Dallas Stars' center Cody Eakin (20) and Arizona Coyotes' center Antoine Vermette (50) fight for the puck in the first period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Sharon Ellman)
Sharon Ellman
December 31, 2014

DALLAS (AP) Brett Ritchie woke up Wednesday as a right wing for the AHL's Texas Stars. Several hours later he scored his first NHL goal.

Ritchie scored in his NHL debut, starting off the Dallas Stars' 6-0 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday night.

''I didn't have a night to sleep on it. I only found out at 12 p.m.,'' Ritchie said. ''Obviously, to get a goal halfway through the game there settled me down as well.''

Kari Lehtonen made 32 saves for his 30th shutout, and third this season.

Cody Eakin and Jamie Benn each had a goal and an assist, and Alex Goligoski assisted twice as the Stars had their biggest margin of victory this season.

Arizona's three-game winning streak ended hours after the NHL board of governors approved IceArizona's sale of 51 percent of the team to Philadelphia hedge fund manager Andrew Barroway. In October, IceArizona agreed to sell the majority stake to Barroway for $155 million.

The game was scoreless in the second period when Ritchie checked Arizona's Sam Gagner into the right-wing boards. Ritchie then skated to the front of the net, took a pass from Travis Moen and put the puck past Coyotes goalie Devan Dubnyk at 7:22.

It was a big day for Ritchie's family. His parents were in Montreal watching his brother Nick play for Canada in a 5-3 victory over the United States in the World Junior Championship.

''It's great to see him get on the board, get us the game-winning goal,'' Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. ''He's a big body, protected the puck well.''

Ritchie was credited with five hits, and nearly scored another goal on a second-period breakaway.

Ruff said: '' You couldn't write a better script for a first game. I guess you could have crossed the T with a breakaway goal going in.''

Dallas' Colton Sceviour scored at 8:25 of the second for a 2-0 lead.

Benn, Eakin, Ales Hemsky and Ryan Garbutt all scored third-period goals.

Ruff said it was probably the Star' best game this season.

''Every line, every set of defense, big saves. Special teams were good,'' he said. ''We defended the way we needed to defend, really moved the puck well and skated well.''

Lehtonen's greatest challenges came in the second period.

''The game was still 0-0,'' Lehtonen said. ''There was a couple of good saves there. There was the one 2-on-1, I was able to make two saves and cover the rebound.''

The Stars won their third straight, and seventh in eight games.

At 1:19 of the third period, on Dallas' second power play, Benn's pass across the goalmouth hit Arizona defenseman Connor Murphy and went into the net.

''Garbage,'' Benn called the goal.

Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said: ''They got a lucky one off a skate, and it was all downhill from there.''

Eakin's goal was on a slap shot from the right circle. Hemsky scored from higher in the right circle, and Garbutt skated in from the left and shot over Dubnyk's left shoulder.

NOTES: The Stars won by three goals twice before this season. ... Ritchie was Dallas' second-round draft pick in 2011. He scored five goals Saturday and Sunday for the AHL's Texas Stars, giving him 11 in 22 games. ... Benn's assist ended a three-game slump when he had no points. His power-play goal was the first against the Coyotes after 10 straight successful penalty kills. ... The Stars are 7-2-1 in their last 10 home games, since starting the season 1-5-4 on home ice. ... Dubnyk had stopped 91 of 95 shots during the three-game winning streak. Arizona's Shane Doan has played more games (103) against the Stars than against any other team. ... Hemsky's four goals all have come in the last 12 games. ... Dallas killed three penalties, improving the Stars to 7 for 9 during their winning streak.

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