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Stars roll to fifth straight win, top Penguins 4-1

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars wrapped up a perfect four-game road trip and ran their overall winning streak to five games with a 4-1 victory in Pittsburgh Thursday night.

The five-game winning streak is the longest for the Stars since Jim Nill became GM and Lindy Ruff took over as head coach.

“We are happy. We’ve been working on making some progress, and we’ve made some,” Ruff said.

The Stars (6-1-0) got another superb effort in goal from Antti Niemi, who stopped 33 of 34 shots for his third win in four starts.

“Felt good overall,” Niemi said.

After having Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin provide a lot of the offense the past two games, the Stars had some other guys chip in Thursday night. John Klingberg registered one goal and one assist and Johnny Oduya, Jason Spezza and Mattias Janmark also scored goals.

“It’s a team sport,” Oduya said. “[Benn and Seguin] are tremendous players, but they have a tough job getting on the board every night. It’s good that we can have relief from some of the other guys. We have a talented group.”

The Penguins (3-4-0) had a three-game winning streak snapped.

“It’s frustrating. We played well defensively the past couple games, and we gave up four tonight,” said Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.

Pittsburgh came out with a strong push early, but Niemi was sharp and came up with a huge save on a shorthanded breakaway by Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin 2:22 into the game to keep it a scoreless tie.

“I didn’t think we were very good at the start. They were way better,” Oduya said. “Nemo made some great saves. Otherwise, we could have been down two or three goals.”

The Stars took a 1-0 lead at 10:55 of the first when Oduya scored his first goal as a Star, putting a shot on net from the point that floated through traffic and past Fleury.

“It was one of those plays where I throw it at the net and got lucky,” Oduya said. “I’ll take anything, especially in the first period when we were on our heels a lot.”

Less than five minutes later, the Stars made it a 2-0 game with a power-play goal. Klingberg slipped a Penguins defender, skated into the slot and roofed a shot for his first goal of the season at 15:05 of the first.

“I got some ice to skate there, got pretty open and then I had a good screen in front of the net. It was a good goal,” said Klingberg.

The Stars extended the lead to 3-0 at 5:07 of the second when Spezza picked off a David Perron pass in the Penguins zone and beat Fleury with a wrist shot from the slot.

Pittsburgh’s Nick Bonino scored from the right circle at 11:20 of the second to cut the Stars’ lead to 3-1, but less than two minutes later, Janmark knocked home the rebound of a Klingberg shot to make it 4-1 Dallas at 13:02 of the second.

The Penguins had a 14-2 shots advantage in the third and had a chance to make it interesting late in the game. Just 21 seconds after Stars center Vernon Fiddler went to the penalty box for tripping, Dallas defenseman Jason Demers picked up a major and a game misconduct for elbowing Bonino. That put Pittsburgh on the power play for the final 3:12 of the game, including the first 1:39 of it with a two-man advantage that turned into a three-man advantage when the Penguins pulled Fleury from the net. But the Stars were able to kill off the entire penalty time to preserve the the victory.

“Great job,” Niemi said of the penalty killers. “They got a couple chances, but we were blocking shots and were strong at the net.”


Demers talks Bonino hit

Stars defenseman Jason Demers picked up a major penalty and game misconduct for elbowing Penguins forward Nick Bonino late in the third period. As Bonino went to check Demers, the Stars defenseman went to hit back and caught Bonino in the head. The Penguins forward left the game, and there was no update on his status.

“I just went in the corner, and I went back to counter-hit and I just mistimed it,” Demers said. “I don’t know if he was bending down to [get] the puck and I just caught him with my forearm. I hope he is all right.”

Stars coach Lindy Ruff was asked if he was concerned about Demers receiving supplemental discipline from the league.

“No, not at all,” Ruff said. “Not on that one.”


McKenzie out 2-3 weeks

Stars forward Curtis McKenzie is expected to miss 2-3 weeks with a lower-body injury, according to Stars GM Jim Nill.

McKenzie was injured last Thursday when he was hit from behind and slammed into the boards by Tampa Bay defenseman Nikita Nesterov. The NHL suspended Nesterov two games for the hit.


Notes

*The Stars went 4-0-0 the just-completed road trip and outscored their opposition 15-7.

*The Stars have scored three goals or more in six of their seven games.

*The Stars have allowed two goals or fewer in five of their seven games.

*The Stars were 1-3 on the power play and 5-5 on the penalty kill in Thursday’s game.

*The Stars have not allowed a power-play goal in the past five games and are 13-13 on the penalty kill during that stretch. They are 18-20 (90.0 percent) on the penalty kill for the season.

*The Stars are 7-23 (30.4) percent on the power play this season.

*The Stars blocked 20 shots Tuesday. Johnny Oduya led the way with six.

*The Stars won 36 of 71 faceoffs (51 percent).

*Vernon Fiddler won 7 of 8 faceoffs (88 percent). Radek Faksa won 7 of 10 (70 percent). Jason Spezza won 8 of 15 (53 percent). Tyler Seguin won 7 of 14 (50 percent). Cody Eakin won 4 of 18 (22 percent).

*Alex Goligoski led the Stars with 24:58 of ice time.


What’s next

The Stars return to Dallas for a four-game homestand that will see them play Florida, Anaheim, Vancouver and San Jose.


Stars lineup

Jamie BennTyler SeguinPatrick Sharp

Mattias JanmarkJason SpezzaValeri Nichushkin

Antoine RousselCody EakinAles Hemsky

Vernon FiddlerRadek FaksaColton Sceviour


Alex Goligoski
John Klingberg

Jason DemersJohnny Oduya

Jyrki JokipakkaJordie Benn


Antti Niemi

Kari Lehtonen


Scratched:
Jamie Oleksiak, Patrik Nemeth

Injured: Travis Moen (upper body), Curtis McKenzie (lower body), Patrick Eaves (lower body)

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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