The Dallas Stars were hoping to tighten things up defensively in Thursday night’s game against Colorado at American Airlines Center. They were able to accomplish that. They also accomplished a lot on the offensive side of things, getting two goals from Alex Chiasson and one goal and two assists from Alex Goligoski in a 5-2 win.
“I think we came out pretty quick and we looked pretty good in our defensive zone and I think that was one of the keys tonight,” said Chiasson. “Overall, it was a great effort.”
On the defensive side of things, the Stars limited Colorado to just one shot in the first period and nine through the first 40 minutes. The Avalanche ended the game with 26 shots, but only 15 came during five-on-five play.
“We gave up a dozen or so shots on the penalty killing, but I thought five-on-five we did a pretty nice job,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “There were a couple of kills and a couple of shifts where we got caught out there where we stayed inside and weathered the storm, but other than that it was a good showing.”
The Stars struck just 55 seconds into the game to take a 1-0 lead. Goligoski drove the net off the rush and Chiasson swept in to put the loose puck past Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov.
“A good pass by Ray (Whitney) lured the D in a little bit and I was trying to get it to the net,” said Goligoski. “I don’t even know how it got to Chiasson, but he was driving the net and good things happen when you go there.
Colorado didn’t register a shot on goal until 14:59 into the period and ended up with just one shot over the first 20 minutes.
The Avalanche went on a three minute power play late in the period when Ryan Garbutt picked up a major penalty for interference after mid-ice hit on Colorado’s Tyson Barrie.
“I don’t know if it was a major,” said Ruff. “Barrie wasn’t hurt on the play, but it was definitely an interference call.”
The Stars were able to kill off that penalty and then weathered a strong push by the Avalanche early in the second period before getting a goal from Cole to take a 2-0 lead. After Avalanche defenseman Andre Benoit missed a hip check attempt on Cole, the Stars forward broke in on net down the right side and beat Varlamov with a snap shot at the 9:23 mark.
Lehtonen came up big in the second, stopping all eight shots he faced including stellar saves on Alex Tanguay and Matt Duchene.
“He made a couple of big saves at the right time,” said Ruff. “There wasn’t a lot of action. You worry about a goaltender that doesn’t get a lot of action and all of a sudden he gets some big opportunities, but he was there when we needed him.”
The Stars extended their lead to 3-0 early in the third period when Goligoski scored off a blast from the left point at the 3:29 mark.
Just over three minutes later the Stars struck again, this time on the power play. Chiasson, stationed at the side of the net, bounced the puck off a Colorado defender and past Varlamov at the 6:30 mark of the third.
The Avalanche finally got a puck by Lehtonen at the 8:40 mark of the third, scoring on the power play. Jamie McGinn was able to tuck the puck into the net from close range to make it a 4-1 game.
Nichushkin rounded out the scoring for the Stars, driving the net and slipping the puck by Varlamov with 4:16 left to make it a 5-1 game.
*The Stars won 26 of 51 (51 percent) of the faceoffs in the game. Cody Eakin won 9 of 14 (64 percent). Shawn Horcoff and Vernon Fiddler both won 5 of 10 (50 percent). Tyler Seguin won 5 of 12 (42 percent).
*Seguin and Erik Cole led the Stars with four shots on goal each.
*Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon and Colorado forward Steve Downie picked up fighting majors early in the third period.
Jamie Benn-Tyler Seguin-Erik Cole
Ray Whitney-Cody Eakin-Alex Chiasson
Antoine Roussel-Shawn Horcoff-Valeri Nichushkin
Lane MacDermid-Vernon Fiddler-Ryan Garbutt
Alex Goligoski-Sergei Gonchar
Brenden Dillon-Stephane Robidas
Jordie Benn-Jamie Oleksiak
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