Joe Pavelski had two goals and an assist, rookie Jake Oettinger made 23 saves and the Dallas Stars beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-3 on Tuesday night.
Pavelski, a 15-year NHL veteran, was in the right place at the right time to tip in a pair of long shots by John Klingberg, and then delivered the pass that set up Jamie Benn’s second-period goal as the Stars snapped a two-game skid and won their first on the road.
Pavelski has a team-leading seven goals and 13 points for the Stars, who improved to 5-1-1 after being forced to delay the start of the season due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
Pavelski said he and Klingberg have worked in practice on the goalie screens and tip-ins.
“(Klingberg) really wants the puck right now, and he’s finding lanes and that’s all I can ask for,” Pavelski said. “He delivered a couple of good pucks, and I got the stick on them and found goals. It’s always nice to see a tip go in.
“So much of it is getting free from a defender and finding some space and then having those pucks delivered,” he said. “You’re trying to get your stick on everything.”
Denis Gurianov, Radek Faksa and Alexander Radulov also scored for Dallas. Benn picked up two assists.
Mikhail Grigorenko had a goal and an assist, and Seth Jones and Dean Kukan got their first tallies of the season for Columbus. Joonas Korpisalo gave up five Stars goals on 23 shots before being replaced in the second period by Elvis Korpisalo, who had nine stops the rest of the way.
Dallas led 5-1 after two periods. The Blue Jackets chipped away with goals in the third from Jones and Kukan. The Stars got an empty-netter from Radulov with 1:41 left.
“They forechecked us pretty hard tonight,” Jones said. “They were in our face … and we couldn’t seem to break the puck out clean. We weren’t very crisp.”
Dallas spoiled the Blue Jackets debut of Patrik Laine, who was acquired from Winnipeg for Pierre-Luc Dubois. Laine had two shots and wasn’t a factor.
POURING IT ON
The Stars are among the top-scoring teams in the NHL, averaging more than four goals per game. Dallas has 29 goals in its first seven games, while the Blue Jackets have 27 in 11 games. Pavelski is off to the best start in his long career.
“He’s just a very intelligent hockey player,” Stars coach Rick Bowness said. “When you have the hockey sense that he has, you play longer, and you can produce a lot longer as well.”
Bowness added: “I’m happy for him that he’s had such a great start because we need the offense that he’s providing, and just as important the leadership that he’s providing.”
Laine was dealt to the Blue Jackets Jan. 23 along with Jack Roslovic from Winnipeg in exchange for the unhappy Dubois. But it took the 22-year-old All-Star awhile to make his way to the Nationwide Arena ice. Laine, who is Finnish, finally got his U.S. work visa on Friday and landed in Columbus the same day. He had to complete a 48-hour COVID-19 quarantine and also was still on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury. The team activated him before Tuesday’s game.
“It was tough at the beginning,” he said. “The legs weren’t quite there. My head definitely was not there. My hands were not there. Obviously a new system and new line mates, but I’m not here to make excuses. I wasn’t at the level I need to be for this team to be able to win.”
Oettinger, starting in place of No. 1 netminder Anton Khudobin, picked up his second NHL win after getting his first last Thursday against Detroit. The Blue Jackets have rotated Korpisalo and Merzlikins through the first 11 games. Merzlikins was in the doghouse after a pair of gaffes led to third-period goals in a 3-1 loss to Chicago on Sunday, but he didn’t allow a goal after replacing the struggling Korpisalo on Tuesday.
The teams wrap up the two-game set on Thursday. The Blue Jackets then host Carolina for two, and the Stars return home for a series with Chicago.