The chances have been coming recently for Stars rookie Valeri Nichushkin, but finding the back of the net has been a different story. That changed on Sunday. Nichushkin, Dallas’s first round pick (10th overall) in the 2013 NHL Draft, finally scored his first NHL goal.
Thirty seconds into the second period, Nichushkin took a drop pass from defenseman Brenden Dillon on the rush and ripped a shot past Senators goaltender Craig Anderson from the slot.
“He’s really come along. Tonight I thought he dominated skating-wise, physically,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “He made the play right off the bat at the start of the game where (Jamie) Benn could have converted and late in overtime could have finished it himself.”
The 18-year-old Nichushkin played 19:29 in the game, his highest total since the season opener against Florida. He matched his season-high with three shots on goal and had some good chances in the game.
“You look at not only this game, but a few games before it and you can see he is getting more comfortable,” said Stars defenseman Sergei Gonchar. “He’s controlling the puck a little bit more, you can see it coming. It seems like he is making nice progress.”
Line juggling; Seguin’s faceoff woes
Stars coach Lindy Ruff basically stayed with the lines he rolled out in Saturday’s practice, playing Ray Whitney and Alex Chiasson with Tyler Seguin and putting Jamie Benn and Valeri Nichushkin on a line with Cody Eakin.
The moves paid some dividends as Whitney and Nichushkin scored their first goals of the season, as did Antoine Roussel, giving the Stars goals from three different lines in the game.
Ruff did move up Benn up to the Seguin line later in the game because Seguin was struggling in the faceoff circle, winning just one of 14 draws in the game.
“I had to put Benn up there because we were getting killed in the faceoff circle,” Ruff said. “It’s tough to go 0-13. The compete there has to be a lot stronger. Scratch your nose on the ice if you have to.”
Asked what Seguin can do to improve on faceoffs, Ruff had this response.
“You are going to have to get lower, you are going to have to get stronger, you are going to have to get kicked out a couple times,” Ruff said. “It’s a one-on-one compete, it’s a form of competing. Get mad, get mad. Watch (Cody) Eakin go into the faceoff circle, and he’ll get a foot off the ice. He’s bound and determined, and you’ve got to look like that every time, especially on a night when you are having a tough night.”
*The Stars are now 2-2 in games that have been settled beyond regulation. They are 2-1 in shootouts and 0-1 in four-on-four overtime.
*The Stars are 3-2-0 vs. the Eastern Conference.
*The Stars have scored 3 third period goals in the last two games. They scored 3 third period goals in their first 12 games.
*The Stars outshot the Senators 38-36.
*Jamie Benn led the Stars with 5 shots on goal.
*The Stars were 0-4 on the power play and 3-4 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars won 24 of 63 (38 percent) of faceoffs. Rich Peverley won 6 of 9. Tyler Seguin won 1 of 14.
*Alex Goligoski led the Stars with 25:54 of ice time.
Ray Whitney – Tyler Seguin – Alex Chiasson
Jamie Benn – Cody Eakin – Valeri Nichushkin
Erik Cole – Vernon Fiddler – Rich Peverley
Antoine Roussel – Shawn Horcoff – Ryan Garbutt
Brenden Dillon – Stephane Robidas
Trevor Daley – Sergei Gonchar
Alex Goligoski – Jordie Benn
Kari Lehtonen (starter)
Scratched: Kevin Connauton, Lane MacDermid
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.