Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Stars hit break on winning note
By Mark Stepneski
DALLAS -- It wasn’t pretty, but it was two points and it was a win the Dallas Stars needed as they headed in the All-Star break. Kari Lehtonen stopped 27 shots for his first shutout of the season as the Stars snapped a five-game winless streak with 1-0 victory over the Anaheim Ducks at American Airlines Center Tuesday night.
“I thought we certainly got outchanced in this game, but our best player was our goalie,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “We got a few lucky bounces as well that were nearly on their tape and in our net, but it was a good game to get.”
It was the Stars’ first win since January 12 when they beat the Kings 5-4 in a shootout.
“It feels good,” said Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski, who scored the game’s only goal. “The last two days guys have been itching to get at this game. We all said let’s put this behind us and get a win here.”
The victory puts the Stars (25-21-2) in 10th place at the All-Star break, three points out of the eighth and final playoff spot.
“We’re in a battle,” said Gulutzan. “We haven’t made any excuses for ourselves and we’ll have no excuse coming back. We’ll be healthy and rested and we’ll have to make a run at it.”
The Stars won Tuesday despite registering a season-low 16 shots on goal and not getting one power play chance in the game. The Ducks, who had 27 shots, put 69 pucks towards the net, including shots on goal, shots that were blocked and shots that went wide. The Stars put just 33 shots towards the goal.
But the Stars got a break on one of those shots and it turned out to be the difference on the scoreboard.
Center Mike Ribeiro dropped the puck to Goligoski off the rush and Goligoski’s shot bounced off Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler’s head and into the net with 3:19 left before the first intermission.
“It was bouncy-ball I guess,” said Goligoski. “It felt good to get that one and get a lead. We have played with the lead much lately, so that was nice.”
It was also nice for the Stars to get some bounces, something they haven’t had during their recent winless streak.
“You go back to the St. Louis and Detroit games, where we played as hard as we could and probably at our max, and we probably deserved more than one point out of there and didn’t get them,” said Gulutzan. “Even parts of the Colorado game and Tampa game we played well, but couldn’t get anything. Tonight we didn’t play as well and we got everything.”
They got a solid performance from Lehtonen, who came up big in the first period with quality stops on Saku Koivu and Bobby Ryan. Lehtonen’s shutout was his first this season and the 18th of his career.
“I haven’t gotten many lately, so it was nice to get one,” Lehtonen said of the shutout. “I don’t know why it’s been tougher the last couple of years to get them, but I just have to keep working hard. This was a nice win.”
His teammates were sharp in the third, giving the Ducks few opportunities.
“I thought the third was our best,” said Gulutzan. “We didn’t give them a lot.”
Said Goligoski: “It was great. We were very comfortable. No turnovers, just playing smart hockey with a lead. That’s encouraging to see. We have a lot of guys on this team who know how to win. It’s good stuff.”
The Ducks had a five-game winning streak and a nine-game points streak end with the regulation loss.
“You don’t like to end something like we’ve got going on a situation like that,” said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. “You could tell early on that Lehtonen was really on his game and it was going to take something special But again, we had open nets and we missed the net. We get those chances and we put them in no matter how good the goalie is we’re probably going to win the game. It didn’t happen that way.”
*Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen earned his first shutout since April 5, 2011 (vs. Columbus). It was his 18th career shutout.
*Mike Ribeiro returned to the lineup after missing seven games with a knee injury. He assisted on the game’s only goal and led all Dallas forwards with 20:55 of ice time.
*Stars left wing Matt Fraser made his NHL debut Tuesday and played 3:57 in the game.
*Stars center Jamie Benn (appendectomy) missed his fifth straight game.
*Stars captain Brenden Morrow missed Tuesday’s game with a neck injury.
*Tuesday’s attendance was 12,141.