DALLAS -- The Glen Gulutzan era started off with two points as the Dallas Stars beat the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night, 2-1, at American Airlines Center.
“It’s a relief. Now I know I can win one,” Gulutzan quipped. “I thought the guys played really good. There’s room for improvement for us, for sure in a few little things that we want to do a little bit better.”
The Stars were good on this night and it helped their new coach secure his first NHL victory.
“We know he’s a good coach and we know he’s a good fit here,” said forward Jamie Benn. “It was good to get that first win for him and Paul [Jerrard, assistant coach].”
Goaltender Kari Lehtonen came up big for Gulutzan and the Stars, stopping 37 of 38 shots.
"He had a great performance," Gulutzan said. "I thought he was the difference. Kari was our backbone tonight."
Lehtonen was particularly strong in the second period, when Chicago had 22 shots including nine on the power play.
“It was a tough task, but our penalty killing unit did a real good job,” Lehtonen said. They took the crazy chances out. They were shooting a lot but most of them were from the outside. And I was lucky there a few times, too.”
Although the Stars were outshot 22-12 in the second period, they were able to get goals from defenseman Alex Goligoski and Benn to take a 2-0 lead.
Goligoski scored 59 seconds into the second period, taking a pass from Mike Ribeiro and beating Chicago goalie Corey Crawford with a slap shot from the left point.
Benn scored late in the period, banging home the rebound of a blast from the left point by defenseman Sheldon Souray.
“It was a good shot by Souray, he’s got a hard one. I just picked up the rebound and had an open net there,” Benn said.
After allowing 22 shots in the second, the Stars tightened up things in the third period. The Blackhawks didn’t get their first shot of the period until more than seven minutes had passed. Chicago ended up spoiling Lehtonen’s shutout bid with 14 seconds remaining in the game when defenseman Nick Leddy scored from the top of the left circle.
But that was all the offense the Blackhawks could muster against the Stars, who had an impressive preseason (6-1-0) and opened the regular season with a solid win under their new head coach.
“I think it has come together pretty quick,” said Goligoski. “Guys are on the same page with the way we want to play. For periods of time we did that tonight and there were other times where we didn’t. That the way it goes. It’s a learning process. It’s a good first step. That’s a good team over there.”
And the Stars will see them again Saturday night. This time it will be in Chicago.
Notes: Benn hit breaks glass
*The game was delayed for a time early in the third period after a Jamie Benn hit on Niklas Hjalmarsson broke the glass in the corner where the Ice Girls are stationed.
“First time for me,” Benn said after being asked if had ever put someone through the glass. “I think the boys loved it over there. I don’t know how many times I can do that again.”
*Gulutzan said he was 50-50 on whether Kari Lehtonen would play a second straight night when the Stars take on the Blackhawks in Chicago Saturday night.
*The Stars debuted organ music at the game Friday night. It was used in the pregame and during the singing of the National Anthem.
*Prospective Dallas Stars owner Tom Gaglardi was in attendance in Friday's game. He also attended the team's morning skate. Gaglardi has been in town the past few days. He was at the Stars' offices in Frisco earlier in the week.
*Friday night’s attendance was 15,285