Thursday, February 2, 2012
Stars start strong out of break, rout Ducks
By Mark Stepneski
The Dallas Stars were looking for a strong start coming out of the All-Star break and they got it Wednesday night in Anaheim, routing the Ducks 6-2 at Honda Center.
The victory lifted the Stars (26-21-2) to within one point of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“We have to keep moving forward like this if we want to make the playoffs,” said Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas, who scored a power play goal and led Dallas with eight hits.
Six different players scored goals for the Stars, who had scored two goals or fewer in their last six games.
“We’ve had trouble scoring goals lately, but we’ve got our guys back in the lineup and we’re more healthy,” said Robidas. “A lot of our goals were shots and traffic and rebounds. It wasn’t all like tic-tac-toes. We’ve got to keep things simple and play well defensively. I think there are some corrections that need to be made in that regard, but overall we are pleased with the effort and obviously we are very happy with the win.”
Center Jamie Benn, who had missed the last five games due to an appendectomy, had one goal and two assists in the game, as did Michael Ryder. Robidas, Eric Nystrom, Vernon Fiddler and Sheldon Souray also scored for the Stars, who scored six goals in regulation for the third time this season.
“We were a little more in an offensive mode. We were thinking a little more about scoring,” said Souray. “In the last game (1-0 win over Anaheim) we were just wanting to keep it close and get comfortable in close game.”
The Stars got a stellar performance from goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who stopped 33 of 35 shots. He came up big early in the game when the Stars were still shaking off a little bit of the rust from the break, and was solid throughout.
Special teams were big for the Stars as well. The power play, which had been struggling prior to the break, was 1-3. The penalty kill was 4-4.
The Stars, who fell behind early, took control of the game with three goals in a 3:54 span late in the first period, turning a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 lead heading into the first intermission.
Eric Nystrom knocked home the rebound of an Alex Goligoski shot from the left point to tie the game. Vernon Fiddler won a puck battle against Anaheim defenseman Luca Sbisa in the neutral zone, slipped by Ducks defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky in the slot and then beat Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller five-hole to the give the Stars a 2-1 lead. Benn scored on a breakaway following an Anaheim turnover to make it a 3-1 game.
Stephane Robidas scored on the power play to make it a 4-1 game in the second. Sbisa scored for the Ducks to cut the lead to 4-2 a little more than a minute later, but Sheldon Souray and Michael Ryder scored third period goals for the Stars to put the Ducks away.
Anaheim, which entered the game on a 9-1-1 run, had a six-game home winning streak snapped.
“We played bad tonight,” Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau said. “It wasn’t fun to watch.”
For the Stars, it was a step in the right direction as they try to climb into the top eight in the Western Conference.
“It’s little steps. There are some building blocks to build from,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “Was our game clean? By no means, but it can get better. That’s what we have to do, but we’ll take the points and use that as a stepping stone.”
*Defenseman Nicklas Grossman did not play Wednesday due to the flu. He could play Thursday.
*Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said Richard Bachman would start Thursday’s game in San Jose.
*Adam Pardy and Toby Petersen were healthy scratches Wednesday.
*Sheldon Souray scored his first goal since November 4.
*Stephane Robidas scored his first since November 6.