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Stars fall to Panthers, 4-2

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars fell to 1-3-0 in preseason play with a 4-2 loss to the Florida Panthers at American Airlines Center Sunday night.

Florida’s Connor Brickley scored the game-winning goal with 4:19 remaining in the third, stealing the puck from Dallas goaltender Kari Lehtonen and putting the puck into the open net to snap a 2-2 tie.

“I thought we worked extremely hard and played a hell of a game,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “There was a lot of good stuff inside the game. A bizarre goal beats us. We had a great five-on-three penalty kill in the first period and after that we pretty much took the game over. Third period it was their first or second shot that went in. You play like that you are going to win your share of games.”

Mattias Janmark and Travis Moen scored goals for the Stars. Lehtonen played the entire game, stopping 17 of 20 shots in a good bounce back effort after giving up six goals in his first start of the preseason.

“I was disappointed after messing up there at the crucial time, but before that it was a big step forward,” said Lehtonen. “I felt good and was able to make some good saves. That was the good part.”


First period: The Stars opened the scoring 3:28 into the game. Jyrki Jokipakka stole the puck in the neutral zone and set up Mattias Janmark, who scored from the left wing off the rush. The Stars killed off back-to-back penalties midway through the first, including a 5-on-3 for 1:01, but Florida tied the game at 14:11 on a Jussi Jokinen goal from the left circle. Florida had a 10-2 shots advantage in the period.

Second period: Just after the Stars’ first power play of the night expired, Reilly Smith scored on a two-on-one rush to give Florida a 2-1 lead at 11:55 of the period. Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen came up with a big stop on Jokinen two minutes later to keep it a one-goal game and Travis Moen tied the game at 2-2, banging in the rebound of his own shot at the 15:58 mark. The Stars had a 10-7 shots advantage in the second period.

Third period: The Stars dominated the third, outshooting the Panthers 10-1 through the first 14:30 of the third. But with 4:19 remaining, Lehtonen turned over the puck behind the net and Connor Brickley scored to snap the 2-2 tie. Derek MacKenzie scored into an empty net with 17 seconds left to seal the win. The Stars outshot the Panthers 10-3 over the final 20 minutes of regulation.

3-on-3 overtime: The two teams played a 3-on-3 overtime period as part of the NHL’s plan to help teams familiarize themselves with the new OT format. Stars prospect Remi Elie scored with 3.6 seconds remaining, driving the net and putting the puck past Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo.

Janmark impresses

Forward Mattias Janmark was impressive in Sunday’s game, scoring a goal and leading the Stars with five shots on goal. The Swedish forward, acquired from Detroit last season as part of the Erik Cole trade, was impressive at the NHL Prospect Tournament in Traverse City earlier this month. And he’s continued the trend at training camp.

“He played very well,” Ruff said. “He had a breakaway; he scored the goal. Inside the game, he is darting, he is around the puck, and he is making plays. I thought he played very well.”

Janmark is one of the young players pushing for a roster spot. Ruff said Janmark was putting the team in the position of making a tough decision. The 22-year-old forward likes to keep things in perspective.

“It’s not about one game; you have to establish yourself and keep continuously playing well. I think that is the hard part about the NHL. Today was a good game, but you have to put up a few more to be able to play here,” Janmark said. “I think the step isn’t that big, but I’ve got things to work on. I am glad the organization gives me great looks. Now that I am here I get to play on the power play, and I got to play with good players today. It’s a great opportunity for me, and I think I should be able to learn from it to become better. One day maybe I’ll be able to play, but I don’t know when. I am just trying to become a better player every day. Hopefully, I’ll get to stay here but no matter what happens I learn every day here, and that’s good.”

Fight night

Sunday’s game got a little chippy at times and featured two fights. Stars forward Curtis McKenzie dropped the gloves with Florida defenseman Alex Petrovic at 15:10 of the first period. Then Stars forward Travis Moen went at it with Florida defenseman Erik Gudbranson at the end of the first.

“Yeah, it was a little chippy,” Moen said. “You haven’t seen two fights in a preseason game too much in the past two years. I think guys are trying to get a little bit of the rust out, get a little feel for the game and it’s always fun to mix it up a little bit.”

Shore replaces Spezza

Jason Spezza was expected to play in Sunday’s game but did not skate Sunday morning and then did not play Sunday night against Florida. Devin Shore took his spot centering a line with Valeri Nichushkin and Patrick Eaves on the wings.

“Just a maintenance decision,” Ruff said of Spezza not playing.


Stars coach Lindy Ruff on the play of Kari Lehtonen: “I thought Kari made some really good saves for us, he made the save on (Jaromir) Jagr. There wasn’t a lot of action in the third period, and he made a mistake, it’s as simple as that. The decision to go play it or how quickly he wanted to play that one, or the read on it, it’s training camp, and you learn from it. I think we’ve learned a lot from our first two games. I think we played really well and tonight was a game that could have been ours if we had taken advantage of some of our odd-numbered rushes. They had a two-on-one that they scored, and we had a couple where we didn’t, that was probably the difference.”

Ruff on Remi Elie, who scored in 3-on-3 overtime: “That kid’s a bulldog. Those guys kind of feed off each other, their forecheck pressure was very good. He’s a guy that hounds it, he’s physical and he’s a young kid that has a lot of upside. I know the three-on-three was practice but I thought his movement just sums it up, he took it to the net hard and got rewarded. He scored a great goal there.”

Stars forward Mattias Janmark on his goal: “Just kind of a lucky bounce. [Jyrki] Jokipakka does a good job in the neutral zone to pick up the puck, and I tried to yell at him that I am behind him. I just shoot it towards the net, and I guess it bounced off their D. I saw it go in, and that was good.”

Stars forward Travis Moen on the game: "I thought we played really well. That’s a good lineup over there. We did a lot of good things. Obviously it would have been nice to win that one. I thought we played physical, got in on the forecheck; didn’t give up too much. The couple we did were pretty good scoring chances. Above all, it was a pretty good game.”


*The Stars outshot the Panthers 22-20.

*Mattias Janmark led Dallas with five shots on goal.

*The Stars were 0-2 on the power play and 3-3 on the penalty kill.

*The Stars won 35 of 56 faceoffs (63 percent).

*Cody Eakin won 12 of 16 draws (75 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 9 of 15 (60 percent). Radek Faksa won 7 of 9 (78 percent). Devin Shore won 5 of 13 (38 percent).

*Jason Demers led the Stars with 23:39 of ice time. Johnny Oduya was next with 22:54.

*Jamie Oleksiak led Dallas with eight hits.

What’s next

The Stars practice Monday in Frisco. Their next preseason game is Tuesday against St. Louis at American Airlines Center. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

Stars lineup

Valeri NichushkinDevin ShorePatrick Eaves

Curtis McKenzieVernon FiddlerColton Sceviour

Mattias JanmarkCody EakinRemi Elie

Travis MoenRadek Faksa – Mads Eller

Johnny Oduya
Jason Demers

Jyrki JokipakkaJordie Benn

Patrik NemethJamie Oleksiak

Kari Lehtonen

Jack Campbell

 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 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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