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Blackhawks Drop Season Opener

Dallas Stars left wing Vernon Fiddler (38) and Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Sean O'Donnell (6) fight for control of the puck in the first period during an NHL hockey game on Friday, Oct. 7, 2011, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Sharon Ellman)

Dallas Stars left wing Vernon Fiddler (38) and Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Sean O’Donnell (6) fight for control of the puck in the first period during an NHL hockey game on Friday, Oct. 7, 2011, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Sharon Ellman)

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DALLAS (AP) – Kari Lehtonen stopped 37 shots, Alex Goligoski and Jamie Benn scored second-period goals, and the Dallas Stars gave coach Glen Gulutzan a victory in his NHL debut, holding off the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 on Friday night in the opener for both teams.

Lehtonen was at his best in the second period, making a series of sliding saves while Chicago built a 22-12 shots advantage, a total pumped up by three power plays.

Lehtonen came up with a key stop with about 5 minutes left on Jamal Mayers’ short-handed attempt from the left circle, and denied Patrick Sharp on a solo rush with 4 minutes remaining.

With goalie Corey Crawford on the bench in favor of a sixth attacker, Nick Leddy scored from the left circle with 13.6 seconds to play as Chicago avoided the shutout. Crawford made 31 saves.

The teams will meet again Saturday night in Chicago.

Goligoski opened the scoring at 59 seconds of the second period on a one-timer from the high slot off a feed from Mike Ribeiro.

Benn made it 2-0 with 3:58 left in the second while the teams skated 4 on 4, backhanding the rebound of Sheldon Souray’s slap shot past Crawford.

Benn contributed a crunching hit on Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson with 14:51 left in the game, checking Hjalmarsson into the corner with such force that the collision broke a pane of glass.

Crawford gave the Blackhawks an early lift when he denied Benn on a breakaway just over 2 minutes after the opening faceoff. Crawford kept the game scoreless when he stopped Benn again from close range in the final minute of the first period.

NOTES: The Stars went 6-1 in the preseason. Chicago was 2-4-1 in exhibition games. … F Adam Burish (groin), D Nicklas Grossman (hip) and D Adam Pardy (ribs) were out for Dallas. Chicago was without F Ben Smith (concussion), C Dave Boland (upper body) and LW Viktor Stalberg (lower body). … The Stars went 3-1 against the Blackhawks last season, but Dallas lost its final regular-season game at Minnesota, allowing Chicago to take the eighth and final Western Conference playoff berth. … Canadian businessman Tom Gaglardi, the front-runner to become the new owner once the Stars emerge from bankruptcy, watched the game from a luxury suite. … Former Stars C Mike Modano received a standing ovation when he was shown on the big screen sitting in a luxury box during a break in the second period.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)