Ruff becomes only the fifth coach in NHL history to hit that mark.
“It means I’ve been around for a long time,” Ruff said. “I am looking forward to the next 700.”
Ruff has won 129 of those games with Dallas, where he is in his third year as head coach.
“He’s a great coach, and he deserves every win he gets,” said Stars defenseman Jordie Benn. “Hopefully, there is more to come.”
Added forward Patrick Eaves: “It’s pretty special. That’s a huge feather in his cap. He’s been doing it for a long time and doing well at it. It’s huge.”
With the win, the Stars (48-22-9) moved four points ahead of St. Louis in the race for the top spot in the Central Division and Western Conference. The Stars’ magic number to clinch both is four points.
“It was huge to come back in the third period in their building to get the two points,” Eaves said. “We needed to get up on St. Louis. These [points] were huge.”
Eaves scored the game-tying goal early in the third period, and Jordie Benn scored the game-winner with 4:58 remaining for the Stars, who overcame a 2-1 third-period deficit. Jamie Benn also scored a goal, and Kari Lehtonen stopped 24 of 26 shots in what was a physical, playoff-style game.
“That was great. I felt it was great preparation for us,” said Stars forward Antoine Roussel, who did not register any points but had a big impact in the game. “I am sure we are going to have to deal with that kind of emotion in the playoffs, and it was great that everyone answered the bell. It is positive for our trip.”
The Stars, who close out their two-game trip in Anaheim on Sunday, have won four straight and are 7-1-0 in their past eight games.
The Kings (46-27-5) missed out on a chance to extend their lead over second-place Anaheim in the Pacific Division. The Kings lead the Ducks by one point.
“I’m not quite sure how to categorize it, it’s just a loss,” Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi told lakingsinsider.com. “We just didn’t get the job done, plain and simple. When the time came down for [the Stars] to make a play and execute, get some gritty goals, they did.”
The Stars outshot the Kings 18-8 in a physical first period, including 17-3 over the final 13 minutes. The period included two coach’s challenges and plenty of quality scoring chances for the Stars, but when the teams headed to the first intermission, it was a 1-1 game.
The first coach’s challenge came at the 16:14 mark when John Klingberg put a shot on goal that ended up in the net, but the goal was waved off because Roussel, who was pushed by Los Angeles’ Luke Schenn, collided with Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick. The Stars challenged, the play was reviewed, and the initial call stood – no goal.
A little more than a minute later, the Kings scored the game’s first goal when Tanner Pearson scored off a blast from the point off the rush, giving the Kings a 1-0 lead at the 17:73 mark.
The Stars drew even at 1-1 with 2.9 seconds left in the period when Patrick Sharp set up Jamie Benn, who beat Quick with a shot from the slot. The Kings challenged this one, saying the Stars entered the zone offside before the goal. The replays proved inconclusive, so the call on the ice stood – onside and good goal.
The Stars outshot the Kings 12-8 in the second period, but Los Angeles scored the only goal. Jeff Carter knocked down a Lehtonen pass, went to the front of the net and tipped a Tyler Toffoli shot past Lehtonen to make it 2-1 Los Angeles at the 9:50 mark. The Stars came close to tying it late in the period, but a Sharp backhand shot hit the post with ten seconds remaining.
The Stars tied the game at the 5:57 mark of the third after some great work by Roussel, who lost his helmet during the shift and skated without it. The shift ended when Eaves backhanded the puck past Quick from close range to make it a 2-2 game. Roussel’s work on that shift and in the game drew praise from Ruff.
“He was fabulous,” Ruff said. “Just his work ethic on the goal, his determination to get pucks back. It was just good, hard compete. Not too often you see a guy go up the ice with no helmet. It reminded me of the 70’s.”
The Stars took the lead with 4:58 left in the game when Jordie Benn took a pass from Patrik Nemeth and scored off a shot from the right point, putting the puck past Quick, who was screened by Eaves.
“Tried to shoot as hard as I could and luckily it went in,” Benn said.
Lehtonen came up big two minutes later, stopping a quality chance by Kris Versteeg to preserve the Stars’ 3-2 lead and give Ruff his 700th win.
Saturday’s win over the Kings gave Stars coach Lindy Ruff his 700th career win. He’s one of only five NHL coaches to reach that level. Here’s a look at the top five in wins all-time in the NHL:
1.Scotty Bowman: 1,244
2.Joel Quenneville: 799
3.Al Arbour: 782
4.Ken Hitchcock: 754
5.Lindy Ruff: 700
Ruff also ranks fifth all-time in games coached at 1,408. Here are the top five in games coached:
1.Scotty Bowman: 2,144
2.Al Arbour: 1,607
3.Joel Quenneville: 1,453
4.Dick Irvin: 1,449
5.Lindy Ruff: 1,408
*Stars forward Mattias Janmark did not play the final part of the third period due to injury. Stars coach Lindy Ruff said it appears that Janmark will be out “for a little bit.”
*The Stars are 10-2-2 in their past 14 games.
*Jordie Benn’s game-winning goal was the first of his NHL career.
*Jamie Benn’s goal gave him 88 points (41 goals, 47 assists), establishing a new career-high.
*The Stars outshot the Kings 39-26 and had a 68-53 advantage in shot attempts.
*Colton Sceviour led the Stars with six shots on goal and John Klingberg was tops with eight shot attempts.
*The Stars were 1-3 on the power play and 2-2 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars won 34 of 75 faceoffs (45 percent).
*Jason Spezza won 8 of 12 faceoffs (67 percent). Radek Faksa won 8 of 17 (47 percent). Cody Eakin won 8 of 18 (44 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 4 of 13 (31 percent).
*John Klingberg led the Stars with 23:49 of ice time.
The Stars wrap up their two-game California road trip with a game against the Anaheim Ducks Sunday night. The Stars are 1-1-0 vs. Anaheim this season.
Jamie Benn – Cody Eakin – Patrick Sharp
Mattias Janmark – Jason Spezza – Valeri Nichushkin
Antoine Roussel – Radek Faksa – Ales Hemsky
Colton Sceviour – Vernon Fiddler – Patrick Eaves
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
Johnny Oduya – Stephen Johns
Patrik Nemeth – Jordie Benn
Injured: Kris Russell (lower body), Brett Ritchie (lower body), Tyler Seguin (Achilles), Jason Demers (shoulder)
Scratched: Travis Moen, Jamie Oleksiak
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.