Enroth, who took over for Kari Lehtonen in the second period with Stars the down 3-2, stopped all seven shots he faced in regulation as the Stars rallied to tie the game. Then, he made three saves in overtime turned away all three Panthers in the shootout to pick up his first win as a Star.
“I prepared well enough, and if I stayed positive I was going to be fine,” Enroth said.
Enroth, whom the Stars acquired from Buffalo on Feb. 11, improved to 6-0 in shootouts this season. Five of those wins came in Buffalo. He’s stopped 23 of 24 shots for a .958 save percentage.
“It’s a little luck,” Enroth said. “[Florida’s Nick] Bjugstad probably had me there if he would have hit the net. It’s one of those things that when you get in a good groove you just keep on going and I definitely feel good in shootouts.”
After Panthers goaltender Dan Ellis had stopped Jason Spezza and John Klingberg in the shootout, Stars coach Lindy Ruff turned to Sceviour, who had faced Ellis before in his career, as the third shooter.
“I knew that Colton had scored and went with that,” Ruff said. “Jamie Benn had struggled a little bit in the shootout. I was just looking at getting some different people and if we could win a game.”
Alex Goligoski scored the game-tying goal with 7:39 left in regulation for the Stars. Curtis McKenzie scored a goal and fought Florida defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, who delivered the low hit that injured Stars center Tyler Seguin in Dallas last month. Shawn Horcoff also scored for the Stars.
The win was the second straight for the Stars, who improved to 29-26-10 on the season and moved to within eight points of Winnipeg, which now holds the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“It’s huge for us. We need wins to get back in the race,” Horcoff said. “Tonight was a good start. We’ve got to forget about that now and get refocused for Tampa (Saturday). They’ve got a good team over there.”
Kulikov had a goal, an assist and a fight for the Panthers, who remained two points behind Boston for the final playoff spot in the East. Ellis, called up from the AHL due to injuries to both Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya, made 29 saves on 32 shots and stopped two of three in the shootout. It was Ellis’ first NHL appearance this season.
“I felt good in there,” said Ellis, who was traded to Florida from Dallas last season. “I would have liked to have gotten the second point, but getting one and helping from that perspective is a positive.”
The Stars took the lead 2:33 into the game. Jason Demers put a puck on net and McKenzie tipped it past Ellis to put Dallas up 1-0.
McKenzie dropped the gloves with Kulikov at the 12:24 mark. Kulikov, who was suspended four games for his hit on Seguin, said he was expecting to be challenged.
“Everything I was expecting happened,” Kulikov said. “They were sticking up for their teammate and I wasn’t going to back down. When they saw the opportunity to ask me to fight, we fought.”
Just 17 seconds later the Stars had a 2-0 lead. Horcoff picked off an Aaron Ekblad pass in the neutral zone, skated into the Florida zone, and his shot deflected past Ellis off the stick of Florida defensemen Brian Campbell.
The Panthers got on the board late in the first, taking advantage of a bad line change by the Stars. Brandon Pirri broke in alone on net and scored off a wrist shot to make it a 2-1 game at the 17:00 mark of the period.
The Panthers scored twice in the second period to take a 3-2 lead and chase Lehtonen from the net. Just after the Stars’ second power play of the night expired, Kulikov stepped out of the penalty box, took a pass from Jussi Jokinen, broke in on net and scored off a wrist shot to tie the game 2-2 at 8:15 of the second.
Florida took the lead a little more than four minutes later when Jonathan Huberdeau scored from a sharp angle off the rush, giving Florida a 3-2 lead at the 12:28 mark. That ended the night for Lehtonen, who allowed three goals on 14 shots.
“The first one and third one cannot go in. I don’t know why today they went,” Lehtonen said. “We played well in the first period before that, didn’t give them anything and then it got tougher. I just made one or two good saves, and that’s it.”
Ruff seemed more concerned about the chances the Stars were giving up at the time he replaced Lehtonen with Enroth.
“I look at what we gave up,” Ruff said. “I didn’t like the play at the end of the power play to give them a breakaway. We had a tough change where the guy walks in alone, too. I was more concerned that we were giving up the rush chances. They are tougher quality.”
The Stars got the equalizer with 7:39 remaining in the third. After John Klingberg stopped a clearing attempt at the blue line, he set up Goligoski, whose shot from the point beat a screened Ellis. That sent the game to overtime and then the shootout, where the Stars made it two straight wins in games settled beyond regulation.
“Right now, it is very important. Very important,” Ruff said of those wins in extra time. “They are extra points, and you are very frustrated when you lose a shootout and you are pretty happy when you win. To start a trip that we’ve got five on the road and end up winning in a shootout is a good thing for this club.”
*The Stars are 5-10 in games settled beyond regulation. They are 3-3 in shootouts and 2-7 in four-on-four overtime.
*The shootout win was the first for the Stars since Dec. 21 at Edmonton.
*The Stars are 5-0-1 in their last six games vs. the Eastern Conference and are 14-10-2 against the East this season.
*Stars defenseman John Klingberg picked up an assist and now leads all NHL rookie defensemen in scoring with 35 points (10 goals, 25 assists).
*Klingberg led the Stars with 27:00 of ice time tonight.
*The Stars outshot the Panthers 32-24.
*Ryan Garbutt led the Stars with six shots on goal.
*The Stars were 0-2 on the power play and 2-2 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars won 41 of 70 faceoffs (59 percent).
*Shawn Horcoff won 9 of 13 (69 percent). Cody Eakin won 13 of 20 (65 percent). Jason Spezza won 7 of 12 (58 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 9 of 17 (53 percent).
*Center Tyler Seguin (knee) skated with the team Thursday morning and could be within one week of returning. Defenseman Trevor Daley (lower body) is expected to be out 2-4 weeks.
*Florida’s Jaromir Jagr, Willie Mitchell and Erik Gudbranson all sat out Thursday’s game due to illness.
Jamie Benn – Jason Spezza – Patrick Eaves
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Ryan Garbutt
Colton Sceviour – Vernon Fiddler – Ales Hemsky
Curtis McKenzie – Shawn Horcoff – Brett Ritchie
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
Jordie Benn – Jason Demers
Jyrki Jokipakka – Patrik Nemeth
Injured: Tyler Seguin (knee), Trevor Daley (lower body), Travis Moen (upper body), Valeri Nichushkin (hip)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.