DALLAS – Alex Chiasson is off to a fast start in the NHL.
Chiasson scored the tiebreaking goal at 12:07 of the second period, and Dallas defeated the Washington Capitals 2-1 on Saturday night to give Lindy Ruff his first victory as coach of the Stars.
It was the second goal this season for Chiasson, who has eight in nine career games. Still, the 23-year-old right wing said he doesn’t think much about scoring goals.
“I just play my game. That’s my main focus. As long as the team wins, that’s all I care about,” he said.
Kari Lehtonen made 25 saves for Dallas, which stopped a Capitals flurry on a power play as the game ended.
Alex Ovechkin scored in the first period for Washington. Erik Cole tied it 3:35 later.
“We had lots of chances—lots of crossbars and posts,” Ovechkin said.
Midway through the second, the Stars skated in 3-on-2 against goalie Braden Holtby. Cody Eakin took a shot and the rebound went out to Chiasson as he skated down the slot and beat Holtby.
Before joining the Stars last April, Chiasson had 36 goals in 109 games at Boston University and 14 in 66 American Hockey League games. Dallas said he became the first NHL player to score eight or more goals through his first nine games since Rob Gaudreau in 1992-93, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The only other active player who started as well was Anaheim’s Teemu Selanne.
“He finds the right place,” Ruff said. “He needs a little of that magic to rub off on the other guys.”
Ovechkin’s goal came on a power play 4:26 into the game when he took a pass from Mike Green in the left circle and one-timed the puck past Lehtonen.
It was the fourth goal in three games this season for Ovechkin, who entered tied with teammate Mikhail Grabovski for the NHL scoring lead.
The Capitals came in with a league-best 56 per cent success rate (5 for 9) on power plays. They were 1 for 3 against the Stars.
“I thought we did a nice job on their power play,” Ruff said. “Ovechkin just did what he does. He took a shot from a tough angle and he found a hole.”
About 3 1/2 minutes after that, Jamie Benn kept the puck in the Capitals end by shooting it around the boards behind the net. Tyler Seguin backhanded the puck behind him into the slot, where Cole beat Holtby.
“I thought we looked really good in our zone, breaking out the puck and in the neutral zone coming back,” Chiasson said.
Seguin’s assist was part of an early payoff from the July trade that brought him and centre Rich Peverley to Dallas from the Boston Bruins.
Peverley played for the first time since missing the preseason. He was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat.
But while he wasn’t skating, he was watching.
“I got to go through training camp and see (Ruff’s) style. I think it fits this team well. He’s a puck-possession type of coach,” Peverley said.
The Stars did much better at possessing the puck than they had in their opening game against Florida on Thursday. They led 2-1 in the third period that night, but allowed 39 shots on Lehtonen and lost 4-2.
The best chance for the Capitals came when they appeared to have a goal with 12 minutes left in the second period. The puck popped up behind Lehtonen and went into the net when Nicklas Backstrom made contact with the goalie. The play was ruled no goal on review because of goaltender interference.
“I thought once the puck goes in there, you’re allowed to go after it,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said. And I didn’t think (Backstrom) interfered with him. I think he touched the puck first and then the goalie.”
In the third period, Dallas allowed only five shots on goal.
“That’s part of the deal,” Oates said. “You’ve got to try to wear them out, wait for your turn. We get a power play and you get a chance.”
Washington’s final power play lasted 36 seconds after Seguin was called for delay of game at 19:24.
“We really didn’t sit on (the puck). We had some great zone time, and didn’t do anything foolish that would lose the game,” Ruff said.
NOTES: Peverley missed a chance for a power-play goal in the third period. He poked a rebound behind Holtby but off the left post. … Capitals wing Joel Ward found himself unable to open the door of a men’s room stall at the team hotel Saturday morning. He tweeted, “Stuck in the washroom … someone help?” According to the Washington Post, teammates Karl Alzner and John Carlson found a ladder and helped Ward climb over the top of the door.