It wasn’t exactly a must win game for the Dallas Stars Friday night, but they really needed a win, and they got it thanks to big nights from a couple of their young players and big shootout goals from a couple of their star players.
Brenden Dillon and Antoine Roussel scored their first NHL goals and Jamie Benn and Jaromir Jagr tallied in the shootout as the Stars defeated the Phoenix Coyotes, 4-3, Friday night at American Airlines Center. It was the first game of a home-and-home set between the Stars and Coyotes, who play again Saturday in Arizona.
The victory snapped a four-game winless streak for the Stars, who improved to 3-4-1 on the season.
“It was big. First of all it’s a division rival, we’ve got them again tomorrow night, too,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “And there are points on the line all the time so I think the win itself was best for our confidence and it gives us something to build off of.”
Roussel and Dillon helped stake the Stars to an early 2-0 lead in the game. Roussel, who was playing in his first NHL game, scored on a breakaway midway through the first period, roofing a backhand shot over Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith 9:53 into the game.
“That was fun. That was my third shift I think, and I was excited about it,” said Roussel, who won six of seven faceoffs in the game. “I was always dreaming of getting a goal in my first shift, but it came on my third shift instead. So that’s not too bad. It was just perfect.”
“That’s the kind of game we want. We want the energy, he was good in the faceoff circle,” said Gulutzan. “I thought the energy he brought helped our club and the goal he scored gave us a little lift.”
Dillon, who assisted on the Roussel goal, scored 2:10 later when he beat Smith with a blast from the left point.
“Obviously, pretty excited,” said Dillon, who got in a fight later in the game to pick up the Gordie Howe Hat Trick. “The puck squirted out, we had a good screen in front, I saw an opening to take a shot and luckily enough, it went in.”
Phoenix bounced back to tie, getting a goal from Radim Vrbata just 1:57 after Dillon’s goal and then a goal from Martin Hanzal 45 seconds into the second period.
Stars forward Michael Ryder put the Stars up 3-2 with 5:46 left in the second, scoring on a shot from the left circle. But Hanzal scored late in the second off the rush to tie.
That set the stage for entertaining, but scoreless overtime and then the shootout. Benn kept the Stars alive by scoring in the third round of the shootout. Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen stopped Antoine Vermette in the top half of the fourth round, and then Jagr scored in the bottom half of the fourth, his shot getting through Smith and then trickling over the goal line to give the Stars the victory.
“We’ll take the points for sure. They’re a big two for us moving forward,” said Gulutzan. “I thought it was a back and forth game. We still have areas we have to clean up in our game, the turnovers. We need to play the game the right way. I think that’s important for us moving forward. There’s some clean up that still has to happen here regardless of the points.”
For the Coyotes, they fell to 2-4-2 on the season and 0-2-1 on the road.
“There are some areas of our game that we can still clean up,” said Phoenix coach Dave Tippett. “I thought our team competed really hard. We hung around the game and gave ourselves some chances to win, but in the end we gave the point away. We’ll take that point, put it in the bank, and we go home tomorrow. On home ice, we need two points tomorrow.”
Notes: Brenden Dillon Gordie Howe Hat Trick
*Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon registered a Gordie Howe Hat Trick in the game, picking up a goal, an assist and a fight. He’s the first defenseman in Dallas Stars history to do it. The last Star to have a Gordie Howe Hat Trick was Brenden Morrow, who accomplished the feat on Jan. 23, 2006 vs. Phoenix.
*Defenseman Jamie Oleksiak made his NHL debut Friday. He played 15:32 in the game, had one shot, one hit and one blocked shot.
“I thought he played a pretty solid game,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “He’s a big guy, he got guys to the wall. I thought he did a good job blocking shots in front of our net, and getting people out of the way. And you can see that he can move. I thought it was a good first game for a young defenseman.”
*C Derek Roy missed his fourth straight game with a groin injury. Gulutzan said there is an 80 percent chance Roy can play Monday in Colorado.
*Philip Larsen, Aaron Rome and Tom Wandell were healthy scratches.
*Attendance for Friday’s game was 18,101.