Monday, January 16, 2012
Short-handed Stars shut out in St. Louis
By Mark Stepneski
Missing two of their top players, the Dallas Stars played a gritty, determined game and got a superb performance from goaltender Kari Lehtonen, but it wasn’t enough to get points in St. Louis Monday night. T.J. Oshie scored the game’s only goal with 8:34 remaining as the Blues beat the Stars 1-0 at Scottrade Center.
“We knew it was going to be a tight game against this team. They play a lot of low scoring games,” said Lehtonen, who stopped 31 of 32 shots. “When we went to the third period we felt pretty good about our game. They kind of took it to the next level, they got the one goal and it was enough today.”
The game’s only goal came with 8:34 remaining. After a faceoff in the St. Louis zone, Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo chipped the puck out of the zone setting up a two-on-two rush and David Perron set up Oshie, who got to the net and slipped the puck past Lehtonen.
“We got into a position to have some success. We got it into a next goal wins game and it just wasn’t us that got it,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “I thought we battled hard.”
The Stars, playing without their top two centers – Jamie Benn and Mike Ribeiro – battled one of the top teams in the league and one of the toughest at home toe-to-toe for 60 minutes.
“When you’re missing a couple of good players, you have to work hard, try to eliminate penalties and try to score a couple goals,” Lehtonen said. “Everything else was great except the outcome. We didn’t get the points.”
With Benn and Ribeiro out, Gulutzan had to rework his forward line combinations for the game. The Stars ended up with 22 shots on goal against the Blues, one of the top defensive teams in the league.
“I liked the work ethic,” Gulutzan said. “We didn’t create a whole ton, but we worked hard and, for the most part, we were fairly stingy.”
The Stars didn’t have a lot of chances, but they did have a few quality ones on Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak. He made a big save on Loui Eriksson’s point blank backhand attempt in the first. He stopped Eric Nystrom late in the second. He stopped a Nystrom breakaway in the third.
The Blues, who pulled into a three-way tie for the most points in the league, extended their points streak to seven games (6-0-1) and pushed their home points streak to 13 games (11-0-2).
“This was one of those find a way games,” said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock. “Dallas came with a definitive game plan. They checked us hard. There wasn’t a lot of easy ice out there. It was a gritty game by both teams. I thought we gutted it out and played a hell of a third period.”
For the Stars, despite the loss, there were positives to take from the game.
“I thought we were pretty good tonight. We talked about keeping it simple, nobody trying to do too much and everybody pulling their end. I think we did that,” said Stars forward Adam Burish. “A 0-0 game coming in is what we expected and wanted to play. We were one shot away. Give St. Louis credit. That’s a good hockey team. But that is the kind of game going forward, with the injuries we have and what we’re going through, that’s how we have to play. I think overall we can be positive about it.”
*Stars forward Jamie Benn, who had an appendectomy Sunday, is out of the hospital and is said to be doing well.
*The Stars were shut out for the fifth time this season.
*The Stars were 0-3 on the power play and are 3-39 (7.7%) on the power play over the last 12 games.
*St. Louis has not allowed a third period goal in their last nine games and have outscored their opponents 6-0 in third periods during that stretch.
*Adam Pardy was the lone healthy scratch for the Stars.