The Dallas Stars experienced something Sunday night they hadn’t been through since October 28 – a regulation loss on home ice. When the Phoenix Coyotes - behind a 30-save effort by goalie Jason LaBarbera - skated away with a 1-0 victory, it snapped a 13-game points streak at home for the Stars and left them 1-2-1 in their last four games at the AAC.
“After losing the last game before the break and the way we did it - not getting many shots on net – we wanted to come out hard tonight and we really didn’t do that,” said Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas.
The Stars, who had a couple days off for the Christmas, break may have not have started the way they wanted, but they did get a solid performance from goalie Kari Lehtonen, who stopped 25 of 26 shots in the game.
“It was nice to get a couple of days off, but it was the same for them too. I think there was two teams that were a little sloppy out there,” said Lehtonen. “They did a little better than us.”
The Stars had their chances in the game, but LaBarbera was superb. He had a big stop on Jamie Benn in the second period after a great play by Mike Ribeiro to set up the chance. Once play stopped the Benn chance was reviewed to make sure it hadn’t gone in. LaBarbera had made the save.
LaBarbera made a blocker save on a Loui Eriksson penalty shot in the second period when the game was still scoreless.
"It was probably the big play of the game. First, you try to think what their move is as he's coming down the ice," LaBarbera said. "When he came down to the top of the circle, I realized he was going to go low-blocker and I was able to stop it."
After Phoenix forward Kyle Turris put the Coyotes ahead by slipping a rebound around Lehtonen at the 10:46 mark of the second period, LaBarbera continued to hold the fort. He had big saves on Brenden Morrow and Ribeiro in the third period. Loui Eriksson had a great chance in the final minute with Lehtonen pulled for the final attacker, but the shot went high.
“They got a strong goaltending performance, he was the first star of the game, deservedly so,“ Stars coach Marc Crawford said of LaBarbera. “We got a number of chances and once in a while you just get beat by a hot goaltender.”
*Defenseman Nicklas Grossman and center Tom Wandell both missed Sunday's game due to illness.
*Sunday's announced attendance was 17,515