Apr 15, 2016 12:55 AM
Stars open playoffs with 4-0 win over Wild
The Associated Press
DALLAS (AP) Jamie Benn had a goal and two assists and Kari Lehtonen stopped 22 shots for his second career playoff shutout and the Dallas Stars beat the Minnesota Wild 4-0 in their first-round opener Thursday night.
Jason Spezza returned to the postseason with a nifty goal and added an assist for the Stars, the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.
Spezza was skating along the right side and initially faked a slap shot with just over 8 minutes left in the second period.
After skating a few more feet to near the center of the faceoff circle, he took a wrist shot and sent the puck in the upper right corner to make it 2-0.
Spezza was playing in his 57th playoff game, but first in two seasons with the Stars and his first overall since 2013 with Ottawa.
Game 2 is Saturday night in Dallas.
Spezza assisted on Patrick Eaves' power-play goal with 5:44 left, when Eaves scored on the rebound of Spezza's shot off goalie Devan Dubnyk.
Benn scored an empty-netter less than 2 minutes later.
Rookie center Radek Faksa, a first-round draft pick by the Stars in 2012, had a goal in his playoff debut early in the second period.
The Stars were without All-Star center Tyler Seguin, who practiced this week for the first time since missing the last 10 regular-season games because of a cut left Achilles tendon.
Coach Lindy Ruff said Seguin likely would have played the opener if it was a Game 7, but should make his series debut in Game 2.
Minnesota was without forwards Zach Parise and Thomas Vanek, who didn't travel to Dallas for Games 1 and 2. Parise, their top goal-scorer, is questionable for the series.
Lehtonen got the start in net over fellow Finnish goalie Antti Niemi, who has much more playoff experience, after the two each won 25 games in the regular season for the Stars.
This was Lehtonen's ninth playoff game. His previous one had been two years ago in the same building when he allowed Anaheim to score twice late in the third period before the Ducks won the first-round Game 6 clincher less than 3 minutes into overtime.
Niemi is 35-26 in 62 playoff games, including a Stanley Cup title for the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010.
Faksa scored the first Dallas goal early in the second period from the center of the ice after a pass from Ales Hemsky, playing his first postseason game since going to the Stanley Cup Finals with Edmonton 10 years ago.
Hemsky had a breakaway in the second period, but Dubnyk came well in front of the net with a diving play to poke the puck away with his stick.
Dubnyk had 28 saves for Minnesota. It was Dubnyk's fifth straight postseason loss after the Wild got swept by Chicago in the second round last year.
Dallas had a 14-1 advantage on shots before the Wild got a shot against Lehtonen in the closing seconds of the first period.
The Wild entered the playoffs after losing their last five regular-season games, and are down 1-0 in the best-of-seven series against the team that was originally in Minnesota as the North Stars before moving to Dallas in 1993 and winning the Stanley Cup six years later.
In five regular-season games between the teams, Dallas won three in overtime and had a 6-3 victory that included two empty-net goals. Minnesota had a 2-1 victory.
Notes: The Stars hadn't won a Game 1 at home since a first-round win over Edmonton in 2001. This was only their fifth playoff series opener at home since then. ... Dallas is 9-2 without Seguin this season. ... Minnesota was 0 for 2 on power plays after going 0 for 16 its last six regular-season games. ... The Stars during the regular season set an NHL record with 24 empty-netters and led the league with 265 goals overall.