lead.

"I think their wings were kind of cheating a little bit and not paying attention," Goligoski said. "So I jumped in that spot and [center Mike Ribeiro] is going to put that there. I was lucky to get a good shot off."

Benn's tally at 16:02 of the second period came on a tap-in right in front of the Chicago net. Sheldon Souray, one of the NHL's hardest shooters, fired a slap shot from just outside the left circle. Crawford stopped Souray's attempt, but Benn poked in the rebound.

Benn's came during a 4-on-4 situation that started just six seconds earlier when the Blackhawks Marian Hossa was whistled for slashing. Chicago had been on the power play thanks to a tripping penalty against Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas at 14:16 but saw the advantage quickly negated with the Hossa penalty.

It's the kind of goal the new Dallas coach wants to see more of.

"We're going to have to get a lot more goals like that, where we have front net presence, we get shots through from the point and we get ugly goals," Gulutzan said. "Those make the difference."

The Hawks pulled Crawford with just under three minutes left in regulation and made it interesting when Nick Leddy blasted a slap shot from the right wing that Lehtonen never saw. But the Hawks managed just one more shot before the final horn sounded.

"He had a great performance," Gulutzan said of Lehtonen. "I thought he was the difference. Kari was our backbone tonight."

It was a frustrating night for Chicago coach Joel Quenneville, who fell to 1-7-5 all-time on opening night.

"It was one of those nights where you get behind 2-0 and we couldn't get that first one until it was too late," Quenneville said.

Gulutzan, who came to Dallas after coaching the Stars' AHL affiliate, revamped the penalty kill -- and it showed. The Stars killed off all four Chicago power plays against a team that converted 23.1 percent of its chances last season.

"We had some chances on the power play, some mistakes here and there," Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews said. "It's not the way we wanted to start the season, obviously. I think we made too many mistakes and gave up too many chances. We've got to play with a little more energy.

Benn delivered another highlight at 5:09 of the third period when the Dallas center delivered a crushing hit on Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson. The hit was so powerful that it broke a section of the glass in the Blackhawks end but play resumed after a short delay.

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