Stars win 4-2 over Ducks in opener matching division champs

While Adam Cracknell is one of the newcomers for the Dallas Stars, he knew Antoine Roussel wanted the puck.

Roussel scored the tie-breaking goal on the next shift, and only 22 seconds after Andrew Cogliano's second goal for Anaheim had tied the season opener early in the third period, and Dallas went on to a 4-2 victory over the Ducks on Thursday night.

"Rous made a good yell, I knew he was backdoor, and I just whacked it over there, and he's a guy that's going to work hard for that puck," Cracknell said. "And he puts it in ... and we get that lead right back."

Cracknell later scored a goal that included a secondary assist from Roussel on the Stars' third line.

"If you look at the scoresheet tonight, it was some of their foot soldiers," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said.

Lauri Korpikoski, another newcomer, and Stephen Johns also scored for the Stars, and Antti Niemen stopped 33 shots — 16 in a strange first period.

"Antti was excellent," coach Lindy Ruff said. "That first period, we had some bad decisions, gave up some odd-numbered rushes, made some uncommon bad decisions, gave up three 2-on-1s where he made real good saves."

Anaheim finished the first period with a 17-1 shots on goal advantage, and spent 8 minutes on the power play. But the game was tied 1-1 with Johns scoring on Dallas' only shot before Cogliano had a short-handed goal.

"They came out flying. I think we were just a little too wound up, all pretty juiced up and excited," Johns said. "In the second and third, we settled down and played our system and got back to the way we know how to play."

Cogliano had a breakaway after an open-ice turnover by Jason Spezza, and scored on the rebound after his initial shot ricocheted off Niemi.

"I got lucky. ... I kind of knew he wanted to go across the ice, I got a stick on it and made a shot and was able to pick up the rebound," Cogliano said.

Ducks goalie John Gibson had 16 saves in the opener matching the Western Conference's two defending division champions.

The Stars had a conference-high 109 points while winning the Central Division before losing in the second round of the playoffs to the St. Louis Blues. Anaheim was the Pacific Division champs, but went back to a familiar coach after being ousted in the first round by Nashville.

Carlyle, who led the Ducks to their only Stanley Cup title in 2007, replaced Bruce Boudreau nearly five years after being fired.

"They scored three goals right from in tight. So we were lax on that coverage. And we were 0 for 5 on our power play," Carlyle said after his first game back. "These are the frustrating ones, when you work hard and you do the things that can give yourself a chance, and then you're lax in the area where you can't be lax."

NOTES: The Stars are sticking with their two-goalie system. Niemi got the starting nod in the opener over Kari Lehtonen. Before the Stars lost in the second round of the playoffs to the St. Louis Blues, both won 25 games last regular season. ... On the helmets of Stars players were decals representing the badges of five officers slain in downtown Dallas this summer. Family members of two of the officers participated in the pregame ceremonial puck drop. The arena is only a few blocks from where the officers were shot by a lone gunman on July 7. ... Korpikoski just joined the Stars on Monday, when the eight-year NHL veteran signed a $1 million, one-year contract after being released from his professional tryout with the Calgary Flames. ... The Stars started the season with forwards Ales Hemsky (groin), Cody Eakin (knee) and Mattias Janmark (knee) on injured reserve.


Ducks: Continue their season-opening five-game road trip at Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Stars: Play at Colorado on Saturday night.