DALLAS (AP) Patrick Sharp had a goal and an assist in his first regular-season game against his former team, leading the Dallas Stars to a 4-0 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night.
Sharp scored 11 seconds into the third period to give Dallas a 2-0 lead in what had been a game with few chances between the highest-scoring teams in the Western Conference.
The veteran forward came to the Stars in an offseason trade when the Blackhawks were trying save salary-cap space after Sharp won his third Stanley Cup in the past six seasons with Chicago. He spent 10 years with the Blackhawks.
The first of five meetings between the NHL-leading Stars and the defending Cup champions featured the league’s top three scorers in Chicago’s Patrick Kane and Dallas’ Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. And yet each team went more than 10 minutes without a shot at some point in the first two periods.
Jason Spezza had the only goal in the first 40 minutes when he passed to himself to get by defenders while crossing the blue line and slipped the puck between Corey Crawford‘s pad and the post in the second period. Sharp had an assist.
Sharp took a pass from Benn while racing up the right wing just after the third-period faceoff and beat Crawford over his left shoulder. Jason Demers had the first of his two assists on the play.
Dallas defenseman Johnny Oduya had a steady if quiet Chicago reunion compared to Sharp after signing as a free agent following two Cup titles with the Blackhawks. He had three blocked shots in 20 minutes.
The best moment for Niemi in his 35th career shutout came while protecting a 1-0 lead late in the second period. He turned away a shot from close range by former Dallas forward Ryan Garbutt, and then made a spread-eagle stop on the rebound when Andrew Desjardins tried to slip the puck under his leg.
The Stars went about 14 minutes without a shot between the first and second periods, and the Blackhawks didn’t have a shot in the final 12 minutes of a scoreless first period despite two power plays.
Dallas won on back-to-back nights against Central Division opponents to improve to 5-2-0 in such games after having the worst record within the division last season at 8-14-7. The next two games are a home-and-home against another division rival, St. Louis.
NOTES: Masters and U.S. Open champion Jordan Spieth, who lives in Dallas, dropped the ceremonial first puck. … Spezza has a nine-game point streak against Chicago going back to his time in Ottawa. … The Stars improved to 17-0-1 when leading after two periods. … Blackhawks defenseman Rob Scuderi left the game after getting hit in the face by a deflected puck with 8 minutes remaining.