For the second time this season the Dallas Stars overcame a tough call and came away with two points on the road. After officials missed a hand pass on a New Jersey goal that tied the game, the Stars bounced back to defeat the Devils, 3-2, in a shootout Friday night.
It was just last week that the Stars had a game-tying goal waved off in Pittsburgh and responded by scoring twice in the final three minutes to win in regulation.
“We have faced some adversity in games and we’ve been able to keep our composure,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “That Pittsburgh game was a good example. And then tonight, as a coach, it is something you like to see. We just went back to work.”
The Stars shook off a slow start and 1-0 deficit, dominating the game from the middle of the first period on to take a 2-1 lead. But officials missed a hand pass by Patrik Elias that set up a goal by Damian Brunner that tied the game in the third. The play was reviewed for the net possibly being off its moorings, but the hand pass was not reviewable.
“It was good composure by the coach. The coach kind of sets the tone on stuff like that,” said Stars center Jason Spezza. “The whole rink knows they got the call wrong. I’m sure the refs know they got it wrong once they see it. It’s a little bit silly they can’t overturn it. But Lindy showing his composure makes us show our composure. We just have to push forward and try to find a way to win. There’s no point in getting to upset about it, you still have a game to play.”
The Stars didn’t crack after the call and took the game into overtime and then the shootout, where Spezza and Jamie Benn both scored and Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen stopped Mike Cammalleri and Jaromir Jagr. Benn and Patrick Eaves scored in regulation. Lehtonen stopped 25 of 27 shots to improve to 4-0-2 on the season.
The victory extended the Stars’ points streak to five games (4-0-1) and their winning streak on the road to three games. They are now 4-1-2 on the season. The Stars who had surrendered 83 shots on goal in their previous two games, were tighter defensively in New Jersey, outshooting the Devils 37-27.
“Tonight was our best game overall. It looked a lot like how we played last year,” said Ruff. “We eliminated a lot of the mistakes. We got the puck out and put some pressure on in the neutral zone. We were a lot more diligent with assignments.”
The Devils saw their winless streak hit four games (0-2-2) and their overall record fall to 3-2-2. They lost their 18th straight shootout.
“We were fortunate to get the point. They were the better team most of the game,” said Devils coach Pete DeBoer. “Not much [can be said about the shootout]. Yes, you have to score. You’ve got Benn and Spezza coming down for them as the first two shooters. It’s tough with the two shots those two guys made. We’ll just pick up and move on. I’m not concerned about it. I know we are going to win some shootouts.”
The Devils came out with a strong push, controlling play for the first ten minutes and scoring the only goal of the first period. After a Jamie Oleksiak turnover, Devils defenseman Eric Gelinas scored off a shot from the left point at the 4:21 mark. Lehtonen was sharp in the first, making big saves on Cammalleri and Stephen Gionta or the Stars could have been down by more.
The Stars started to take control of play midway through the first and it carried over into the second, where they scored twice to take a 2-1 lead in the game. Ales Hemsky, who played his best game of the season, drew the game’s first power play early in the period and the Stars cashed in one second before the power play expired. Spezza and Tyler Seguin forced a turnover behind the New Jersey net and Seguin set up Benn, who roofed a shot from close range to tie the game at 4:28 of the second.
The Stars took the lead at the 15:48 mark when Eaves put a shot on net from the right circle that beat Devils goaltender Cory Schneider short side and Dallas had a 2-1 lead. That set the stage for New Jersey’s controversial game-tying goal in the third and the Stars bouncing back to take the game in the shootout.
“That was as close to a four-line game as we’ve played,” said Ruff. “We didn’t give up a lot of the big opportunities and we did have a couple of breakdowns, Kari made big saves for us.”
Hemsky shines, Jokipakka makes debut
*Stars forward Ales Hemsky, who has had a hard time getting on track early in the season, played his best game Friday night. He didn’t factor in the scoring, but he had some great chances and led the Stars with eight shots on goal.
“I thought he was fabulous,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “Skated well, owned the puck. He was probably our best player. He didn’t get anything on the score sheet, but you play like that and you are going to get rewarded.”
*Defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka made his NHL debut Friday night. He played 13:34, had one shot on goal, one hit and was a minus-one.
*Stars forward Antoine Roussel and Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador dropped the gloves in a spirited fight in the second period.
*The Stars outshot the Devils 37-27.
*Ales Hemsky led the Stars with eight shots on goal.
*Stars captain Jamie Benn ran his goal scoring streak to five games.
*Stars forward Tyler Seguin ran his points streak to five games (5 goals, 6 assists) with an assist on Benn’s goal.
*Stars center Jason Spezza ran his points streak to four games (1 goal, 7 assists) with an assist on Benn’s goal.
*Patrick Eaves’ goal was his first of the season and his first as a Star.
*The Stars were 1-2 on the power play.
*Dallas was not shorthanded in the game.
*The Stars won 36 of 71 faceoffs (51 percent).
*Vernon Fiddler won 10 of 17 draws (59 percent). Cody Eakin won 8 of 14 (57 percent). Spezza won 11 of 22 (50 percent). Shawn Horcoff won 4 of 10 (40 percent).
*Defenseman Alex Goligoski led the Stars with 26:31 of ice time.
Jamie Benn – Jason Spezza – Tyler Seguin
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Ryan Garbutt
Patrick Eaves – Vernon Fiddler – Ales Hemsky
Erik Cole – Shawn Horcoff – Colton Sceviour
Alex Goligoski – Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn – Brenden Dillon
Jyrki Jokipakka – Jamie Oleksiak
Scratched: D Kevin Connauton, LW Curtis McKenzie
Injured: RW Valeri Nichushkin (groin/hip), D Sergei Gonchar (ankle), D Patrik Nemeth (arm laceration)
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.