Brett Ritchie scored on his first shift against his former team barely a minute into the game and the Boston Bruins opened defense of their Eastern Conference title with a 2-1 victory over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night.
Danton Heinen had a power-play goal in the first period and Tuukka Rask made 28 saves in a meeting of teams that lost Game 7s in the playoffs to Stanley Cup champion St. Louis last season — the Stars in double overtime in the second round and the Bruins in the Cup finals.
Dallas' goal came less than a minute after defenseman Roman Polak had to be taken off on a stretcher after going head-first into the boards when he tried to check Chris Wagner with 12:56 remaining in the second period.
Polak barely moved while face down on the ice before being rolled onto a board and lifted onto the stretcher during a delay that lasted almost 10 minutes. The Stars said he was being evaluated at a hospital.
Roope Hintz's goal came 51 seconds later when the 22-year-old beat Rask stick side on a partial breakaway after Mattias Janmark split two defenders with a pass. Joe Pavelski got his first point with the Stars with an assist on the takeaway that started the rush.
Vezina Trophy finalist Ben Bishop gave up goals on the first two Boston shots before saving the final 18.
The 26-year-old Ritchie spent first five NHL seasons with Stars as a 2011 second-round pick, signing as a free agent in Boston following two disappointing seasons in Dallas after he scored 16 goals — nearly half his career total — in 2016-17.
Ritchie's goal came 1:09 in when Andrew Cogliano couldn't get a clearing pass from Bishop out of the zone and turned over the puck near the blue line. Charlie Coyle got an assist.
Heinen beat Bishop from the left circle about five minutes later after Alexander Radulov was called for holding.
Rask had 16 saves in the third period.
NOTES: The Stars lost a pair of forwards to injuries early, with Blake Comeau going out with a lower body injury and Jason Dickinson sustaining an upper body injury. ... Former President George W. Bush did the ceremonial puck drop. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush live in Dallas. ... The Bruins improved to 9-21-5 in season openers on the road. ... The Stars opened the season at home for the ninth straight year. They are 5-3-1 in those games.
Bruins: A four-game road trip to open the season continues Saturday at Arizona.
Stars: At St. Louis on Saturday in their first since losing Game 7 in the second round last season.