Woywitka, Lehtonen save day for Stars
January, 18, 2011
By Mark Stepneski | ESPNDallas.com
The Dallas Stars won their fourth straight game Monday night, but it took a couple of big plays in the final minute to get them past the Los Angeles Kings by a 2-1 score at American Airlines Center.
Play one was by defenseman Jeff Woywitka, who grabbed a puck as it sat under Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen and on the Dallas goal line, sweeping it away as the Kings pressed for the tying goal in the final minute of the game.
“I was just thinking the puck was laying there, Lehts didn’t see it. His pad was in the way,” said Woywitka. “It was just one of those plays where you are just reacting. Anything can happen. You just want to get it out as quick as you can. A lot of stuff can happen. It’s the heat of the moment. They’ve got sticks too and can poke it in. I just swooped it out, I didn’t really cover it.”
But since he gathered the puck with his hand while it was in the crease, the Kings were awarded a penalty shot.
That led to big play number two for the Stars. This one was turned in by Lehtonen, who made a pad save on Jack Johnson’s penalty shot bid to preserve the Stars’ lead and give them their first win over Los Angeles in three tries this season.
“We had lots of confidence in him making the save there,” said Woywitka. “It was a big save and we got the two points.”
Lehtonen gave full marks to Woywitka for his big play and was willing to take a chance on the Kings getting a penalty shot.
“Woywitka made a nice desperation play there. Somebody was going to tap it in,” said Lehtonen. “I was more comfortable with [the penalty] shot than I was with it being six against four [power play] for a minute.”
The win pushed the Stars’ points streak to seven games (6-0-1) and extended their lead over Phoenix to six points in the race for first place in the Pacific Division. Los Angeles fell 12 points off the pace in the Pacific.
“It's huge in a lot of ways for us tonight," Dallas coach Marc Crawford said. "They're a divisional opponent and I think we were 10 points ahead of them and now we're 12 points ahead of them, so that's a huge win for us that way. You want to bank any points that you can.”
While Woywitka and Lehtonen were turning in defensive gems late in the game, the Dallas power play provided the offense. After Los Angeles took a 1-0 lead on a first period goal by Justin Williams, Dallas bounced back to take the lead with two power play goals in the second.
Both were set up by Brad Richards. The first one came at the `11:38 mark of the second when Loui Eriksson redirected a Richards pass by Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier.
Jamie Langenbrunner, playing in his 1,000th NHL game, scored what would be to be the game-winner, knocking home a pass from Richards with 3:01 left in the second.
“Richie kind of laid it there right on my stick. It was a great pass by him,” said Langenbrunner. “It feels good to contribute on the scoreboard, especially in a win.”
*The Stars honored Jamie Langenbrunner for playing in his 1,000th game prior to Monday night’s contest.
*Stars defenseman Karlis Skrastins played in his 800th game Monday night.