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Esa Lindell leads Stars past Canucks

Defenseman scores first NHL goal, picks up assist as Stars win 2-1

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

Dallas Stars defenseman Esa Lindell had a unique experience in Friday night's game against Vancouver. He was awarded his first NHL goal twice. The first one was eventually changed to teammate Radek Faksa, but the second one remained his, and it was the game-winner as the Stars defeated the Canucks, 2-1, at American Airlines Center.

"It feels good," said Lindell, who scored from the left circle midway through the second period to give the Stars a 2-1 lead that would hold up the rest of the game.

The 22-year-old Lindell, who is in his first full NHL season, played 21:13 in the game, second highest total on the team. He registered one goal, one assist, two shots on goal, three shot attempts and three blocked shots.

"He was strong," said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. "A goal and an assist and I just thought he played a big man's game down low. He was strong on the body and won a lot of battles. The release on both goals, I don't think we score unless he releases it that quick, so I thought Esa did a real nice job for us."

Antti Niemi turned in a big performance in net for the Stars, stopping 30 shots including some big ones in the third period as the Canucks pressed for the game-tying goal.

"I thought it was a heck of a battle for about 50 minutes. When they started to pinch and got all five guys involved, we needed a couple big saves, and we got them," said Stars coach Lindy Ruff.

Video: Lindell, Faksa lead Stars from behind for 2-1 win

The Stars improved to 5-2-2 over their past nine games and are now 9-8-5 on the season.

"I think we played really good," said Stars defenseman John Klingberg. "We got two points, which is what we wanted. We've got some stuff to work on, but it is huge for us to get two points and get some confidence going."

Jayson Megna scored the lone goal, and Ryan Miller stopped 26 of 28 shots for the Canucks, who fell to 8-11-2 on the season.

"We're playing well, and we're getting our chances," said Megna. "Some nights they just don't go in, and that's the National Hockey League. I think you keep playing the way we did tonight and we'll win more than we lose."

The Canucks scored on their first shot of the game. Megna, playing on the second line with Sven Baertschi out due to injury, blew by Stars defenseman Dan Hamhuis, broke in on net and scored off a backhand shot 5:01 into the game.

The Stars tied it midway through the second when Lindell put a shot on net from the left point, and Faksa deflected it past Miller to make it a 1-1 game at the 9:32 mark. The goal was originally credited to Lindell, who had to wait until later in the period to get his first NHL goal.

"It was obviously Faksa's goal," Lindell said. "I was surprised they announced me for that goal."

"I felt a little bad [for Lindell], but I need the goal, too," Faksa said with a smile.

Lindell put the Stars ahead at 15:58 of the second with that first NHL goal, taking a saucer pass from Jamie Benn and scoring from the left circle to make it a 2-1 game.

"I'm just trying to get the shots to the net," Lindell said. "The guys are really good at blocking here. There's not much time, so I had good luck tonight."

The Canucks outshot the Stars 14-7 in the third, but Niemi had several big saves to keep the Stars on top by one goal. He made a nice save on a Brandon Sutter attempt from the slot 2:26 into the period. He stopped Alexandre Burrows from about ten feet out at the 6:36 mark. He denied Burrows again at 17:08.

The Canucks had a power play for the final 1:57 of the game, but the Stars were able to kill it off and hold on for the win.

"I think we played really solid," said Klingberg. "We got some really big saves from Antti tonight, and we are really happy with the win."


*Stars goaltender Antti Niemi is 5-1-1 at home this season with a 1.98 goals-against average and .936 save percentage.

*The Stars won for the first time this season when giving up the first goal of the game (1-7-3).

*The Canucks outshot the Stars 31-28 and had a 69-52 advantage in shot attempts.

*Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza led the Stars with 4 shots on goal.

*Brett Ritchie led the Stars with 6 shot attempts.

*The Stars blocked 24 shots. Jordie Benn was tops with 6 blocked shots for Dallas.

*The Stars were 0-1 on the power play and 2-2 on the penalty kill.

*The Stars won 31 of 63 faceoffs (49 percent).

*Jamie Benn won 5 of 6 faceoffs (83 percent). Jason Spezza won 4 of 6 (67 percent). Radek Faksa won 7 of 15 (47 percent). Tyler Seguin won 7 of 15 (47 percent). Cody Eakin won 7 of 16 (44 percent).

*Jamie Oleksiak led the Stars with 22:13 of ice time.

*Stars forward Antoine Roussel and Canucks defenseman Luca Sbisa picked up fighting majors in the first period.

What's Next

The Stars will head out on a four-game road trip. They'll play at St. Louis, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Colorado.

Stars Lineup

Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Patrick Eaves
Patrick Sharp - Cody Eakin - Jason Spezza
Antoine Roussel - Radek Faksa - Brett Ritchie
Lauri Korpikoski - Devin Shore - Adam Cracknell

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Jamie Oleksiak - Jordie Benn
Dan Hamhuis - Julius Honka

Antti Niemi
Kari Lehtonen

Scratched: Patrik Nemeth, Curtis McKenzie
Injured: Johnny Oduya (lower body), Jiri Hudler (illness), Mattias Janmark (knee), Ales Hemsky (hip)

This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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