The Dallas Stars returned Sunday night to the American Airlines Center for their first preseason action since 2011 to give the modest home crowd a glimmer of what their high profile off-season acquisitions can do.
They did not disappoint. Tyler Seguin had a goal and an assist and rookie Valeri Nichushkin scored twice, including a breakaway, though the Stars fell to the Blues 5-4 in a shootout after Benn, Nichushkin and Seguin all failed to score.
Here's a recap of the action and I'll be back with observations in a bit.
The Stars drew a penalty on Patrik Perglund 19 seconds in the frame, then scored 77 seconds in when a tic-tac-toe passing play from Tyler Seguin, to Alex Chiasson, to Erik Cole ended with a shot over Jake Allen's shoulder.
Kevin Connauton would add a second less than three minutes later when his wrist shot from the blue line wafted past Allen, and the Stars looked ready to cruise with a 2-0 lead and a 4-1 shot advantage nearly five minutes in.
St. Louis would push back, working hard on the fore-check, turning pucks over and pressuring to the tune of 12 unanswered shots and two Maxim Lapierre goals. One a deflection and one a rebound, neither of which Dan Ellis could have done much about. Two Alex Chiasson penalties (tripping, delay of game) added to the Stars' woes.
A holding penalty on St. Louis righted Dallas' ship and Erik Cole found Tyler Seguin staring at a gaping net with the puck on his stick after a slick cross-ice pass.
Dan Ellis' night ended midway through the frame, having stopped 16 of 18. Jack Campbell entered and was welcomed quickly when Sebastian Wannstrom fired a sharp angle shot from the corner that surprised him to knot the score at three.
Rookie Valeri Nichushkin would restore Dallas' lead with just 28 seconds remaining, slamming home a loose puck in the slot, but the glory belonged to Luke Gazdic, who did the hard work to turn the puck over and initiate the attack.
Nichushkin picked up the third where he left off, driving hard to the net and just missing out on another goal after Shawn Horcoff sent a puck at the net that came right to his stick. Ruff would leave the line out there at the whistle and they were out-hustled on the following shift as Keith Aucoin scored on a rebound attempt after an initial Campbell save.
Not to be out-done, Nichushkin found himself on a breakaway a few minutes later and put Dallas back on top after an odd hesitation move to the backhand.
The see-saw continued, however, and Adam Cracknell deflected a point shot past Campbell to knot things at five.
The teams traded odd-man rushes and Tyler Seguin had the game on his stick off a Jamie Benn pass but couldn't pull the trigger. Shawn Horcoff and Cody Eakin had a close call as well, then Nichushkin, after a bad giveaway, drew a penalty with 33 seconds left, but the Stars couldn't convert on the man advantage.
Jamie Benn - post, forehand
Tarasenko - scores forehand high glove side (winner)
Tyler Seguin - misses backhand, blocker side
Shattenkirk - miss forehand
Valeri Nichushkin - Miss backhand, glove side
Back in a bit with some observations...