Ducks beat Dallas Stars, 5-2
The Ducks hit the halfway mark of the season with a three-game winning streak, a small accomplishment for a team that had been expected to compete for the division title but a bit of consolation after all of their missteps so far.
Saku Koivu’s backhander at 9:32 of the third period, set up when Teemu Selanne drew two Dallas defenders to him, broke a tie and Matt Beleskey scored off the rebound of a shot by Andrew Cogliano to give the Ducks a 5-2 victory over the Stars before a season-low crowd of 12,152 at Honda Center. Koivu, who had also scored in the first period, finished off his second career hat trick by scoring into an empty net with 53.7 seconds to play.
In winning three straight games for the first time since early October, the Ducks improved their record to a slightly-less-terrible 13-22-6 for 32 points after 41 games. That’s still among the worst in the NHL and well short of the 20-17-4 record and 44 points they had halfway through last season, but the Stars are a solid team and the Ducks’ performance against them should provide a better measure of where they stand than they gained in beating Columbus and the New York Islanders.
In a mild surprise, the Ducks started goaltender Jeff Deslauriers, his first NHL appearance since April 11, 2010 when he was with Edmonton—a game he lost here to the Ducks, 7-2. He was called up Tuesday because goalie Jonas Hiller (lower-body injury) wasn’t able to skate in practice and therefore couldn’t play, and because usual backup Dan Ellis is expected to miss several weeks because of a groin strain. Iiro Tarkki, who played in relief of Hiller on Sunday, was Deslauriers’ backup on Tuesday.
Deslauriers looked shaky at the start and he got some help from the crossbar a couple of times but he escaped unscathed and unscored upon.
Luca Sbisa’s rocket-like shot over Lehtonen’s left shoulder put the Ducks ahead, 2-0, at 9:22 of the second period. Kyle Palmieri set it up with a pass to Sbisa, who skated in on the left side and found the upper-right corner of the net for his second goal this season.
The Stars struck twice early in the third period to pull even. Steve Ott beat Deslauriers with a shot from the top of the left circle at 1:39 and Ott helped set up the tying goal at 2:43. Jamie Benn controlled the puck deep in the zone and passed to Ott, who skated toward the right corner and passed back to Alex Goligoski. The defenseman’s rising shot eluded Deslauriers and led Coach Bruce Boudreau to call a time out to settle his team.
Koivu and Selanne combined to give the Ducks the lead again, and Matt Belesky padded it to 4-2 before Koivu capped it with his hat-trick goal, bringing fans to their feet.
-- Helene Elliott
Photo: Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen, right, makes a save on Ducks right wing Teemu Selanne during the Ducks' 5-2 victory Tuesday. Credit: Chris Carlson / Associated Press