Stars prevail in shootout, keep third seed in West

March, 21, 2012
3/21/12
12:26
AM CT


DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars got an important two points Tuesday night, but they weren’t thrilled with how they got them. The Stars blew a 3-1 lead in the third period before beating the Phoenix Coyotes 4-3 in a shootout at American Airlines Center.

“I think we did good things but we’ve got to find ways to keep that two-goal lead and not give those guys a chance to get back into the game,” said Stars forward Michael Ryder, who scored two goals and had one assist. “We made a couple mistakes, a couple turnovers that ended up in our net. We came here for two points and we got that, but they got one.”

The win kept the Stars, who snapped a two-game losing streak, in first place in the Pacific Division and third in the Western Conference. The Stars are one point ahead of both Los Angeles and Phoenix in the division and they are now three points ahead of San Jose.

The Stars got a big game from their top line of Loui Eriksson, Mike Ribeiro and Ryder, who scored all three goals for Dallas. Ribeiro also scored the lone goal of the shootout.

“We’ve been working well lately for the past while and we’re reading off each other and working hard and trying to do the right things and it seems to be going in for us,” said Ryder.

Kari Lehtonen was superb in goal, making 27 saves in regulation and overtime and stopping all three shooters in the shootout.

“He gave us the points,” Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said of Lehtonen’s performance.

The Stars struck first in the game, getting a goal from Eriksson off the rush just 2:12 into the game. The Coyotes answered a little more than three minutes later on a goal by Lauri Korpikoski.

The Stars took a 2-1 lead on a power play goal by Ryder at the 5:26 mark and less than 30 seconds later there was a major scrum after Phoenix captain Shane Doan caught Stars forward Jamie Benn in the head with an elbow. A total of 64 penalty minutes were handed out, including fighting majors to Doan and Stars captain Brenden Morrow.

Gulutzan did not like Doan’s hit on Benn.

“I think it is a suspendable offense. He targeted the head with his elbow,” Gulutzan said. “The league will look at it for sure and decide. But it's deliberate."

Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said he hadn’t seen a replay of the play yet.

“I haven’t looked at it yet but we’ll see how that goes,” Tippett said.

The Stars were able to extend their lead later in the period when Ryder got to a puck in the crease and put it past Coyotes goalie Mike Smith to make it a 3-1 game.

But the Coyotes came back in the third, getting a shorthanded tally from defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and then a power play goal by Ray Whitney to tie the game.

“We shot ourselves in the foot,” said Gulutzan. “We couldn’t get it through our heads that turning the puck over is dangerous.”

Lehtonen came up with big saves down the stretch and in overtime, including a great pad save on Ekman-Larsson in the extra period.

“Yeah, that’s a really good save,” said Ekman-Larsson. “I think I hit the pad there, so yeah, almost.”

In the shootout, Lehtonen stopped Mikkel Boedker, Whitney and Doan.

“I was pretty comfortable there,” Lehtonen said. “We look at lots of tape and have a little clue of what they are doing. I was happy it worked out that way.”

Ribeiro scored the lone goal for the Stars, eluding an aggressive move by Smith and then slipping the puck into the net.

“I didn’t expect [Smith] to come out,” Ribeiro said. “I expected him maybe to poke check, but I guess he was nervous seeing what I was doing, but we shouldn’t have even been there. It should have been over way before that”

Notes

*The Stars lost defenseman Mark Fistric to a pulled muscle in the second period. He did not return to the game.

*Jamie Benn was banged up in overtime, going into the corner boards hard during a collision with Phoenix forward Antoine Vermette. Benn left the game, but then returned for the shootout. He appeared to be fine after the game.

*Adam Pardy, Ryan Garbutt, Tomas Vincour, Toby Petersen and Jordie Benn were healthy scratches for the Dallas Stars.

*The Coyotes were without RW Radim Vrbata (illness) and LW Taylor Pyatt (upper body) for Tuesday’s game.

*Tuesday’s attendance was 17,012.

Mark Stepneski

ESPNDallas.com
Mark Stepneski joined ESPNDallas.com in July 2010. A former news/special projects producer for KXAS-TV, he has run the Andrew's Dallas Stars Page website since 1997.

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