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Stars keep composure, top Devils in shootout

by Dan Rosen

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Dallas Stars did what their coach wanted them to do Friday. It was the best Lindy Ruff has seen his team play this season.

"I thought it was as close to a four-line game as we've played," Ruff said following Dallas' 3-2 shootout win against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center.

Dallas used its speed to play with the puck and to generate scoring chances. It rolled four lines, limited mistakes on defense, and limited quality scoring chances against. The Stars also kept their composure when a call went against them.

The Stars improved to 4-1-2 this season, including 4-0-1 in their past five games, but they viewed their effort Friday as a bounce-back performance following games against the Philadelphia Flyers and Vancouver Canucks. They scored 11 goals and earned three out of four points against the Flyers and Canucks, but allowed nine goals on 83 shots.

"That looked a lot like how we played last year," Ruff said of the win Friday. "We eliminated a lot of the mistakes. We got pucks out, put some pressure on in the neutral zone. We were a lot more diligent with assignments."

Jason Spezza and Jamie Benn scored in the shootout, the only two attempts needed against Devils goalie Cory Schneider, who didn't get support in the other direction.

Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen didn't have to make a save in the shootout; Mike Cammalleri's shot went wide and Jaromir Jagr whiffed on his attempt.

The Devils were 0-13 with four goals in the shootout last season and have lost 18 in a row since defeating the Winnipeg Jets on March 10, 2013.

"We'll just pick up and move on," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "I'm not concerned about it. I know we're going to win some shootouts, so we'll take the point and move on to Ottawa."

The Devils, who play at the Ottawa Senators on Saturday, have lost four games in a row (0-2-2) and haven't won a home game. They finished this three-game homestand 0-1-2, including a 4-2 loss against the San Jose Sharks and a 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Rangers.

"We're cobbling some points together here, but when we play three in a row at home, we expect to at least win one of them," Schneider said. "I think we all could have been a little bit better in individual areas, myself included."

DeBoer said he felt the Devils were fortunate to get a point against the Stars because they were outplayed for most of the game.

The Stars outshot New Jersey 34-21 after defenseman Eric Gelinas gave the Devils a 1-0 lead at 5:31 of the first period.

Benn tied the game with a power-play goal at 4:28 of the second period off assists from Spezza and Tyler Seguin. Benn has scored a goal in five consecutive games. The line of Benn, Spezza and Seguin has combined for 21 points in the past 10 periods.

Patrick Eaves gave the Stars a 2-1 lead at 15:48 of the second. His shot from the right circle, not far from the half-wall, beat Schneider on the short side, between his body and underneath his glove.

"I'm not sure why some of those have been going in this year so far," Schneider said. "I felt pretty good in every game. I've got to cut those out because right now they're taking a lot away from our team."

Devils forward Damien Brunner scored the tying goal at 8:18 of the third period, but the Stars didn't like that it was allowed. Brunner converted on what was a hand pass from Patrik Elias that nicked off of Lehtonen's skate, slid through the crease, along the goal line, and onto his stick.

The play was not blown dead for a hand pass. A hand pass that leads to a goal is not a situation subject to video review, according to Rule 38.4 in the NHL Rulebook.

The goal was reviewed by the Situation Room in Toronto to determine if Stars defenseman Jordie Benn had knocked the net off its moorings before the puck crossed the goal line. It was determined to be a good goal even if the Stars disagreed with it.

"We have faced some adversity in some games and we've been able to keep our composure," Ruff said. "We just went back to work."

Spezza said the Stars are able to keep their composure because Ruff hasn't lost his cool.

"I think they're looking at that stuff and it'd be nice with all the cameras if they can get those calls right, but I thought Lindy showing his composure makes us show our composure and you just gotta push forward and try to find a way to win," Spezza said. "There's no point in getting too upset about it, you've still got a game to play."

The Stars had a power play 16 seconds after Brunner's goal but managed two shot attempts, one on goal. Stars forward Erik Cole had a breakaway with 4:35 remaining in the third period, but Schneider stopped him with a blocker save.

That they didn't convert on either of those chances to win in regulation mattered little to Ruff. He was pleased with everybody in his lineup for the first time this season.

"By far our best game overall," Ruff said.


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