The Dallas Stars ended the 2016-17 season on a positive note, defeating the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 in a shootout Saturday at American Airlines Center on Fan Appreciation Night.
"That was the plan and the goal; to finish off something good for the fans," said Stars center Tyler Seguin. "I think we wanted it to be entertaining."
And it was entertaining with plenty of drama. The Stars built a 2-0 lead but fell behind 3-2 in the third period. Seguin tied it with 6:16 remaining to get the game to overtime, where the Stars had some great chances. Jason Spezza's breakaway bid was denied by Colorado goaltender Jeremy Smith. John Klingberg appeared to win it with 1:08 left. But the NHL situation room initiated a review for offside, and the goal was waved off and the Avalanche, who had left the ice, had to return from the locker room.
"My apologies to Klinger there for taking away that goal," said Seguin, who was ruled offside on the play.
The Stars came close to scoring again a short time later, but Klingberg and Stars captain Jamie Benn misfired on a 2-on-0 rush, and the game went to a shootout, where Seguin scored the lone goal and Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen stopped all three shots he faced.
"It's nice to come out with a win," said Stars forward Devin Shore. "Obviously, the offside was weird; it was tough giving up the lead, but we wanted to get a win for our home crowd because they've stuck behind us through some pretty tough sledding. We managed to get that win for them, and it's a good feeling this evening."
Shore and Benn scored in regulation for the Stars. Lehtonen stopped 21 of 24 shots in regulation and overtime. The Stars ended the regular season 34-37-11 (79 points) and out of the playoffs. Not what they were expecting after leading the Western Conference with 109 points one year ago.
"You kind of wonder where it went. It seems like a wasted opportunity," said Benn. "At the start of the year we had high expectations for this team, coming off a pretty good season the year before, and it didn't live up to its expectations."
Colorado, which fell to 22-55-4 on the season, got a 42-save effort from Smith. The Avalanche finish their season Sunday in St. Louis.
"It was kind of a strange finish to that one," Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. "I thought that Smith played really well for us tonight. He probably deserved a better fate if we could have played a little better in front of him."
Lehtonen came up with a couple good saves on quality chances on Avalanche forward Rocco Grimaldi to keep Colorado off the board early, and the Stars took a 1-0 lead at the 13:40 mark. Greg Pateryn put a shot on net, the puck got behind Smith, and Shore pushed it over the goal line for his 13th goal of the season.
The Stars made it 2-0 just 37 seconds into the second period with a power-play goal. Klingberg set up Benn who scored into the open side of the net from close range.
Colorado cut the lead to 2-1 late in the second period. Tyson Barrie's shot from the point deflected into the net off Mikko Rantanen at the 17:35 mark.
Colorado tied at it at 5:37 of the third on a goal by Gabriel Landeskog who tipped in a shot from the point off the stick of Francois Beauchemin. The Avalanche took a 3-2 lead by cashing in on their first power play of the game. Nathan MacKinnon deflected in a Barrie shot from the point at 8:24 of the third.
The Stars tied the game 3-3 at the 13:44 mark of the third period when Seguin tipped in a Esa Lindell shot from the point. That sent the game to overtime and then the shootout, where Seguin and Lehtonen came up big for the Stars.
Gurianov makes NHL debut
Forward Denis Gurianov, the Stars first-round pick (12th overall) in the 2015 Draft, made his NHL debut Saturday. He played 13:06, had three shot attempts, one hit and three blocked shots in the game.
"It felt good. I was happy to play and get a chance," Gurianov said.
Gurianov, Gemel Smith, and Mark McNeill were the starting forwards in the game for the Stars.
"Nervous, for sure," Gurianov said. "Of course, first shift I have puck, and it's like, wow."
Said Stars coach Lindy Ruff: "For a first game, I think he got a really good feel for the speed of the game. I think some of those plays where he got wound up a little bit down the wing, I think he would have been on in the American League maybe. I think he realizes that everyone is mobile and fast here and I think he's just got to get stronger and a little quicker with the hands. I thought he was a little bit nervous to make a play but it's his first game, and it was a good showing for him."
*The Stars finished the season 6-11 in games that went beyond regulation. They were 1-2 in shootouts and 5-9 in three-on-three overtime.
*Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin both scored in the game and finished tied for the team lead in goals (26).
*Seguin led the Stars with 72 points (26 goals, 46 assists).
*The Stars outshot the Avalanche 45-24 and had a 65-52 advantage in shot attempts.
*Patrik Nemeth led the Stars with eight shots on goal and eleven shot attempts.
*The Stars were 1-1 on the power play and 0-1 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars won 35 of 64 faceoffs (55 percent). Codey Eakin won 13 of 23 faceoffs (57 percent).
*John Klingberg led the Stars with 23:52 of ice time.
The Stars have exit interviews scheduled for early next week, and then it's onto the offseason, which is expected to be busier and more intriguing than usual because of the addition of the Las Vegas franchise and the upcoming expansion draft.
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Jason Spezza
Devin Shore - Cody Eakin - Remi Elie
Jason Dickinson - Radek Faksa - Adam Cracknell
Denis Gurianov - Gemel Smith - Mark McNeill
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Julius Honka
Patrik Nemeth - Greg Pateryn
Scratched: Stephen Johns, Jamie Oleksiak
Injured: Brett Ritchie (charlie horse), Justin Dowling (concussion-like symptoms), Curtis McKenzie (eye), Ales Hemsky (hip), Antoine Roussel (hand), Patrick Sharp (hip), Jiri Hudler (groin), Mattias Janmark (knee)
This story was not subject to 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.