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Carlsson scores in an impressive NHL debut, but the Ducks lose to Stars

Jamie Benn Dallas Stars Jamie Benn - The Canadian Press

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Leo Carlsson scored in the third period while making an impressive NHL debut in the Anaheim Ducks' 3-2 loss to the Dallas Stars on Thursday night.

Joe Pavelski had a goal and an assist for the Stars, and Mika Heiskanen got credit for the tiebreaking goal with 13:13 to play when Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler kicked a centering pass under goalie John Gibson.

Carlsson, the 18-year-old Swede picked second overall by Anaheim in June, hit the ice to cheers from a Honda Center crowd eager for the start of a new era after five straight non-playoff seasons. Carlsson's play improved as the game went on, and the cheers became a standing ovation when he confidently fired home his first goal on the rush off Troy Terry's pass.

“The first two shifts, I was a little bit nervous, a lot of tension,” Carlsson said. “After that, I was good.”

Terry had a goal and an assist, and Gibson stopped 21 shots. The Ducks are impressed by Carlsson, who already stands out after earning an immediate NHL opportunity with strong play in training camp.

“Doesn't look like it's his first game as an 18-year-old,” Terry said. “I don't feel like his skating was talked about much (around the draft), but his speed is phenomenal for how big he is, and his hands, and his brain. He makes life easy for me as a winger. Not putting too much pressure on him. I'm just proud of how his first game went. He's a special player. ... There's really not anything he's not good at.”

With his parents watching from the stands, Carlsson immediately took over as the Ducks' first-line center, flanked by Terry and Trevor Zegras. The lanky playmaker looked comfortable and dangerous from his opening shift, showing his smoothness on the puck and deceptive skating speed.

Carlsson, who missed the Ducks' first two games because of minor injury, is the fourth member of the 2023 draft class led by Connor Bedard to play in the NHL this season. Bedard, Carlsson and No. 3 pick Adam Fantilli of Columbus each scored a point in their NHL debuts, but Carlsson was the only one with a goal.

Ducks defenseman Tristan Luneau also made his NHL debut with his parents in attendance. The 19-year-old Canadian — the 53rd overall pick in 2022 — was named the Quebec major junior league's top defenseman last spring before he surprisingly made Anaheim's roster out of training camp.

“I thought they were both terrific,” Anaheim coach Greg Cronin said of Carlsson and Luneau. “The first period, (Carlsson) was a bit measured. The second, he was too measured, so we goosed him a bit. I thought every shift in the third period, he was really visible.”

Roope Hintz scored a power-play goal and Jake Oettinger made 27 saves for Dallas.

“It was important to win, that’s the bottom line,” Stars coach Peter DeBoer said. “It’s early in the season, and it’s not all going to look great. You have to give them credit, they were ready to play. The scouting report on them is they’re playing really hard and they’re putting a lot of pressure on, and they did exactly that in the first period. I wish we would’ve handled it better.”

The young Ducks had a strong first period, and Terry scored less than five minutes in on a long rebound of Zegras' slap shot while Carlsson screened Oettinger in front. Pavel Mintyukov, the Ducks' promising teenage Russian defenseman, earned his first NHL assist after getting his first goal last Sunday.

Pavelski set up Hintz for the Stars' first power play goal of the season in the second before scoring his own man-advantage goal late in the period.

Pavelski's 451st career goal tied him with Patrick Kane for the sixth-most NHL goals by a U.S.-born player. He also passed Doug Gilmour for the fourth-most goals scored by a player picked in the seventh round or later, trailing only Luc Robitaille, Peter Bondra and Theo Fleury.


Ducks defenseman Jamie Drysdale sat out with a lower-body injury that isn't thought to be serious. Adam Henrique missed the game with an illness, which meant Anaheim didn't have to scratch another forward to create a spot for Carlsson.

Ty Dellandrea was a healthy scratch for Dallas, giving way to longtime Ducks forward Sam Steel.


Stars: Host Philadelphia on Saturday night.

Ducks: At Arizona on Saturday.

___ AP NHL: