“Well, you give up a 2-on-1, sometimes that happens,” head coach John MacLean said. “Greenie tried to jump up there offensively and tried to make a play. You give up a 2-on-1 and (Eriksson) made a heck of a shot on Marty there”
Tallinder was the lone defender back against Eriksson and Brad Richards. Eriksson kept the puck, netting his second of the night from the right circle.
“He scored, so you always think you could’ve done something different,” said Tallinder, who took away Eriksson’s passing option.
Said Brodeur: "It went (off the) bar and in. It's a tough play for everybody because it's pretty rare we practice that, a 2-on-1 from their zone. The guy had lots of time. Richards was well-covered, and it became almost like a breakaway. He was able to pick the corner."
The loss spoiled a strong outing by the ZIP Line of Kovalchuk, Zach Parise and Travis Zajac. They dominated the opening frame, combining for five points in the first 7:13 of play. Zajac led the way with a goal and an assist, while Parise added a goal. Kovalchuk assisted on both tallies.
"I thought they had some jump, they had some good opportunities," MacLean said. "They put the puck in the net. They looked good and hopefully they keep getting better."
Jason Arnott, who was re-acquired in June, scored in his first game as a Devil in eight years. The power-play goal was assisted by Patrik Elias, the same combination that clinched New Jersey’s Stanley Cup win over Dallas in 2000.
New Jersey came inches from running away with it early. Ahead 2-0 in the first, they nearly took a three-goal lead when Kovalchuk hit the right post behind Kari Lehtonen at 9:24. Brenden Morrow’s goal at 11:16 put Dallas on the board and back in the game.
“That’s OK,” Kovalchuk said. “Hopefully that’s going to go in next game.”
That next game comes Saturday night against the Capitals in Washington (MSG+ 2, WFAN 660 AM). The Devils return home Monday to face Pittsburgh for a 4 p.m. start.
“We can be much better,” Kovalchuk said. “We can definitely spend more time in their zone than our zone, and we can’t give up those goals in overtime."
Arnott and Elias connected on the Devils' power-play goal in the second.
MacLean was happy with his team’s effort in his regular-season coaching debut. The atmosphere at the Rock intensified in the third period, when the Devils pinned the Stars in their own zone, outshooting them 13-4.
“I thought we competed hard,” MacLean. “As I said before the game, it’s the little things that make the difference, and unfortunately we paid. The work ethic was there. We had some chances. The little mistakes we made, we’ll just keep plugging.”
Brodeur started his 16th consecutive season opener, extending his NHL record for the most with the same club. He recorded 24 saves in the contest, while Lehtonen made 27 stops for the victory.
"It felt wide open because of the excitement of the game," Brodeur said. "But when you're there, guys didn't have that much room to make plays, especially in our zone. I like that. It's just little turnovers that we created, we had the puck behind the net, we lose it, they turn around, boom, and they score. It's just little things like that we need to clean up in our game. If we want to play a little more uptempo, well you can't give up freebies."
The ZIP Line needed 2:45 to score its first goal, connecting on a 2-on-1 between Zajac and Parise. Zajac was led into the zone by a Kovalchuk feed, and tried to release the puck as his stick was clipped by Dallas defenseman Trevor Daley. The resulting off-speed shot slid underneath Lehtonen’s pads for Zajac’s first of the season.
It was 2-0 after Mark Fistric fell at the Stars’ left point, and Kovalchuk raced in with Parise on another 2-on-1 against Daley. Parise got the puck this time, snapping it by Lehtonen for his first of the year at 7:13. Minutes later, Kovalchuk’s wrister from the left circle rang off the right iron. Morrow used a Mike Ribeiro feed to make it 2-1.
“It was a good start,” Parise said. “A good first period. We were able to get a couple early. Kovy hit one off the post there, too. We had a lot of good chances. The second period wasn’t as good, then we got better in the third. We can be a little more consistent. We’re going to get scoring chances like that.”
In the second, Eriksson was all alone in front to poke in a James Neal rebound and tie the contest, 2-2, at 3:02. Arnott’s power-play blast from the top of the right circle restored the Devils’ lead. Elias carried the puck behind the net before setting up his former A-Line mate at the top of the right circle at 10:22.
But Neal struck again 1:16 later, using Greene’s defensive zone miscue to set up Brad Richards in front for a 3-3 score at 11:38.
• Arnott's goal gave the Devils a perfect 1-for-1 on the PP. ... Stars were 0-for-1. ... Richards hit the right post at 3:20 of the third. ... Devils (0-0-1) fell to 16-7-5 all-time in home openers.
• Brodeur was impressed by the energy in the crowd: "It's disappointing for (the fans) for us not to get a win, because they supported us real well," he said. "It was playoff hockey out there. First game, there was a lot of excitement building up to this game, the opener. It was fun to be a part of it."
• MacLean wasn't the only one making his debut on Friday. It was also the first NHL action for young defensemen Matt Taormina and Alexander Urbom. Taormina was paired with Colin White, and had 28 shifts for 21:38 of ice time.
"I thought it was good," Taormina said. "I thought there were a couple moments where I wasn't hard enough on the puck, but overall I think I did pretty well, made some smart plays, and didn't get myself into too much trouble."
For an opening night, the game featured a playoff-like atmosphere. Taormina's parents and brother were in town from the Detroit area.
"Yeah it was," Taormina said. "I was surprised, even some of the older guys said it was more intense than they thought it would be. It was fun. It's a big encouragement and big excitement just being here and being in front of this crowd and how loud they were at times. It was fun."
Urbom skated with Anton Volchenkov, and finished with 12 shifts for 8:57 of ice time.
"It was fun to be here," he said. "It was just amazing to play a game and I loved to be out there. It was a great crowd and was so fun to play. Too bad we didn't win, though. Maybe next time."