Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Stars make it four straight with 5-2 win over Caps
By Mark Stepneski
The wins keep on coming for the Dallas Stars and so do the goals. The Stars, who have scored 17 goals over their past three games, ran their winning streak to four games with a 5-2 win over the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night.
The Stars, who improved to 11-3-0 on the season and have the best points percentage in the league at .786, handed the Capitals their first home loss of the season (6-1-0).
The Stars are 2-0-0 on their current road trip and have now won five of their past six games on the road.
“We knew this trip was a big trip for us. We wanted to make sure we got off to a good start the last game (5-2 win over Carolina), and we did that,” said Stars forward Michael Ryder, who scored two goals. “Tonight we wanted to make sure we kept it going. We knew we were playing a good team and we had to come out strong. We did that and we kept going for a full 60 minutes. We came up with the win.”
Tuesday’s win in Washington was a big one as it kicked off a stretch of three straight tough road games. Pittsburgh (Friday) and Detroit (Saturday) are up next.
“It’s a good measuring stick for us,” Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. “We’re trying to gauge ourselves against the league, coming into Washington and then going to Pittsburgh and Detroit. We feel this is going to be a real good measuring stick. Tonight we liked our game and I think it gives us confidence moving forward.”
“This was against an elite team and I am sure there were a lot of people watching to see how we did against a great team like Washington,” said Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who stopped 30 shots to earn his league-leading 11th win. “It was nice to get a good victory.”
The two teams were tied 2-2 entering the third period, but the Stars scored three times in the first 8:05 of the period to blow the game open.
Off a faceoff, Brenden Morrow got to the puck and centered it to Adam Burish, who outbattled Nicklas Backstrom and scored off a backhand just 24 seconds into the third period.
“That goal by Burish was a big one to get us in the lead,” said Stars center Jamie Benn, who had one goal and two assists in the game. “We just kept rolling from there.”
Benn scored off the rebound of a Sheldon Souray shot with Dallas on the power play at the 7:33 mark of the third to put the Stars up 4-2. Just 32 seconds later Eric Nystrom scored a highlight reel goal off the rush, shooting the puck while airborne, to give the Stars a commanding 5-2 lead.
“It was really nice to see how we outworked them in the third," Lehtonen said. "It was fairly easy for me. I think I had two saves at the halfway mark (of the third) and we had scored three goals already."
The Stars opened the scoring at 10:32 of the first period on a goal by Ryder. After an icing call was waved off, Jamie Benn got to the puck, sent it to the point and Ryder tipped a shot by Trevor Daley past Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth at the 10:32 mark.
Washington tied by cashing in on their first power play chance of the game. Nicklas Backstrom backhanded the puck out of the corner to Alexander Semin, who scored off a blast from the right circle at the 15:43 mark.
Less than two minutes later the Stars had their lead back. After some sustained pressure in the Washington zone, Benn sent a cross-ice pass to Ryder, who used to some slick stick work to slip the puck past Neuvirth at the 17:16 mark.
“The goalie challenged me, I just went around and managed to find a way to get it in the net,” Ryder said.
Washington tied the game late in the second. After an icing call against Dallas, the Capitals won an offensive zone draw and defenseman John Carlson scored on a blast from the right point with 4:04 left in the period.
But that was it in the scoring department for the Capitals, who have lost two straight by a combined score of 10-5 and have been outscored 6-1 in the third period of those two games.
“We were fortunate to be tied after two and talked about playing one good period in the third and in the first 15-20 seconds they score a goal,” Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. “We talked about how we lost a lot of battles the last two third periods of the last two games. The compete level wasn’t as great as we’d like it to be.”
• The Stars are 15-1-4 in their past 20 games against Washington.
• Stars forward Steve Ott missed his third straight game with a hip injury.
• Adam Pardy and Krys Barch were healthy scratches for the Stars.