DALLAS (Sports Network) – Kari Lehtonen came moments away from a shutout and finished the game with 37 saves as the Dallas Stars took a 2-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in the opener for both clubs.
Jamie Benn and Alex Goligoski both scored a goal for the Stars, who finished last season ninth in the Western Conference, just two points back of the final playoff spot.
Nick Leddy scored late for the Blackhawks, who lost to Vancouver in the first round of the playoffs last season. Corey Crawford stopped 31 shots in the loss.
After a scoreless first period that saw Crawford stop 13 shots and Lehtonen turn aside nine, the Stars made it a 1-0 game just 59 seconds into the second.
“We did a lot of good things tonight so we can keep our heads up,” said Crawford. “We just have to get ready for tomorrow and hopefully get two points.”
A bad clearing attempt saw Mike Ribeiro get the puck along the left boards. He spied Goligoski loose in the slot and passed it over for a one-timer that sailed past Crawford.
“I saw he had it and when he has it I always just try to get open,” said Goligoski. “Their wings were cheating a little there and I was able to get into a good position.”
Later in the middle frame, the Stars took a 2-0 lead as a big blast from Sheldon Souray at the left point was stopped, but Benn was in front to clean up the rebound with 3:58 left in the frame.
Lehtonen stopped 22 shots in the second period and was on his way to a shutout, but Leddy blasted a shot from the left point that found its way through a screen with 14 seconds left to account for the final score.
This was the opener of a home-and-home set for the two squads as they will meet in Chicago on Saturday…Dallas took three of four from Chicago last season…Chicago was 0-for-4 on the power play while Dallas went 0-for-2.