Bjugstad moves up to help Panthers beat Stars 6-2
DALLAS (AP) — Nick Bjugstad enjoyed moving up in class on Saturday night.
The Florida Panthers center had a goal and an assist after moving up to the top line, and the Florida Panthers beat the Dallas Stars 6-2.
He centered a line with Jaromir Jagr and Jonathan Huberdeau because a hand injury sidelined Aleksander Barkov. Bjugstad put the Panthers ahead to stay at 2-1 in the first period.
“It was a fun night,” Bjugstad said. “It was cool playing with those guys.”
Jagr also had a goal and an assist, and Huberdeau assisted on Florida’s first two goals.
“Guys play with different guys. The lines aren’t going to be the same all year, so I thought tonight obviously (Bjugstad) had a good game. Huberdeau had a good game,” Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. “The Jagr line showed they played really well.”
Al Montoya made 33 saves to improve to 2-0-0.
“Al was excellent,” Gallant said. “He came in there tonight, first one got by him off a deflection in front, but after that he was pretty solid, shut the door and probably made seven or eight huge saves for us.”
Jamie Benn scored both Dallas goals, increasing his total to an NHL-leading eight.
Florida had lost three straight games.
“We had a little talk this morning as a team,” Bjugstad said. “The way we were playing wasn’t acceptable. The main point we want to change was work harder. We did that tonight obviously.”
The Stars had a five-game winning streak snapped that had included a sweep of four road games.
“It’s a big statement and it’s for us only,” Montoya said. “Let’s stop being that team that, you know, are we going to show up tonight? It’s on us. We’ve got great leadership and the youth is great too, so every single night there’s no reason we can’t bring it.”
Florida’s 19-year-old Aaron Ekblad and veteran Dave Bolland each scored their first goal this season in the second period.
After Ekblad’s goal at 1:22, assisted by Bjugstad, Dallas coach Lindy Ruff replaced starting goalie Kari Lehtonen with Antti Niemi.
“I don’t know if (Lehtonen) was screened,” Ruff said, “but it’s a good shot. It’s just above the pad, just below the glove.
“I was just going to see if maybe I could turn the tide a little bit.”
Lehtonen stopped eight of 11 shots; Niemi had 16 saves.
Dallas scored first at 1:59 of the first period, just 8 seconds into the game’s first power play. Benn, who entered the game tied for the league lead, scored his seventh by tipping in Tyler Seguin’s drive from the top of the left faceoff circle.
At 11:03, Lehtonen couldn’t stop Jagr’s low-angle shot over the goalie’s shoulder into the upper right corner of the net.
Florida took a 2-1 lead after Dallas’ Patrick Sharp was stopped first by Montoya and then by a goalpost. Huberdeau took away the puck in the neutral zone and passed to Bjugstad, whose shot from the high slot went in off Lehtonen at 13:18.
“It was just mistakes by us.” Benn said. “They cost us a couple early goals in the first there, and just overall we didn’t deserve to win.”
Bolland tipped Dmitry Kulikov’s shot past Niemi for a 4-1 lead at 14:59. Video replay confirmed that Bolland did not tip it in with a high stick.
Benn’s second goal pulled Dallas within two goals at 4:01 of the third, but the Panthers’ Reilly Smith and Quinton Howden scored third-period goals.
Seguin and Florida’s Jussi Jokinen each had two assists.
NOTES: Dallas entered the game 2-0-0 at home and 5-0-0 against the East this season. Lehtonen had been 3-0-0. . Benn’s power-play goal was the seventh allowed by Florida in the past five games. . The Stars played without D Jason Demers, serving the first game of a two-game suspension for elbowing Pittsburgh’s Nick Bonino on Thursday. ... During the Stars’ winning streak, they allowed only nine goals in five games. . The teams completed their season series with one win apiece, only eight games into the schedule.