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What we learned from Stars' preseason loss to Blues

Pavelski debuts for Dallas at center and Kiviranta flashes his potential in Monday's exhibition opener

by Jeff Odom @jeffodom / DallasStars.com

DALLAS -- Monday's preseason opener between the Stars and Blues looked a lot like, well, a preseason opener.

St. Louis scored twice in the second period on goals from Klim Kostin and Robert Bortuzzo and Dallas had a difficult time shaking off its offseason rust, falling 2-0 at American Airlines Center.

"Our competitive spirit wasn't very good tonight and we need to get better," coach Jim Montgomery said of the Stars, who looked sluggish at times and were outshot 33-22 for the game.

With plenty to sort out between now and opening night on Oct. 3, here is what we saw from the first of Dallas' seven exhibition contests this month:

 

Kiviranta showed his ability to create chances

Video: Monty on "competitive spirit" of first preseason game

Joel Kiviranta has shown flashes of potential with the Stars since signing an entry-level contract this summer, and the belief is that the two-way forward could make a quick leap to the opening night roster with a strong preseason.

At the NHL Prospect Tournament in Traverse City, Mich., the 23-year-old impressed with a hat trick in only his second North American game. On Monday, his speed and ability to create scoring chances was evident again. The only thing Kivirianta lacked was the finishing touch that helped him post 31 points in the Finnish Liiga last season.

On a feed from Denis Gurianov in front of Blues goaltender Ville Husso in the second period, Kiviranta had a nice look in the slot, but put it over the top of the net. In the third, he was denied on another opportunity off a rush by Adam Wilcox's glove.

Montgomery said he was impressed with Kiviranta's quickness -- noting it was "probably more noticable tonight than it was in practice" -- and ability to win battles.

"We thought he was good tonight," Montgomery said. "He was one of the guys that did win battles on walls and made good plays through the neutral zone. ... Had a couple chances, drove the net. He's one of the forwards that if you're rating on a scale of one to five, like we do postgame, he's probably at least a three."

 

Harley had 'good poise' in first taste of NHL

Going into the game, defenseman Thomas Harley, the Stars' first-round draft pick in June, talked about what it would be like to see his first NHL action, even in preseason.

"I'm going to be playing against guys I grew up watching," the 18-year-old said Sunday. "So it's definitely kind of a surreal feeling."

Though he took Dallas' lone penalty against the Blues -- a hooking minor in the second period -- and struggled to settle into a groove early, tripping on the blueline, Harley's night was mostly positive, Montgomery said. He finished third on the team with an even 20 minutes of ice time and one shot on goal.

"Harley impressed me," said Montgomery, who has paired the teen with veteran Roman Polak throughout training camp and did so again in Monday's game. "Real good poise. Our best breakouts and passing plays he was involved in."

 

Pavelski made his Stars debut at center

The prized free-agent signing of Dallas' summer, Joe Pavelski made his debut in Victory Green wearing an "A" as one of the team's alternate captains along with Esa Lindell and John Klingberg.

While he was a minus-1 on the scoresheet, the former San Jose Sharks captain finished with three shots on goal and brought a veteran presence to the Stars' top line, centering Kiviranta and Gurianov. He also saw time during Dallas' lone power-play opportunity on a unit with Riley Tufte, Jason Robertson, Klingberg and Gurianov.

At morning skate, Montgomery said it can be expected that Pavelski will shift around from center to the wings throughout the season.

"He's gonna do a lot of all three positions, I would think," Montgomery said. "Tonight, he's gonna play center. I think next game, we're gonna put him on right wing."

 

It was a 'fun' homecoming for Noesen

Video: Noesen relishes suiting up for Stars against Blues

Plano's Stefan Noesen, who is with the team on a professional tryout contract, was physical in his homecoming with the Stars, living up to his hope from Saturday that he might "run through a wall" on his first shift.

"I tried the first couple shifts, but guys were the same size as me," he said. "So it didn't really work out too well."

All in all, though, it was a memorable opportunity for the former first-round pick to suit up for the team he grew up rooting for. Hoping to return to form after missing half of last season with a knee injury in New Jersey, Noesen finished with 14:03 of ice time and helped set up a solid 3-on-1 scoring chance with Ty Dellandrea and Tufte that trickled just wide early in the second.

"It was nice having the 'Stars!' chants for you and not having to fire it up to go play against them," Noesen said. "That's always fun."

 

Other notables

» Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin split duties in net for the Stars, yielding one goal apiece and combining for 31 saves. Bishop's goal allowed came off a turnover by Klingberg that wound up finding Kostin and then the back of the net. Khudobin's was on a slap shot by Bortuzzo through a screen in front.

» Klingberg and Lindell led the Stars with 21:12 and 20:02 of ice time, respectively.

» The Stars' lineup for the game looked like this:

 

Joel Kiviranta - Joe Pavelski - Denis Gurianov

Andrew Cogliano - Radek Faksa - Blake Comeau

Riley Tufte - Ty Dellandrea - Stefan Noesen

Nick Caamano - Rhett Gardner - Jason Robertson

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg

Thomas Harley - Roman Polak

Emil Djuse - Dawson Barteaux

Ben Bishop

Anton Khudobin

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Jeff Odom covers the Stars for DallasStars.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeffodom.

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