WASHINGTON (AP) – The Dallas Stars have put together a convincing argument in an effort to prove their surprising start is not a fluke.
Michael Ryder scored twice, Adam Burish had the tiebreaking goal early in the third period, and the Stars beat Washington 5-2 Tuesday night to snap the Capitals’ six-game home winning streak.
Dallas finished in the Pacific Division cellar last season and didn’t make the playoffs. Now, after the Stars’ fourth straight victory, they’re 11-3-0 — the best record in the NHL.
“This was an especially nice win,” said goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who stopped 30 shots. “I’m sure a lot of people were watching this game to see how we do against an elite team like Washington.”
It doesn’t get any easier for the Stars, who travel to Pittsburgh on Friday before concluding their road trip Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings.
“It’s a good measuring stick for us,” coach Glen Gulutzan said. “We’re trying to gauge ourselves against the league, coming into Washington and then heading to Pittsburgh and Detroit. Tonight we liked our game. It just gives us confidence moving forward.”
Burish put Dallas ahead to stay at 24 seconds of the third period, and Jamie Benn and Eric Nystrom scored in a 32-second span to make it 5-2 with 11:55 left.
“That goal by Burish got us in the lead, and we just kept rolling from there,” said Benn, who had assists on both Ryder goals.
Washington managed only seven shots in the third period and failed to score.
“It was really nice to see how we outworked them in the third,” Lehtonen said. “It was fairly easy for me. I think I had two saves at the halfway point and we scored three goals already.”
Alexander Semin and John Carlson scored for the Capitals, whose 6-0 start at home was the best in franchise history. Washington has dropped two in a row overall following a 9-2 start.
“It’s a mystery, because our group is much better than that,” Capitals forward Mike Knuble said. “We’re a veteran group and that shouldn’t happen.”
Michal Neuvirth had 31 saves for the Capitals, but he was no match for the Stars in the third period. After Burish put in a backhander, Benn scored on the power play and Nystrom hammered a wrist shot into the back of the net.
“Things are going pretty good right now,” Benn said. “I think it’s because we’re playing a simple game and playing the right way. Guys are having fun and we’re all buying in and getting big points on the road.”
Dallas has lost only one game in regulation to the Capitals in the past 20 meetings between the teams. This was the only game between the Stars and Washington this season.
Ryder put the Stars up 1-0 midway through the first period when he deflected a wrist shot by Trevor Daley past Neuvirth.
Semin tied it with a power-play goal at 15:43, but Ryder answered less than two minutes later with a dandy display of stickwork on the left side of the net. After skating around defenseman Roman Hamrlik, Ryder deked Neuvirth and scored.
Carlson tied it at 15:56 of the second period. After Marcus Johansson won a faceoff in the Dallas end, Cody Eakin sent the puck back to Carlson, who unleashed a slap shot that went through Lehtonen’s legs.
“We were fortunate to be tied at the end of the first two periods,” Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. “We talked about playing one good period (the third), then in the first 15 or 20 seconds they scored a goal. The compete level wasn’t as great as we’d like it to be.”
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