– by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief
DALLAS — On his NHL coaching debut, leading the team he last played for as a professional, Dallas Stars coach Jim Montgomery could not have led his team to a more perfect outcome.
Win? Check. Shutout? Check. Optimism at a high to start a campaign of redemption from last season’s disappointing finish? A definite check.
Devin Shore, Alexander Radulov and John Klingberg each scored goals in a span on 96 seconds during the second period as the Stars opened the season with a 3-0 shutout victory over the Arizona Coyotes at American Airlines Center on Thursday evening. Ben Bishop made the Stars’ tallies hold up in goal with 30 saves.
All of the players mentioned above were the main things on the mind of Montgomery, who last played in the NHL with the Stars in 2002, as he deflected any credit that might come his way after the game to make sure his charges received all the kudos for making his professional managerial debut a successful one.
“I don’t know why coaches have records. I really think players win championships, and I’ve always believed that,” said Montgomery, who coached his players at Denver University to the collegiate national championship at the Frozen Four in 2017. “I think coaches help give them opportunities to do that.
I was immediately starting to think about what we need to work on and for us to keep getting better,” Montgomery continued.
Well, before looking ahead, Stars players and fans can focus a little bit on what went right tonight, which started with the first goal of the season early in the second period, as Shore put home a rebound off a shot from the right point by recently-acquired defenseman Connor Carrick. The goal came just a few seconds after Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson hit the post with a shot that could have given Arizona the lead.
“It’s frustrating, for sure,” Ekman-Larsson said. “At the same time, I don’t think we deserved to win.”
Dallas doubled its lead just 27 seconds later, as Radulov beat Arizona’s Alex Goligoski to a bouncing puck in the offensive zone before a backhand squeezed to goalkeeper Antti Raanta and into the net for a 2-0 Stars lead. Klingberg capped off the scoring spree as he joined the rush on a 4-on-4 situation before firing a wrist shot past Raanta at 5:57 of the second period to give the Stars more breathing room.
“A couple of big ‘yeahs’ by me behind the bench on every one of [the goals],” Montgomery said. “It was a great flurry by us.”
Bishop ended up being the main star of the game for Dallas, as he stood tall when the Coyotes carried play for large parts of the second and the third, making 30 saves on his way to his 25th career shutout.
“I felt good,” Bishop said. “Just kind of take it shot by shot. Can’t start thinking I’m feeling good because that’s like the worst thing you could probably think to yourself. Did a good job of clearing the front when there was a couple of ones that squeaked by.”
Along with Ekman-Larsson’s shot in the second period that hit the post, Clayton Keller also had a shot ring off the post in the first period, with both of those shots coming when the game was still scoreless.
“We hit the post, and then…,” said Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet. “It’s the first game of the year, but it’s something you can’t let happen. We have to play quicker and initiate.”
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Thursday’s game, with all photos taken by Dallas-area photographer Ross James. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 19 pictures in total.