The Peter DeBoer era could not have started much better for the Dallas Stars.
Dallas, behind two goals by free-agent addition Mason Marchment, three assists from Tyler Seguin and a goal by 19-year-old center Wyatt Johnston in his NHL debut, scored an impressive 4-1 victory Thursday on the road against at Central Division rival the Nashville Predators. Jake Oettinger finished with 31 saves.
“If you were going to draw it up, that’s probably what it would look like,” DeBoer said after earning his 514th NHL coaching victory. “Tough building against a real good team. I thought we had a good team effort. There were no passengers tonight. I thought everybody contributed.”
But DeBoer and the Stars have little time to savor the win because of a rematch Saturday night in Dallas.
“Our special teams were good, out goaltending was good, our young guys came into a really tough building, battled hard, competed and didn’t look overwhelmed,” DeBoer said. “There were a lot of good things. But now we’ve got to turn around and do it again on Saturday.”
Johnston became the youngest player in Stars history to score in his debut. DeBoer didn’t waste any time putting the 2021 first-round pick on the ice by inserting the 2022 Ontario Hockey League Player of the Year in the starting lineup.
“You only play your first game once so you might as well start,” DeBoer said. “He was great. He hasn’t been overwhelmed in any of the situations we’ve thrown at him. Not surprised he scored. He’s got a special element to him.”
Marchment, signed to a four-year, $18-million deal after a breakout season with the Florida Panthers, also sparkled with two first period goals as Dallas built a 3-0 lead after two periods.
Marchment’s first goal came 2:31 into the game was especially impressive to DeBoer. He moved around 2020 Norris Trophy winning defenseman Roman Josi and then went up the slot and roofed a shot over goalie Juuse Saros.
“Man, that was a big-time goal,” DeBoer said. “There were visions of Mario Lemieux there. I think he went around Josi, didn’t he? That’s … wow. I knew he was a good player, I didn’t realize how much skill he has.”
“I don’t think it could have went better,” Marchment said. “We got a big win, and I couldn’t have asked for a better start.”
Dallas finished two-for-four on the power play with Marchment and Johnston scoring.
“Obviously their power play gave them momentum; ours didn’t tonight,” Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm said. “So that’s something that we’ll have to work on.”
Nashville’s Ryan Johansen scored at the 4:53 mark of the third period to cut it to 4-1 and give the sellout crowd in the team’s home opener at least a little something to cheer about.
“We all know how great our fans are and how much we love them,” Johansen said. “It just stinks right now, but there’s a lot of hockey left and we’ll be better. We needed to be better (tonight).”
Despite the loss, the Predators still hold the early lead in the Central Division with four points as they head to Dallas for their first road game on U.S. soil. Nashville swept two games from San Jose in the Global Series in Prague, Czech Republic on Oct. 7-8 to kick off the NHL season.
–Field Level Media