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Stars Rally Past Panthers; Lehtonen Injured

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars ran their preseason record to 4-1-0, defeating the Florida Panthers, 5-4, at American Airlines Center Monday night. But the Stars lost goaltender Kari Lehtonen to what coach Lindy Ruff said was a concussion with “mild symptoms.”

Lehtonen was injured early in the third period when Stars defenseman Jamie Oleksiak checked Florida forward Nick Bjugstad into the Dallas goaltender. Ruff said Lehtonen could miss a couple days.

“It’s a concussion. I am not going to hide from that,” Ruff said. “It is very mild symptoms. If he feels better tomorrow, you still have to give him a day of rest.”

Lehtonen stopped 13 of 16 shots before leaving. Anders Lindback played the final part of the third period and stopped seven of eight shots.

Seguin scores three as Stars rally

Tyler Seguin scored three goals and added an assist for the Stars, who overcame a 3-0 deficit to win Monday’s game, 5-4, over Florida. Jason Spezza had one goal and two assists, and Valeri Nichushkin notched one goal and one assist.

“We didn’t start the game well. We need to work on our starts. We haven’t been starting too well so far in the preseason,” said Seguin. “But we responded well and it was nice to get the win.”

“There were some parts of our game we weren’t sharp with,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “Once the second period hit our structure was better, we started skating better and we were firing on all cylinders.”

Florida built a 3-0 lead in the game by 2:25 into the second period on goals by Rocco Grimaldi, Scottie Upshall and Quinton Howden. But the Stars bounced back with three goals in a little more than a seven-minute span of the second to tie.

Seguin made a nice pass from behind the goal line to set up Nichushkin, who scored from close range. Spezza scored off a blast from the slot. And Nichushkin made a steal near the Florida blue line and set up a wide open Seguin, who made a nice move to slip the puck by Florida goaltender Roberto Luongo to make it a 3-3 game.

Florida regained the lead when defenseman Colby Robak scored on a shot from the point at 4:20 of the third. But the Stars answered with 6:26 left in the third when Seguin scored from the slot with the Stars on the power play. And then Seguin struck again on the power play a little more than two minutes later, taking a cross-ice pass from Spezza and tallying from the right circle to give the Stars a 5-4 lead with 4:18 remaining.

Stars load up on power play

As expected, Stars coach Lindy Ruff loaded up one power play unit with forwards Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky during Monday night’s game. Trevor Daley was the lone defenseman on that power play unit. The group scored two late power play goals – both off the stick of Seguin – to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 5-4 victory.

“I liked a lot about it,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “The puck movement was good. The player movement was good. We had guys in different places. Seguin was up top shooting; he was back door shooting. It had some real good looks.”

The Stars ended up going 2-5 on the power play in the game, and scored on their final two opportunities.

“I thought the first few times we rolled out there it wasn't too good and then we felt each other through a little bit. We were more patient over the last few power plays and didn't rush anything,” said Spezza. “Obviously Seguin has a big shot back there and they have to respect that. It opens up the plays down low. I thought it was a step in the right direction with lots of time left to get used to each other.”

Nill: It’s nice to get Eakin back

The Stars signed one of their two restricted free agents Monday, inking center Cody Eakin to a two-year, $3.8 million contract. Eakin will get $1.5 million this season and $2.3 million in 2015-16.

“It’s nice to get him back. He’s a big part of our team,” said Stars GM Jim Nill. “He’s a young, energetic player and he is a big part of our future. To get him back adds more depth. It’s nice because we have eight or nine more days of training camp, so he can get in and get used to the guys, the systems and go from there.”

Nill said the work has already begun on Eakin’s immigration paperwork and that Eakin should be in town by Tuesday night.

With Eakin’s deal done, Nill said he is hopeful that he can get the team’s other RFA, defenseman Brenden Dillon, under contract soon.

“We’re still talking. I talked to his agent a few times today,” Nill said. “I think we are going to get something done pretty close. Once the dominoes fall, everyone wants to get down here and get going.”

Notes

*The Stars outshot the Panthers 28-24.

*Tyler Seguin led the Stars with five shots on goal.

*The Stars won 37 of 72 faceoffs (51 percent).

*Jason Spezza won 13 of 20 (65 percent). Radek Faksa won 6 of 12 (50 percent). Seguin won 8 of 17 (47 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 7 of 17 (41 percent).

*Trevor Daley led the Stars with 25:18 of ice time.

*Forward Scott Glennie and defenseman Cameron Gaunce cleared waivers Monday and were assigned to Texas of the AHL. Goaltender Jussi Rynnas was placed on waivers Monday.

Stars lineup

Jamie BennTyler SeguinValeri Nichushkin
Erik ColeJason SpezzaAles Hemsky
Antoine RousselVernon FiddlerRyan Garbutt
Curtis McKenzieRadek FaksaBrett Ritchie

Kevin ConnautonTrevor Daley
Jordie BennSergei Gonchar
Jamie OleksiakJohn Klingberg

Kari Lehtonen
Anders Lindback

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.

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