Dallas Stars: Erik Christensen

The Dallas Stars continue to roll along and so does goaltender Kari Lehtonen. The Dallas netminder stopped 25 shots for his second straight shutout and his third in his last nine starts as the Stars ran their winning streak to six games and their points streak to 11 games (10-0-1).

“The last month he’s brought his game to a new level,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “Yeah, the shutout, but just how clean he was with the rebound control I think is what was most impressive. He’s given the guys the belief that he’s not going to let any in.”

Over his last nine starts Lehtonen is 8-0-1 with a 1.29 goals against average, .955 save percentage and three shutouts.

“He stops every puck pretty much,” said Stars forward Jamie Benn, who scored the game’s only goal. “The guy is a workhorse. He is unbelievable back there and, once again, he showed it tonight.”

Lehtonen wasn’t tested often, but he came up with some key stops, making saves on Erik Christensen and Kyle Brodziak’s rebound attempt in the second period. And then with 3.2 seconds left in the game he denied Brodziak’s bid to tie the game with a point blank shot.

“One heck of a save,” said Gulutzan. “The only thing I didn’t like about it was he looked behind him, but he had it squeezed in there tight. But that gives a coach a heart attack. That’s just the kind of goaltending we’ve been getting from Kari.”

Lehtonen is currently on a 128:32 shutout streak.

“We played really solid, especially five-on-five,” said Lehtonen. ”They got a couple of chances on the power play. It was just good to get the win and just enough goals for us.”

The lone goal of the game at 3:46 of the third period and just after the Stars killed off Minnesota’s fourth power play of the game. With Dallas on the rush, a Brenden Morrow pass deflected off a Minnesota stick and right onto the stick of Benn, who roofed a shot over Wild goalie Matt Hackett.

“It deflected off something there and I tried to get it to the net as fast as I could,” Benn said. “It came off my stick pretty hot there.”

And the goal kept the Stars hot. The six-game winning streak is one short of the franchise mark of seven. It also was their sixth straight win on the road. They upped their lead in the Pacific Division to four points and increased their lead over ninth place in the Western Conference to five points.

The win wasn’t a Picasso, as the saying goes, but it was two points and in the West, where teams chasing the Stars keep picking up points, they were two key points.

“In the end we got two points and that’s what we came here for,” said Benn. “We’re not trying to make it pretty out there. We’re just trying to keep it ugly, play a simple game and that’s why we are successful right now.”

Notes

*The Stars were 4-4 on the penalty kill in the game. They are 34-35 (97.1%) on the PK over their last 11 games.

*Stars defenseman Sheldon Souray (lower body) and right wing Radek Dvorak (ankle) missed Tuesday’s game.

*Toby Petersen, Jake Dowell and Jordie Benn were healthy scratches for Dallas.

*Stars forward Michael Ryder had his nine-game points streak snapped.

*The back-to-back shutouts by Kari Lehtonen were the first for the Stars since December 2006, when Marty Turco shutout San Jose and Phoenix in consecutive games.

Stars top Wild for sixth straight win

March, 13, 2012
3/13/12
7:46
PM CT


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.

First period

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.

Second period

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.

Third period

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.

Stars lineup

Eriksson-Ribeiro-Ryder
Morrow-Benn-Ott
Nystrom-Fiddler-Burish
Garbutt-Wandell-Vincour

Fistric-Robidas
Goligoski-Larsen
Pardy-Daley

Lehtonen (starter)
Bachman

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.”

Notes

*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.

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