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Stars hold off Capitals to give Ruff first win

by Steve Hunt /

DALLAS -- Kari Lehtonen made Lindy Ruff a first-time winner as coach of the Dallas Stars by saving the best of his 25 saves for last.

Lehtonen used his glove to rob Mikhail Grabovski at the final buzzer to preserve a 2-1 victory against the Washington Capitals on Saturday night and give Ruff his win victory with his new team.

"I thought there was a lot to like, except for some really good opportunities that we missed," Ruff said. "But work ethic wise, it was tremendous."

Dallas center Tyler Seguin was called for delay of game when he flipped the puck over the glass with 35.6 seconds remaining in regulation. The Stars negated the first 30 seconds before Washington managed a final rush, but Lehtonen's glove nabbed Grabovski's wide-open 10-footer from the slot to give Dallas the win.

Alex Ovechkin scored a power-play goal 4:26 after the opening faceoff for the Capitals, who've dropped two of their three games. Eric Cole tied it at 8:01, and rookieAlex Chiasson put Dallas ahead to stay at 12:07 of the second period with his second goal in as many games. Chiasson raced down the slot and fired home a rebound afterBraden Holtby stopped a shot by former CapitalCody Eakin.

Holtby, who was pulled after allowing three first-period goals against the Calgary Flames on Thursday, rebounded with a sharp effort. He stopped 19 of 21 shots.

"He looked very solid and calm," Capitals coach Adam Oates said.

Washington's power play, which came into the game 5-for-9, turned Dallas' first penalty into the game's opening goal.Mike Green slid the puck to Ovechkin in the left circle for a one-time rocket that Lehtonen had no chance on. Washington got the power play at 3:25 when Dallas defensemanStephane Robidas trippedBrooks Laich near the goal.

"I thought we did a nice job on their power play," Ruff said. "Ovechkin just did what he does. He took a shot from a tough angle and he found a hole."

Cole tied the game when he snapped a shot from the slot past Holtby. Seguin, acquired in an off-season trade with the Boston Bruins, picked up his first assist with Dallas on the goal, sliding a backhand pass to Cole from behind the net.

Washington appeared to have regained the lead 8:01 into the second period whenNicklas Backstrom knocked the puck into the net. However, after the officials reviewed the play, Backstrom was ruled to have interfered with Lehtonen before he got a piece ofJohn Carlson's shot, and the goal was waved off.

"The chances were pretty even in the game. There wasn't a lot from both ends and that's why that turning point [the disallowed goal] is a tough one to swallow," Oates said, "but like I said you've got to be able to survive that stuff."

"[Backstrom] told me he hit the puck first and then the goalie, but that's their decision," said Ovechkin, who admitted he didn't see the play.

Oates had a bit more to say than his top scorer about the non-goal.

"I think it should have been a goal based on the replay. But the referees, they're trying to do the best they can," he said. "I thought once the puck goes in there, you're allowed to go after it. And I didn't think [Backstrom] interfered with him. I think he touched the puck first and then the goalie. Obviously the goalie embellished it a little."

Lehtonen, not surprisingly, had a different opinion.

"I knew that I got hit pretty hard. I tried to tell that to the linesman," he said. "I think he saw it too and he went to tell them. It was a weird play. Sometimes they are able see it and sometimes not. I'm just lucky they waved it off."

After Dallas killed off a penalty to Shawn Horcoff, Chiasson put the Stars ahead to stay. Lehtonen got some help from his crossbar early in the third period when Laich's wrister on a shorthanded breakaway beat the goaltender but not the iron.

"I felt defensively like I played pretty good tonight," Chiasson said. "It all starts there and good things happen usually. The less time you spend in your zone, the more time you've got to make plays. I thought tonight our line played well. We won a lot of battles down low and we were skating well."

After an off day on Sunday, Oates admits his team has plenty to work on in practice next week. The Capitals are off until the Carolina Hurricanes come to Verizon Center on Thursday.

"We fought hard today. We didn't do a good enough job exiting our zone, making a nice pass and getting it behind them," Oates said. "We turned it over in the neutral zone with almost plays, where guys knock it down or a bad pass. One of the things we talk about every day is support and getting it to the next spot. We didn't do a good enough job of that."

Dallas rebounded from a 4-2 loss to the Florida Panthers on Thursday by eliminating a lot of the little mistakes that caused them to surrender three unanswered third-period goals, turning a 2-1 lead into a two-goal loss.

"I think the atmosphere in the locker room was good before the game. You could see that guys wanted to win and play well," said Chiasson, a college star at Boston University who has eight goals in nine NHL games. "I thought we looked really good in our zone, breaking out the puck and in the neutral zone coming back. I thought we looked like a team tonight."

Rich Peverley, acquired with Seguin in July, made his debut with the Stars; he missed the preseason after being diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat.

Dallas is off until Friday, when it visits the Winnipeg Jets to start a three-game road trip.

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