Dallas Stars: Ben Eager



A stellar outing from Kari Lehtonen and a productive night for the top line helped pushed the Dallas Stars back to the top of the Pacific Division on Wednesday night. Lehtonen made 31 saves and Michael Ryder, Mike Ribeiro and Loui Eriksson combined for three goals and five assists as the Stars beat the Edmonton Oilers, 3-1, at Rexall Place.

The Stars now have a one point lead over both Los Angeles and San Jose in the division. They have a two point lead on Phoenix, which also holds the ninth place spot in the Western Conference. All four teams have five games remaining.

“We are in a battle for our lives and we need every point we can get,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “Getting two tonight was big for us.”

It was a strong bounced back effort for the Stars, who were coming off a 5-4 loss in Calgary on Monday night to open their four game road trip.

“The last game we kind of took the flow away from ourselves with some penalties and stuff like that. Tonight our PK was good and Lehts (Kari Lehtonen) was great again,” said Ryder. “It’s a matter of doing the little things right now and make sure we don’t make those key mistakes and sticking to the hard game plan.”

Lehtonen came up with several big stops in the game for the Stars, including early. He had a sharp save on Ben Eager and then stopped Nick Schultz on a shorthanded two-on-one to keep it scoreless game in the first period.

“He’s an elite goalie; he’s up there with the big guys,” said Gulutzan. “He’s one of the reasons we’re fighting for this division title and fighting for our lives to get into the playoffs. When you get goaltending like that every night it gives your guys confidence. He’s our MVP.”

Ryder got the Stars on the scoreboard 11:53 into the game, splitting two Edmonton defenseman and then beating Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk with a backhand shot.

The Stars extended the lead to 2-0 early in the second by cashing in on a two-on-one as Ribeiro finished off a give-and-go with Erikson.

Lehtonen came up with a huge save early in the third period, stopping a Jordan Eberle shorthanded breakaway to keep the Stars up 2-0.

“I had enough time to see who was coming and remember how he likes to deke on the penalty shots and breakaways,” Lehtonen said. “I had a feeling what might be coming, but he made that deke so fast I was lucky to get to get something there.”

Gulutzan’s thoughts on the save: “Huge. Huge. He’s been doing that all year. That’s why we are here.”

The Stars extended the lead to 3-0 a couple minutes later when Eriksson won a puck battle near the Edmonton goal line, got the puck to Ribeiro, who then quickly set up Ryder, who scored from close range.

Ryder ended the night with a two goals and an assist, Ribeiro had one goal and two assists and Eriksson chipped in two assists.

“We’ve been living and dying with that line for the last 15 games. They bounced back tonight. They were real sharp and made some real nice plays,” said Gulutzan. “Your big players have to be your best players in these games and they were tonight.”

The Oilers scored with 11:39 remaining when Ales Hemsky scored on a rebound. It came just moments after Lehtonen was stung by a high, hard shot off the stick of Ryan Smyth.

“It was a stinger up from the shot,” said Gulutzan. “I know he can play through those.”

The loss ended a seven game points streak for the Oilers.

“They didn’t do anything spectacular over there,” said Eberle. “The few mistakes we made they capitalized on. We just couldn’t find a way to battle back into a game that was important for us.”

Notes

*The Stars swept the season series from the Oilers, outscoring them 14-4 in the four games.

*The Stars are 14-5-0 against the Northwest Division this season.

*The Stars were 4-4 on the penalty kill in the game and 0-5 on the power play.

*Stars forward Reilly Smith made his NHL debut Wednesday. He played 4:05 and had one shot on goal.

*Radek Dvorak (ankle), Eric Nystrom (leg) and Mark Fistric (abdominal strain) were out for Dallas.

*Tom Wandell, Toby Petersen and Jordie Benn were healthy scratches.

Stars blown away in San Jose

April, 1, 2011
4/01/11
1:25
AM CT
The Dallas Stars have had a lot of success in San Jose over the years, but not on Thursday night. And it was a night in which they really needed some success. The Stars missed another chance to gain ground in the playoff race, losing 6-0 to San Jose Sharks.

The Stars are three points behind eighth-place Chicago and both teams have six games remaining. The Stars trail seventh place Anaheim by six points (with one game in hand).

"[Thursday’s game] was a bit of a mess, but we still live to fight another day,” Stars captain Brenden Morrow said. “We play in a couple of days and these are the big ones, Los Angeles and Anaheim. We’re running out of games. We’ve been saying we’ve got games, we’ve got points but we’re running out of them. It’s starting to be do or die.”

The Stars didn’t “do” on Thursday. The Sharks outshot the Stars 52-29 and chased Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen early in the third period after making it a 4-0 game.

“They were the better team out there,” said Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas. “It was as simple as that.”

The Stars started strong in the game, playing a fast-paced and fairly even first period with the Sharks. San Jose scored late in the period when Dan Boyle knocked home the rebound of a Joe Pavelski spinning backhand shot off the rush.

The Sharks ramped it up in the second period, getting a power play goal from Logan Couture early in the period and then a Marc-Edouard Vlasic late the period to make it 3-0. In between those two goals the Stars had three power play chances and opportunity to cut into the lead, but couldn't take advantage.

A Patrick Marleau goal off the rush early in third ended the night for Lehtonen, who allowed four goals on 33 shots. Andrew Raycroft played the rest of the way, allowing two two goals – to Marleau and Ben Eager on 19 shots.

“The first period had lots of battle in it, but it seemed we were unable to match them in the second and third,” Stars coach Marc Crawford said. “They looked like a lot fresher club than we did. That’s no excuse for us. We got beat. We got beat soundly tonight. They were full points for the win. We’ve just got to be more determined than we showed tonight. It’s not good enough. We know it’s not good enough. The consolation is we live to fight another day and on the other side of it, it was the whole group that wasn’t good enough.”

The Sharks, who improved to 24-4-4 over their last 32 games, clinched a playoff spot and moved into second place in the Western Conference.

"I like where our team is at right now with the pressure we've had to play with the last two months," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "We've never had the opportunity to put it on cruise control and I don't want us to push that button at all. I want us to keep going so when that tournament does start, we're at the top of our game and not trying to find it."

Sharks rout Stars, 6-0

March, 31, 2011
3/31/11
10:17
PM CT
The Dallas Stars’ winless streak hit five games (0-2-3) with a 6-0 loss at San Jose Thursday night. The Stars remain three points out of a playoff spot with six games left in the season. The Sharks outshot the Stars 52-29. Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen was pulled early in the third period after giving up four goals on 33 shots. Andrew Raycroft played the rest of the game and stopped 17 of 19 shots.

Quotable

“The first period had lots of battle in it, but it seemed we were unable to match them in the second and third. They looked like a lot fresher club than we did. That’s no excuse for us. We got beat. We got beat soundly tonight. They were full points for the win. We’ve just got to be more determined than we showed tonight. It’s not good enough. We know it’s not good enough. The consolation is we live to fight another day and on the other side of it, it was the whole group that wasn’t good enough.” – Stars coach Marc Crawford

“It was a bit of a mess, but we still live to fight another day. We play in a couple of days and these are the big ones, Los Angeles and Anaheim. We’re running out of games. We’ve been saying we’ve got games, we’ve got points but we’re running out of them. It’s starting to be do or die.” – Stars captain Brenden Morrow

“We were a little concerned coming off the four day layoff, but I think we came out and were obviously energized and the guys used the four days to their advantage.” – Sharks coach Todd McLellan

Notes

*The Stars are 1-4-3 in their last eight games.

*San Jose won the season series against the Stars. The Sharks were 3-1-2 for eight points and the Stars were 3-2-1 for seven points.

*The Stars lost the season series against each of their Pacific Division opponents.

*The 52 shots against Thursday were the most allowed by the Stars this season.

*The Stars were shut out for the fifth time this season.

*Krys Barch, Toby Petersen and Steve were the only three Dallas players to have an even rating in the game.

First period

The Sharks scored the only goal, which came with 3:48 remaining. Sharks center Joe Pavelski put a spinning backhander on net off the rush and defenseman Dan Boyle scored on the rebound.

The Sharks came close to extending it to a 2-0 lead with just under two minutes left in the period, but Stars goalie stopped Sharks forward Devin Setoguchi on a breakaway.

Brandon Segal was the lone healthy scratch for the Stars. Karlis Skrastins, Adam Burish, Nicklas Grossman and Brian Sutherby remain out with injury.

Second period

The Sharks extended their lead to 2-0 with a power play goal at the 4:30 mark of the second period. Logan Couture knocked a rebound out of the air with his hand and then backhanded the puck into the open side of the net for his 31st goal of the season.

The Stars had three straight power play chances later in the period, but couldn’t take advantage. Stars forward Loui Eriksson had an excellent chance on the third one, but Sharks goalie Antti Niemi made a sharp pad save.

San Jose made it a 3-0 game with 1:25 left in the period. Devin Setoguchi helped win a puck battle along the boards and then went to the front of the net, setting a screen on a Marc-Edouard Vlasic shot from the left point.

Third period

Sharks forward Patrick Marleau scored from the left circle off the rush at the 2:30 mark of the third, making it a 4-0 game. That ended the night for Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who gave up four goals on 33 shots.

Andrew Raycroft came in, playing in his first game since February 19. He stopped 17 of 19 shots, allowing goals by Marleau and Ben Eager.

Marleau scored on a close range backhand shot after taking a centering pass from Joe Thornton.

Eager scored off a the rush, making a nice move to go forehand to backhand between his legs before scoring his goal.

Stars lineup

Morrow-Ribeiro-Williams/Benn
Ott-Richards-Eriksson
Vincour-Benn-Langenbrunner
Barch-Wandell-Petersen
Eriksson-Richards-Langenbrunner

Goligoski-Robidas
Woywitka-Daley
Goligoski-Lukowich
Fistric-Robidas

Lehtonen
Raycroft

Injured: Grossman (knee), Skrastins (leg), Burish (leg), Sutherby (back)

Scratches: Segal

Power play units

Morrow-Ribeiro-Eriksson-Richards-Goligoski
Ott-Benn-Langenbrunner-Daley-Robidas

Penalty kill units

Ott-Benn-Goligoski-Robidas
Ribeiro-Morrow-Fistric-Daley
Eriksson-Langenbrunner-Goligoski-Robidas

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