Dallas Stars: Dany Heatley
The Dallas Stars ran their winning streak to six games and their points streak to 11 (10-0-1) with a 1-0 victory at Minnesota on Tuesday night. Kari Lehtonen stopped 25 shots for his second consecutive shutout and fourth of the season. Jamie Benn scored the lone goal for the Stars, who won their sixth straight game on the road.
The Stars outshot the Wild 10-8 in the first period, but there weren’t a lot of quality chances. Wild goalie Matt Hackett had nice stops on a close-range bid by Adam Pardy and stopped a close-in rebound attempt by Michael Ryder.
The Wild had the period’s only power play, and Lehtonen made a great save on a Dany Heatley shot from the top of the crease.
Both teams had nine shots in the second period, but again no scoring. Both goaltenders had sharp saves in the second.
Lehtonen made a nice stop on Erik Christensen and then Kyle Brodziak’s rebound attempt.
Hackett had key saves on Tom Wandell, Mike Ribeiro and Loui Eriksson.
Both teams were 0-2 on the power play, and there was a lot of four-on-four play in the period, as well.
The Stars killed off a 1:18 Wild power play early in the second and then scored the game’s only goal at even strength.
Off the rush, Brenden Morrow set up Jamie Benn, who roofed a shot over Hackett at the 3:46 mark of the second period.
Lehtonen stopped eight shots in the third, none bigger than a save on a point blank shot Brodziak with 3.2 seconds remaining in the game.
Injured: Souray (lower body), Dvorak (ankle)
Scratched: Petersen, Dowell, Jordie Benn
DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars honored former goaltender Ed Belfour for his Hall of Fame induction Saturday night, and then current Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen put on a show of his own in leading Dallas to a 2-1 shootout victory over the Minnesota Wild at American Airlines Center.
Lehtonen stopped 33 of 34 shots in regulation and overtime and then two of three in the shootout for the Stars, who have won three of their last four games.
"(Belfour) was one of those goalies that I used to look up to when I was a little kid and I was fortunate enough to play against him a couple of times," Lehtonen said. "He's one of my heroes and it was nice to see him out there and get recognition. It was a good way to start the game.”
Lehtonen has won his last three starts, allowing just three goals and stopping 93 of 96 shots.
“It was a nice, tight game. They got a few chances, I made some saves and was lucky a couple times,” Lehtonen said. “I think our penalty kill was really good, too. That helped us. Overall, it was a fun game for me, lots of shots and two points at the end.”
The shootout victory, in which the eighth place Wild received one point, pulled the Stars to within two points of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“We would have liked to picked up two points on them, but we closed the gap and that’s what we’re trying to do,” said Stars forward Eric Nystrom. “There’s a lot of hockey left.”
Mike Ribeiro scored on the power play in regulation and Loui Eriksson and Jamie Benn tallied in the shootout for the Stars.
The Stars got a big performance from their special teams. The penalty kill was 4-4, including a stop on Minnesota power play that started late in regulation and carried over into the overtime.
“Our PK was really big,” said Gulutzan. “I thought we did a really good job.”
The power play scored for the third straight game and provided the Stars’ only goal. That came when Mike Ribeiro scored off a rebound in the second period.
“We’ve just simplified a little bit. We’re not trying to make those nice plays,” said Ribeiro. “We just simplified. Bring the puck to the point, get shots through and converge to the net and get those rebounds.”
The Stars had some issues early in the game as turnovers led to some quality chances for the Wild. Lehtonen came up with two big stops on Minnesota’s Dany Heatley in the first period.
It was a turnover in the third period that led to Minnesota’s only goal. After an errant pass by Stars forward Jake Dowell, Minnesota’s Kyle Brodziak cashed in on a point blank chance to tie the game at 1-1.
In the shootout, Eriksson scored off a backhand shot against Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom and Benn scored off a wrist shot. Lehtonen stopped Erik Christensen, surrendered a goal to Matt Cullen and then stopped Jared Spurgeon to secure the victory.
While it was a big win for the Stars, Gulutzan saw a need for an improvement as the Stars move forward down the stretch drive.
“We relied on our goalie a lot. We have to be better,” Gulutzan said. “I’m ecstatic about the two points and it’s going to help us, but we have a different level we need to get to.”
*The Stars improved to 4-2 in shootouts this season.
*The Stars are now 15-0-0 when leading after two periods this season.
*The Stars are 3-7 (42.9%) on the power play since the All-Star break.
*Mark Fistric, Adam Pardy and Toby Petersen were healthy scratches for the Stars.
*Saturday’s attendance was 18.532, which is a sellout.
The Dallas Stars got the start they wanted Saturday night, but it was a one minute stretch of the second period that doomed then in a 5-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild at Excel Energy Center.
The Stars, who had a 2-1 lead in the game, surrendered three goals in a 59-second span, found themselves down 4-2 and could never recover.
“It’s tough. You want to respond after a team scores a goal, but when they bang a few back-to-back, it's definitely demoralizing,” Stars forward Eric Nystrom. “It gets in your psyche and momentum is huge in this game. They got on a roll and we couldn't stop it.”
The loss pushed the Stars’ winless streak to five games (0-4-1) and dropped them to 11th place in the Western Conference standings, four points out of the final playoff spot. The Stars trail ninth place Minnesota by three points.
“We are fighting for the playoffs and this is one of teams we wanted to leapfrog them with a win tonight,” said Stars captain Brenden Morrow. “Now we are three points back. We’ve got them again in a couple of weeks. Hopefully this sits in and we have some motivation.”
The Stars were excellent in the first period, outshooting the Wild 11-5 and getting the period’s only goal when Nystrom tipped a Stephane Robidas shot into the net with 1:22 left in the first to give the Stars a 1-0 lead.
But in the second period, things started to unravel for the Stars. Minnesota, which has been struggling to score recently, cashed in on its first power play to tie the game when Devin Setoguchi scored from the right circle. The Stars got the lead back on a Philip Larsen goal, but after that things completely fell apart for Dallas.
The Wild scored three quick goals to build a 4-2 lead. Cal Clutterbuck scored off a backhand shot from close range to tie the game 2-2, Chad Rau put a wrap-around shot in off Morrow’s stick to make it 3-2 and wide open Kyle Brodziak scored on a one-timer to give the Wild a 4-2 lead.
“I guess if I could get a rewind on that, after they got that 3-2 goal I maybe should have called a timeout. But I thought we could handle it as a group. That’s probably the rewind for me,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “Otherwise, we had a good 28 minutes going there, playing the way we wanted to play and we gave them life. A couple little sloppy plays, one on the penalty kill cost us a goal. Just around the net. That’s it. That’s the ballgame.”
Gulutzan pulled goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who stopped 15 of 19 shots, after two period and brought in backup Richard Bachman in hopes of changing momentum.
“[Lehtonen] made some big saves for us and we hung him to dry,” Gulutzan said. “I wasn’t going to change Kari with four minutes left in the second, he’s been too good for us to do that. That was a message to our guys that we need to be better. Then on the first shift or second shift we give up a two-on-one. I guess we did it to both guys.”
The Wild extended the lead to 5-2 early in the third period when Warren Peters set up Dany Heatley on a two-on-one rush.
The victory snapped a four-game winless streak for the Wild, who won for just the third time in their last 18 games.
For the Stars, they’ve followed up solid efforts against St. Louis and Detroit earlier in the week with rocky outings against Tampa Bay and Minnesota.
“That’s called inconsistency. You’re not going to be where you want to be if you are playing inconsistent hockey,” said Nystrom. “We had a good first 20 minutes and then we just drift away from our game plan. It eats you up. We’ve got to find a way to be more consistent in our game night in, night out, every shift. It’s not easy. That’s why some teams are where they are and why some teams aren’t where they want to be. It’s little inconsistencies.”
*The Stars are now 0-7-1 in second game of back-to-backs this season.
*D Philip Larsen was back in the lineup after sitting out the last nine games due to a concussion. He scored his first NHL goal in the game.
*Eric Nystrom’s goal was his 14th of the season.
*Mike Ribeiro (knee) missed his sixth straight game for the Stars and Jamie Benn (appendectomy) missed his fourth straight.
*Mark Fistric and Adam Pardy were healthy scratches for the Stars.
*The last time Minnesota scored four goals in a period was January 2010.
Steve Ott and Tomas Vincour, who both took head shots in that game as well, are fine and will play tonight.
Right wing Brandon Segal cleared re-entry waivers, was recalled this morning and he will be in the lineup tonight.
"He gives us another option tonight, a big body," said Stars coach Marc Crawford. "He played well this year and really was a victim of circumstance when we picked up Jamie Langenbrunner. He was one guy that could go down and save us some money. He was a political decision more than a hockey decision. We're pleased to have him back."
Segal was sent to the AHL on January 11. He played 30 games with the Texas Stars, registering 17 points (7 goals, 10 assists). Segal arrived at American Airlines Center just after this morning's skate.
"It's great to be back. This is where I want to be," Segal said. "Things were going great and then there were some unfortunate circumstances. That's just the way the business works. The main thing is I am back here and ready to help this team."
Segal has 4 goals and 5 assists in 36 games with Dallas this season.
*Kari Lehtonen will get the start in net tonight. It will be his 12th straight start and his 21st start in the last 23 games for the Stars.
*Stars coach Marc Crawford said he would probably go with the same six defensemen he has used the last couple games, and also indicated he is considering going with seven defensemen.
*Adam Burish will miss his third straight game with a lower body injury. Stars coach Marc Crawford said Burish is doubtful for Saturday's game against Philadelphia.
"He is improving, but he is not available to us tonight," Crawford said. "He is improving and we're hopeful that it won't be too long. I would say that he'll be doubtful for Saturday because looking at what we've got next week, we're probably going to exercise caution. But I would rule it out completely. We're gearing ourselves towards what is happening next week."
The Stars will play only one game in six-day span next week before heading out on a five-game road trip.
Ott on the Heatley suspension
After Thursday morning's skate, Stars forward Steve Ott was asked about Dany Heatley, who was given a two-game suspension for elbowing Ott in the head during Tuesday's game.
"It's appropriate," said Ott. "They have a tough job to do for what they have to do. He's kind of a first time guy, I believe, and everything else. Obviously the NHL handles it the way they think they need to."
Here's the release from the NHL:
San Jose Sharks forward Dany Heatley has been suspended for two games and will forfeit $80,645.16 in salary for delivering an elbow to the head of Dallas Stars player Steve Ott in NHL game #1049 last night, the National Hockey League announced today.
Heatley’s fine is based on his average annual salary and is calculated under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
The incident occurred at 15:54 of the third period and Heatley was assessed a minor penalty for interference.
Heatley will miss the Sharks’ next two games -- March 17 against Minnesota and March 19 against St. Louis. He will be eligible to return March 23 against Calgary.
Eriksson left the game in the second period after getting hit by Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray and did not return. Stars coach Marc Crawford didn't have much new on Eriksson's condition.
"He was in today and will continue to be diagnosed every day," Crawford said. "Obviously he couldn’t play last night and we kept him out."
Crawford wouldn't give an indication if Eriksson would be available for Thursday's game against Chicago.
"I wouldn’t be willing to say anything right now," Crawford said. "We’re just going to take it day by day and see how it progresses."
Vincour (hit by Murray) and Ott (elbowed in the head by Dany Heatley) stayed in the game.
"I saw Ott this morning and saw Vincour this morning. They are both fine," Crawford said, adding that they be getting further evaluation. "Everybody is being evaluated on a day to day basis."
Meanwhile, ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun reported that Heatley has a disciplinary meeting with the NHL for the hit on Ott.
The Stars are looking to bring in some help from the AHL. The team placed right wing Brandon Segal on re-entry waivers Wednesday and plan to recall him if he clears on Thursday. That's likely to happen because the waiver rules change after the NHL trade deadline. If a team were to claim Segal they would not be allowed to have him on the roster the rest of the season.
But TSN included the two Doug Murray hits - the ones on Loui Eriksson and Tomas Vincour - and the Dany Heatley elbow on Steve Ott in a collection of game highlights. You can find those highlights here.
On the other side of things, the TSN highlights don't include the Jamie Langenbrunner hit that knocked Sharks defenseman Niclas Wallin out of the game. You can find that one on YouTube here.
Here's a quote from Stars forward Steve Ott on the subject following the game.
"Colin Campbell has his hands full that’s for sure. The Loui Eriksson hit, I think that is prototypical. He’s reaching for the hit. The big guy knows what he is doing. He’s bearing down and finishing the check. He did it again on [Tomas] Vincour and elbowed him right in the face. My head is killing me from the light right now from Dany Heatley’s little cheap shot. If this doesn’t get looked at, I don’t know. I guess when you’re used to being on the other end and being suspended like I have in the past, it’s pretty evident where this stuff should go in a hurry. I don’t care if Heatley makes $10 million or if Murray makes this, it’s time to get this out of the game as fast as we can and protect guys. We’ve got guys in there that are going to be icing heads. You only have one brain, so let’s honestly start figuring something out."
The Stars lost their second straight game and fell to 1-2-1 on their current homestand.
Mike Ribeiro, Toby Petersen and Jamie Benn scored for the Stars, who lost forward Loui Eriksson to an upper body injury during the game. San Jose moved six points ahead of the Stars in the Pacific Division standings.
“Very often times it is a brief lapse in your play that costs you at this time of the year and that’s something that we’ll have to rectify. It was a helter-skelter game with all the head hits in the game. Sometimes you wish your team performed at the optimum level, but the emotion of the game, the energy of the game sometimes takes it away.” -- Stars coach Marc Crawford
“It was a tough game. We obviously didn’t have our best. They played last night and played a pretty solid game. They didn’t give us much. We had an early lead and they came back. … we tried to come back in the end and came up short.” -- Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas
“You hate to dwell on games long. Give it five, 10 minutes and then find a way to park the game, move on and start focusing on the next one. It’s not going to get any easier. We know that. It’s going to be extremely tough the rest of the way. It’s going to be extremely tight. We’ve got to focus on the next game at hand and keep going at that.” -- Stars forward Steve Ott
*The Stars are 3-5-2 in their last 10 home games.
*The Stars were 1-for-4 on the power play Tuesday and are 2-for-19 on the power play over the last six games.
*Jamie Benn had one goal and two assists, extending his points streak to eight games (7 goals, 4 assists).
*Benn had eight shots on goal, a career-high.
*Mike Ribeiro has 13 points (6 goals, 7 assists) in the last 13 games.
The Sharks outshot Dallas 15-9 in the first 20 minutes. Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen had several sharp saves, including one on Joe Pavelski with about 3:34 left in the period.
There were no penalties in the first period and no power plays.
Brian Sutherby and Mark Fistric were scratches for the Stars. Adam Burish missed his second straight game with a lower body injury.
The Stars took the lead 3:28 into the second period when Mike Ribeiro circled out from behind the San Jose net into the slot and beat Sharks goalie Antti Niemi with a wrist shot.
The Stars lost Eriksson a short time later when he took a hit to the head during a collision in the neutral zone with Sharks defenseman Doug Murray. Ott challenged Murray to fight after the next faceoff, taking an instigator penalty and putting the Sharks on a power play.
But it was he Stars who took advantage, scoring their 10th shorthanded goal of the season. Benn circled around the San Jose net and centered the puck to Toby Petersen, who pushed it past Niemi to give Dallas a 2-0 lead at the 5:08 mark.
But the Sharks got on the board just after their power play expired when Dan Boyle’s shot from the point was deflected into the net by Joe Thornton at the 6:23 mark.
The Sharks got 58 seconds of 5-on-3 power play time later in the period and cashed in to tie the game at 2. With Brenden Morrow in the box for high sticking and Benn in for delay of game, Dany Heatley backhanded a rebound past Kari Lehtonen at the 12:40 mark of the second period.
The Sharks scored two goals 1:40 apart early in the third period to take a 4-2 lead. Joe Pavelski stole the puck from Jeff Woywitka in the corner and set up Ryane Clowe, who scored from the slot at the 1:51 mark to make it a 3-2 game.
After taking the puck from Jamal Mayers, Pavelski then set up Torrey Mitchell on 2-on-1 and Mitchell scored from close range to make it a 4-2 game at 3:31 of the third period.
The Stars got their second power play of the game seven minutes into the period and scored to make it a 4-3 game when Benn backhanded a rebound past Niemi with 11:49 remaining in the game.
The Stars got their third power play of the game with just over four minutes left, but couldn’t cash in. Lehtonen did come up with a big save, stopping Thornton on a shorthanded breakaway to keep it a 4-3 game.
Just after that Stars power play expired, Dallas got its fourth when Logan Couture took a delay of game penalty with 2:01 left. The Stars pulled Lehtonen for the extra attacker, but Thornton stole the puck from Brad Richards and scored into the empty net to make it 5-3 with 1:08 remaining. Healtley scored another empty net goal with 41 seconds left to make it a 6-3 game.
Scratched: Sutherby, Fistric
Injured: Burish (lower body)
Power play units
Penalty kill units
Jason Plank at the Sharks' blog Fear the Fin answered some San Jose questions in preparation for tonight's game:
Q: Give us a scouting report on the Sharks. What's good? What's bad?
A: The Sharks recently broke a five game losing streak with a win against Anaheim on Thursday, and during that span they had a load of trouble getting secondary scoring -- Manny Malhotra has been the only non top-six forward to find the back of the net during the last six games. It was an issue in the playoffs last season, and with Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau accounting for roughly 40% of the team's goals up to this point, there is definite room for improvement from the lower lines.
The blueline is also a concern -- we've had our eye on it since the beginning of the year, and there hasn't been enough consistency amongst the unit as a whole to confidently say that it won't pose some issues for the team moving forward. The loss of Christian Ehrhoff to Vancouver this offseason and Rob Blake's decline in number have hurt the team offensively, which has highlighted the defensive miscues that may have been masked last season with the lack of a premier shutdown defenseman.
The issue with these holes, of course, is the lack of cap space Doug Wilson has to work with. The Sharks are pushed right up against the cap, and don't have a lot of expendable pieces to move that make enough in the salary department. If they move a forward they likely lose a 20+ goal scorer, and if they move a defenseman they risk sacrificing a strong team in the future -- it's really a pick your poison type deal, as all of the assets that would yield a significant return are fairly large pieces to the current puzzle.
The good? San Jose is a Cup contending team, as they always are at this time of the year. Top to bottom this roster could be considered the best San Jose has ever iced.
Q: Talk about Joe Thornton and what kind of season he's having. What makes him so solid?
A: Thornton's a special player who can control a game below the dots-- for all the punishment he takes on a nightly basis from opposing team's shutdown pairings, it's amazing how effective he has managed to be. His vision with the puck is exceptional; coupled with the fact that he has yet to miss a game in a San Jose uniform, that reliability plays a huge part in being able to build a consistently dangerous line around him.
It's no secret that players tend to have breakout goal scoring years when playing with him.
Q: What kind of impact is Dany Heatley having on this team?
A: For all of the perceived baggage Heatley was potentially bringing over from Ottawa, those aspects haven't shown up in the locker room as far as the general fan can tell. However, he's asked out of two teams before, and while I don't envision that being a problem for San Jose as long as they're still a contender, you still hold some reservations in the back of your mind if things do end up going south.
On the ice he's obviously a huge factor, and has provided San Jose with a pure sniper that they've never really had before (Cheechoo's Rocket Richard year being the exception here). McLellan has actually broken Thornton and him up the last two games in order to get Devin Setoguchi going-- it's a short term solution that I don't agree with (Marleau being my pick to play on Pavelski's wing), and while I think the coaching staff will eventually put him back on the top line where he belongs, it's a little confusing.
Q: Fans are interested in former Stars player Manny Malhotra. How is he doing?
A: Malhotra's been a godsend for San Jose, especially after news came out he rejected a four year deal worth two million per year to sign for nearly the league minimum -- while I'm essentially considering him a rental player who, due to the aforementioned cap issues, won't be re-signed next offseason, it's still nice to know that San Jose can attract some high impact free agents in areas of need. The organization has historically had a lot of trouble in that department.
With Manny you're obviously getting a defensive-minded forward first and foremost, and that's a big plus when it comes to reducing the shorthanded minutes of our premier players like Pavelski and Marleau. Toss in the fact that he's been chipping in on the scoresheet and there's no complaints here.
Q: Breakdown the Sharks' special teams for us.
A: The power play has hit a rut in December, and Todd McLellan has described the top unit in the past as, "The Globetrotters." They look good moving the puck, but don't really do much in the way of generating scoring opportunities. San Jose tends to struggle when they try to run everything through Joe Thornton surprisingly, as he's not a shooting threat and will try and force passes into the low slot when the shot from the point isn't clicking. Running it through a guy like Patrick Marleau, who's a much more dynamic stick handler when driving the net, usually yields more positive results. If you shift the attention away from Big Joe he becomes that much more dangerous when threading the needle on touch passes.
The PK has been rock solid. A large part is due to the recent acquisitions of Nichol and Malhotra, along with contributions from some unlikely sources in Heatley and Thornton as well. Pavelski and Marleau have been fixtures on this unit from last year-- when your big guns are as committed to playing on both ends of the ice as those two are, it trickles down the lineup.
Q: Who can the Stars expect to see in goal tonight? Tell us about him.
A: Evgeni Nabokov will be in net tonight, and I'm sure Stars fans are as familiar with him as Sharks fans are as familiar with Marty Turco. He's had a good year thus far, and has managed to reduce the amount of five-hole goals he's given up-- it's been his achilles heel the last two seasons, which isn't all too surprising. Nabokov likes to heavily challenge shooters, and with his increasing age, you can see the reflexes are starting to slide a bit.
He's been getting a heavy workload this year as well. I'm not sure that's an effective gameplan from an assets management standpoint-- Nabby is the likely starter for Team Russia at the Winter Olympics, and with the compressed schedule this season, that workload may begin to show up as we make our way into the last quarter of the year.
Q: Which players should Stars fans be special attention to tonight?
A: I'm sure Stars fans are familiar with the majority of San Jose's roster due to playing them frequently, so I'll go off the board here and say Jason Demers who has played one game against Dallas this season. He was a relative unknown coming into camp that managed to find a way onto the bottom pairing, and models his game off Dan Boyle. Strong puck mover who can skate, and while he runs into trouble occasionally when forcing breakout passes up the middle of the ice, there's some definite improving offensive acumen he brings to the table. That being said, if I'm Crawford I attack that pairing (Kent Huskins is his partner) with the last change at home. They started the season strong, but tailed off around game twenty five or so, resulting in Demers being sent down to the minor league affiliate for two weeks to work on his game.
Jamie McGinn is also a player to watch tonight on the third line, and has all of the tools to become a 25-30 goal scorer down the road. He'll throw his weight around on the forecheck and can cycle the puck, as well as possessing some good hands and a long skating stride.
Q: Injury report?
A: San Jose ran into some injury issues to start the year, but by now the team is largely healthy. Brad Staubitz and Jody Shelley are questionable tonight, so Frazer McLaren will assume the duties of keeping that rascal Steve Ott in check.
Q: Anything else Stars fans should know about the Sharks?
A: Games with Dallas are always tight affairs, and I expect nothing less tonight. What you see is what you get with these division matchups.