Julius Honka's first NHL goal was always going to be memorable for him, but he added a little flair to it Tuesday night. Honka scored 3:45 into overtime to lift the Dallas Stars to a 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes at American Airlines Center.
"It feels good," Honka said of scoring his first NHL goal. "This time I've been up here I've had lots of chances, I'm happy it ended up like this. First goal. Overtime."
Honka's goal capped off a great shift in the three-on-three overtime along with forwards Gemel Smith and Jason Spezza. After Honka was denied on a shot from the left circle, Smith got the loose puck to Spezza, who set up Honka in the right circle and the 21-year-old defenseman blasted the puck over the glove hand of Arizona goaltender Mike Smith.
"It was the end of the shift, and I just wanted to shoot it," said Honka. "I am glad it happened like that."
Honka, a first-round pick (14th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft, has five points (one goal, four assists) in 14 games with Dallas this season.
"I think he's getting a little bit more confident to get involved on the offensive side," said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. "He's done a nice job moving the puck. The overtime is a time when he should excel with that much ice and the way he can skate. I think he feels a little bit more comfortable."
The Stars got a strong performance from their young call-ups, who are helping fill the injury void. Honka and Smith came up big in the overtime, and Jason Dickinson had a strong game, scoring his second career NHL goal.
"The young guys played really well," said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. "Dickinson had two or three good opportunities. Smitty did a heck of a job in overtime, getting up ice and creating a couple of opportunities. Overall, the young guys skated well."
Brett Ritchie scored his 16th goal of the season for the Stars, and Antti Niemi stopped 24 of 26 shots. The Stars won their third straight home game and improved to 33-36-11 on the season.
"It was a good win," Ritchie said. "There were parts of our game we did really well. There were some lapses, and it was kind of a sloppy game, the puck was bouncing a lot. I don't know if it was fun to watch, but it was good to get the win."
Christian Dvorak and Anthony Duclair scored goals, and Mike Smith stopped 28 of 31 shots for the Coyotes (29-42-9).
"It's a learning curve for everyone. We had a young lineup tonight, and that team over there has a lot of offensive power," Coyotes forward Max Domi said. "We had some bad luck in the first period. We'll accept that, move forward and try to learn from everything."
The Stars took advantage of two Arizona turnovers to build a 2-0 lead in the first period. After a faceoff in the Arizona end, defenseman Anthony DeAngelo coughed up the puck to Ritchie, who scored from the slot at 13:54 of the first.
Less than four minutes later, Adam Cracknell forced a turnover in the Coyotes zone, and Dickinson broke in alone on net and put the puck past Smith at the 17:24 mark.
"I was going to take it backside and pull it to my backhand, but [Smith] seemed to freeze as I made the little hesitation and the low blocker just opened up for me, so I took it," Dickinson said.
But 12 seconds after the Dickinson goal the Coyotes cut the lead to 2-1 on a goal by Dvorak.
The Stars had a couple of great chances to extend the lead in the second period, but couldn't take advantage. Smith got caught out of position, but Radek Faksa's bid at a wide-open net was blocked by Peter Holland. Spezza came close to making it a 2-0 game with ten seconds left in the period, but his shot from the left circle rang off the crossbar.
Thirty seconds after the Stars missed on their third power play of the night the Coyotes scored to tie the game with 4:27 remaining in the third period. Domi backhanded the puck from behind the Dallas net to Duclair, who snapped the puck past Niemi to make it a 2-2 game.
Early in the overtime, Niemi had big saves on Tobias Reider and Jordan Martinook to keep it a tie game and that set the stage for Honka's heroics.
*The Stars are 5-11 in games that have gone beyond regulation this season. They are 5-9 in three-on-three overtime and 0-2 in the shootout.
*The Stars have won three straight overtime games.
*The Stars outshot the Coyotes 31-26 and had a 68-47 advantage in shot attempts.
*Julius Honka led the Stars with five shots on goal.
*The Stars were 0-3 on the power play and 3-3 on the penalty kill.
*Dallas won 30 of 49 faceoffs (61 percent). Cody Eakin won 9 of 14 (64 percent). Tyler Seguin won 8 of 13 (62 percent).
*John Klingberg led the Stars with 25:45 of ice time.
*Coyotes captain Shane Doan was a late scratch due to a lower-body injury. The Coyotes were also without leading goal scorer Radim Vrbata (lower body) and No. 1 defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (personal).
The Stars continue the homestand Thursday when they take on the Nashville Predators. The Stars are 2-2-0 in the season series with the Predators.
Jamie Benn - Cody Eakin - Devin Shore
Remi Elie - Tyler Seguin - Brett Ritchie
Gemel Smith - Radek Faksa - Jason Spezza
Jason Dickinson - Justin Dowling - Adam Cracknell
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Julius Honka
Jamie Oleksiak - Stephen Johns
Scratched: Patrik Nemeth, Greg Pateryn
Injured: Curtis McKenzie (eye), Antoine Roussel (hand), Ales Hemsky (hip), Jiri Hudler (groin), Patrick Sharp (hip), Mattias Janmark (knee)
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 DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.