PITTSBURGH (AP) – Dallas goaltender Antti Niemi weathered an offensive storm in the first 10 minutes Thursday night. His teammates rewarded him with a big lead, and the Stars rolled from there.
Jason Spezza put Dallas up by three goals with his fifth of the season in the second period, and the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 on Thursday night for their fifth straight victory.
“I didn’t think we were really good at the start,” Stars defenseman Johnny Oduya said. “(Niemi) made some great saves. Otherwise we could’ve been down two or three goals.”
Oduya and John Klingberg scored their first goals of the season and Mattias Janmark got his third, helping the Stars finish a perfect four-game trip and improve to 6-1-0 overall.
Niemi stopped 33 shots for his third victory of the season and fourth straight against Pittsburgh. Niemi made 37 saves in a 3-0 win against the Penguins two weeks ago in Dallas.
“We knew there would be a big push,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “Our goaltender gave us a couple big ones and we responded with finding a way to score a couple.”
Nick Bonino scored his first goal for Pittsburgh (3-4-0). The Penguins couldn’t extend a three-game win streak.
Evgeni Malkin’s four-game points streak ended, as did his stretch of three straight games with a goal. The Penguins have scored 11 goals in their first seven games. They ended a five-game homestand, their longest this season, and will play six of their next seven on the road.
Marc-Andre Fleury, who started each of the Penguins’ first seven games, made 19 saves.
“I thought we came out with a lot of intensity,” Penguins’ coach Mike Johnston said. “We were generating a lot of momentum with shots, but after that I thought we tried to get too cute with the puck and we passed up shots.
“That got us into trouble because Dallas is a transition team and they stung us in transition a couple times.”
Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin entered with a combined 10 goals and 20 points during Dallas’ hot start, but didn’t factor into the Stars’ scoring Thursday.
Dallas finished seven points out of a playoff spot last season after dropping 17 of its first 26 games.
“For me, it’s about making progress,” Ruff said. “So far, we’re happy with it.”
Pascal Dupuis returned to the lineup for Pittsburgh and played his first regular-season game in nearly a year after recovering from a torn ACL and separate bouts with career-threatening blood clots.
The 36-year-old Dupuis was limited to 55 games during the previous two seasons combined, scoring six goals in 16 games last season before missing the final five months because of the blood clots. He scored once in four preseason games this season, but missed the first two weeks with a lower-body injury unrelated to the blood clots.
“I’m happy to be back, but I’m definitely not happy with the result,” Dupuis said. “We started well, but we had a little letdown.”
Niemi kept Pittsburgh off the board with a several key saves early, including a short-handed breakaway stop on Malkin.
Dallas took over from there.
Oduya’s fluttering shot from the left point made it 1-0 with 9:05 left in the first.
The Stars scored again four minutes later with a power-play goal, their seventh in as many games. Klingberg pulled the puck around Dupuis at the blueline and fired a hard wrist shot to the top-left corner.
After David Perron’s ugly turnover in his own zone, Spezza took the puck into the slot and snapped a wrist shot over Fleury’s glove hand.
Bonino scored midway through the second, but Janmark helped Dallas regain its three-goal edge less than three minutes later. Fleury denied Valeri Nichushkin’s initial redirection in front, but Janmark scored on the rebound.
NOTES: Bonino left in the third period after an elbow from Jason Demers, who was assessed a game misconduct. … Penguins’ second-round pick Daniel Sprong, who missed Tuesday’s game because of work visa issues, was scratched on Thursday. … Pittsburgh also scratched D Adam Clendening and F Bobby Farnham, while Dallas sat defensemen Jamie Oleksiak and Patrik Nemeth. … Both teams are back in action Saturday as the Penguins visit Nashville while Dallas begins a four-game homestand against Florida.
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