Skip to Main Content
game recap

Benn, Spezza lift Stars to Game 1 win against Wild

Forwards combine for five points, Lehtonen makes 22 saves in shutout victory

by Steve Hunt / Correspondent

DALLAS -- Jamie Benn, Jason Spezza and Patrick Eaves combined for seven points, and Kari Lehtonen made 22 saves to help the Dallas Stars to a 4-0 win against the Minnesota Wild at American Airlines Center on Thursday in Game 1 of their Western Conference First Round series.

It was the second Stanley Cup Playoff shutout of Lehtonen's career.

"[The shutout] is cool, but the most important thing is to get that first win, and we just go from here, go for Game No. 2," said Lehtonen, who was playing in his ninth career NHL playoff game.

Game 2 of the best-of-7 series will be in Dallas on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports 2, FS-N, FS-WI, FS-SW).

Benn had a goal and two assists, and Spezza and Eaves each had a goal and an assist.

Video: MIN@DAL, Gm1: Faksa finishes feed from Hemsky

Rookie forward Radek Faksa opened the scoring 3:53 into the second period on a wrist shot from the slot that beat goalie Devan Dubnyk top shelf over his glove. Ales Hemsky set up Faksa at the top of the hash marks after stealing the puck from Jarret Stoll in the neutral zone.

Faksa was one of four Stars making his NHL playoff debut; forward Mattias Janmark and defensemen John Klingberg and Stephen Johns were the others.

"I didn't really know what to expect. We obviously showed some good patience," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "Thought we had a little bit of the jitters in the first. I thought we defended well, played well away from the puck. I thought we had chances to make some more plays, and some of that execution was [lacking]. Maybe four days off hurt us a little bit."

Dallas scored twice in the second period and twice in the third after outshooting Minnesota 14-2 in a scoreless first period.

Video: MIN@DAL, Gm1: Spezza uses great fake to beat Dubnyk

The No. 1 seed Stars were 1-for-6 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill.

"Their special teams were better than ours. We didn't find a way to generate much early, and they defended hard," Minnesota forward Jason Pominville said. "We'll make adjustments and be better."

The Wild were without injured forwards Zach Parise (upper body), Thomas Vanek (upper body) and Erik Haula (lower body). Parise and Vanek combined for 94 points.

"Three of the goals, we had the puck. That's the bottom line," Minnesota coach John Torchetti said. "We got to make sure we manage the puck a lot better. Third goal was a big goal, it was still a 2-0 game and we were doing OK. [They scored off a] faceoff play, we got to do a better job."

Video: MIN@DAL, Gm1: Eaves jams home rebound for PPG

The Stars' best chance of the first period came with 6:06 remaining when Patrick Sharp one-timed a slap shot off the crossbar from the left circle.

Dubnyk poke-checked the puck from Hemsky on a breakaway at 10:52 of the second when he left the paint. Hemsky was playing in his first postseason game since 2006 with the Edmonton Oilers.

"Those are scenarios that allow you to make a read there. You can't do it every time, but if you time it right, it's a difficult play for the forward, and I was happy it worked," Dubnyk said.

Spezza gave Dallas a 2-0 lead with his 18th career playoff goal at 12:17 of the second. He first faked a slap shot from the right circle, and Dubnyk took the bait, leaving the short side open a bit. Spezza beat Dubnyk top shelf just inside the near post on a wrist shot from the edge of the right circle.

Video: MIN@DAL, Gm1: Lehtonen uses mask to make save

"I've scored a few there [to the short side]," Spezza said. "I just kind of take what's open. I had good looks. [Dubnyk is] a big goalie. He made some good saves tonight."

It was Spezza's first playoff goal since April 23, 2012, against the New York Rangers when he was with the Ottawa Senators.

"It's an intense game. They were ready to play. They played us tough. They played a patient game. The fans were into it," Spezza said. "Once we got the first goal, the rink really got rocking and I thought we used the momentum well."

Dubnyk turned away a backhand on a breakaway by Colton Sceviour with 10 seconds remaining in the second period to keep it a two-goal game.

"[Dubnyk] was pretty good, kept us in the game," Torchetti said. "Just can't give them so many power-play chances."

Video: MIN@DAL, Gm1: Dubnyk makes a pair of saves

Eaves scored off a rebound with 5:44 remaining in the third after Dubnyk made a pad save on Spezza's slap shot from near the blue line with Dallas on the power play. Torchetti challenged the goal, arguing that Eaves interfered with Dubnyk, but the goal was upheld following a video review.

Benn scored an unassisted goal into an empty net with 4:00 remaining.

Dubnyk expects a better performance in Game 2 from the Wild, who were 1-1-3 against the Stars in the regular season.

"The most important thing we got to understand is we can play with these guys, we can beat these guys. There's no reason to think otherwise," said Dubnyk, who made 28 saves. "We've shown it and we've got the guys in here [to do it]. We'll know what to expect on Saturday and be ready to go."

Video: Spezza, Stars shut down Wild in Game 1 victory

View More