Sean Avery was expecting more hate from Dallas Stars fans

As a person who occasionally enjoys needling others here and there, I can understand the fact that New York Rangers pest Sean Avery felt some disappointment (for lack of a better word) by the relatively tepid response from Dallas Stars fans during the teams’ game last night.

After all, Avery is the kind of agitator who is paid to get under people’s skin. If he isn’t getting jeered mercilessly, it almost feels like he isn’t really doing his job.

In case you aren’t well-versed in the history of hockey irritants, Avery briefly played for the Dallas Stars after then co-general manager Brett Hull campaigned for his addition. It was pretty much a full-fledged disaster, though, so the team decided to let him go on re-entry waivers and pay half of his salary for the remainder of his contract. Avery was back with the Rangers in less than a season after leaving the 2008-09 Stars in a state of disrepair.

(Of course, that Stars team had more problems than just Avery, but the convenient thing about the pest is that you can place as little or as much blame upon him as you’d like. Dallas chose to place a ton of it on his shoulders.)

Avery discussed the lukewarm disgust from Dallas fans with Larry Brooks today.

“They didn’t even a have a sign,” Avery said, shrugging, following the Rangers’ 3-2 shootout victory over the Stars last night. “The crowd was kind of boring, I’d have to say.”

Avery was booed whenever he touched the puck in his 11:15 of work, but not with the ferocity that greeted Jaromir Jagr when he returned to Washington or Pittsburgh with the Rangers and not with the ferocity that greeted Wayne Gretzky when The Great One returned to St. Louis with the Blueshirts.

The loudest noise of the night came when Avery, who played much of the game with Artem Anisimov and Marian Gaborik, was ridden hard into the boards by Stephane Robidas approximately 4:30 into the third period.

Actually, Avery’s return was trumped by the Stars’ reacquisition of 1999 Cup-winning Star and 2003 Cup-winning Devil Jamie Langenbrunner, who came back to Dallas from New Jersey after nearly nine years. The trade was announced before the morning skate.

Then again, when you consider the fact that Stars fans haven’t exactly shown up in droves for a team that leads the Pacific Division, it shouldn’t be that surprising that they failed to raise much ire for a former villain.

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist

DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.

Fabbri’s first spoils McDavid’s debut as Blues down Oilers

Robby Fabbri, Justin Schultz
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rookie Robby Fabbri scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to help the St. Louis Blues beat Edmonton 3-1 Thursday night, spoiling Oilers rookie Connor McDavid‘s NHL debut.

Vladimir Tarasenko had the tying goal for the Blues near the midpoint of the second period, and Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining in the third. Brian Elliott finished with 23 saves.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in the first period for Edmonton and Cam Talbot had 28 saves.

McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, took 22 shifts, played 18:07 and was on the ice for Brouwer’s goal. He had two shots on goal, and struggled on faceoffs – winning only three of 13.

Fabbri, a 19-year-old forward — and McDavid’s childhood friend — was also playing in his first NHL game. The Blues’ first-round pick in 2014 was one of three rookies in the St. Louis lineup, joining defensemen Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson.

Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead late in the first period with a fluke power-play goal. He lost a face-off but when Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tried to clear the puck it bounced off Alexander Steen and past Brian Elliott. Nugent-Hopkins was credited with the unassisted power-play goal with 2:38 remaining in the period.

Tarasenko tied it a 9:10 of the second after getting loose on a breakaway with a stretch pass from Alex Pietrangelo and beating Talbot through his legs.

Tarasenko, who signed an eight-year, $60 million extension in the offseason, was the last Blues player to score in his debut.

NOTES: McDavid and F Anton Slepyshev made their NHL debuts for the Oilers. … St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina dropped the ceremonial first puck. … The attendance was announced as standing room-only 19,327.