Niemi makes 28 saves, Stars beat Jets 3-2
DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi made 28 saves, but more important than how many he made was when he made them in the Dallas Stars’ 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night.
“It wasn’t that he was tested in bunches,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said, “but he had to make some huge saves for us. Breakaway saves, there was a couple game-changers.”
The most important might have been two saves by Niemi in the latter half of the first period while the game was still 0-0.
He stopped a breakaway by Alexander Burmistrov and a shot by Mark Scheifele on a 2-on-1.
Seconds later, the Stars had a 2-on-1. Curtis McKenzie passed back into the slot to Brett Ritchie, who sent a wrist shot past Michael Hutchinson at 14:37 and Dallas never trailed again.
The win salvaged the last game of Dallas’ 1-1-1 home stand. Winnipeg lost its second straight and fourth in five games.
Patrick Eaves and Tyler Seguin also scored for the Stars while Hutchinson had 23 saves.
Stars rookie center Devin Shore had two assists.
The goals against Niemi came in the closing seconds of the second and third periods. Joel Armia beat him to the puck to score with 5 seconds left in the second, and Scheifele put in a rebound on the power play with 9 seconds to play in the third.
Dallas spent most of the first 5 minutes of the second period killing two penalties.
The teams skated 4-on-4 for 35 seconds before Eaves scored his 100th career goal from high in the slot at 5:02.
“It’s pretty cool,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate to play with a lot of good players. More importantly, it helped towards a divisional win.”
Eaves had returned after missing a game with a lower-body injury. He added experience to an injury-riddled Dallas front line weakened even more because Jason Spezza sat out with a lower-body injury.
Shore passed from behind the net to set up Eaves’ goal. Another assist went to center Justin Dowling, in his NHL debut after playing 324 games in the minor leagues. He was recalled from Texas of the AHL to fill in for Spezza.
“I thought we had a great night out of (Dowling’s) line,” Ruff said. “We got a good night out of the Shore line.”
Armia brought Winnipeg within 2-1 by taking the puck away from Niemi behind the net to score his first goal on a wraparound. Niemi had stopped two other good chances by Armia earlier in the second.
“Joel was moving his feet with the puck and when he does that, boy, he creates some things,” Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said.
Seguin scored at 7:27 of the third period with a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle.
NOTES: Dallas had been 1 for 13 on the power play during the 10 previous periods before Eaves’ goal. Winnipeg’s challenge that the Stars had interfered with Hutchinson was denied. “They push our defenseman right on top of me and it’s a bang-bang play,” Hutchinson said. “I don’t know why it wasn’t goalie interference.” ... Winnipeg’s power play had been 1 for 18 in the last five games before Scheifele’s goal. ... After being outscored 11-1 in the second period of their first five games, the Jets dominated the middle period. They outshot Dallas 13-7 and won 12 of 17 faceoffs. ... Armia had scored two goals in Winnipeg’s last visit to Dallas, a 6-3 win on Feb. 25. ... The Jets have pulled their goalie in the closing minutes in all six games this season.
Jets: They will host Dallas on Thursday in the back end of two home-and-home games.
Stars: Dallas will travel to Winnipeg to face the Jets on Thursday.