- Mark Stepneski, ESPNDallas.com
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Some thoughts and observations on the Dallas Stars’ 4-3 overtime win at New Jersey to open the season.
Give the Stars credit for overcoming an early 2-0 deficit to rally and win against a tough opponent and doing it on the road, where they struggled last season. It wasn’t pretty at times, but opening night games seldom are. It was entertaining though. It’s only one game but it’s a nice way to start the season. We'll see how they follow it up Saturday night against the New York Islanders.
Turning point? You could look at the timeout Stars coach Marc Crawford called after New Jersey went up 2-0 in the first period. But it may have come when Ilya Kovalchuk hit a post a short time after that. That would have made the game 3-0 and that might have been a tough deficit to overcome. Not long after Kovalchuk’s shot rang off the post, Mike Ribeiro set up Brenden Morrow, who scored to make it a 2-1 game.
It was a solid first game for Kari Lehtonen. He got off to a slow start, gave up two goals on the first four shots, but he settled in as the game moved along and stopped 25 of the last 26 shots he faced. He had some big saves in the third period when the Devils outshot the Stars 13-4.
Save of the game may have belonged to Stephane Robidas, who made a great kick save on a point blank chance by Jamie Langenbrunner in the third period with the game tied 3-3.
The Stars’ big offensive line of James Neal, Brad Richards and Loui Eriksson accounted for three goals, including the game-winner, and the second line chipped in with a goal as well, but the Stars got a solid effort from all four lines in the game. The Tom Wandell-Jamie Benn-Steve Ott trio was very effective and the fourth line of Brian Sutherby-Toby Petersen-Brandon Segal provided some good shifts.
The Richards’ line struggled on the road last season, but they combined for 3 goals, 3 assists and a plus-6 rating in this road game.
Faceoffs are an area the Stars need to improve on this season and they were impressive opening night, winning 24 of 39 (62 percent). Mike Ribeiro led the way by winning 8 of 12 faceoffs.
Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk had two assists in the game, but he had only one shot on the night and that didn’t come until the third period.
Hit of the game belonged to Stars forward Jamie Benn, who dumped Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov into the bench in the second period. Benn led the Stars with four hits.