Dallas Stars: Michael Ryder

Improving power play a focus for Stars

April, 13, 2012
4/13/12
12:46
AM CT
FRISCO -- It’s no secret that the Dallas Stars power play was a sore spot this season. The numbers are well documented. It was the worst in the league at 13.5 percent. That percentage was the worst in franchise history and the 33 goals scored set a franchise mark for power play futility as well.

But here are some more numbers. The Stars were 20-6-3 this season when they scored on the power play and 22-29-2 when they didn’t. In their 42 wins they were 24-138 on the power play for a 17.4 percent conversion rate. In games they didn’t win they were 9-106 or 8.5 percent.

The power play was a hot topic the Stars faded away in the playoff race and it was still a topic as the Stars held exit interviews and met with the media this week.

“I am sure that will be number one on Glen Gulutzan’s agenda this summer, breaking that down and analyzing,” Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk said of the power play. “There was a lot of discussion about Jamie Benn not being out there as much as some other guys. There was a time period where Mike Ribeiro, Michael Ryder and Loui Eriksson were kind of carrying this team and having some success, but it didn’t translate on the power play for any of our guys and we’re really going to have dig in hard and figure out why.”

When asked about possible offseason moves, Nieuwendyk mentioned the power play as an area that needed to be addressed.

Gulutzan said the Stars had the personnel to have a better power play this season, but they just didn’t get the job done.

“I don’t think we need to bring in anyone for the power play. As coaches I think we can do a better job,” Gulutzan said. “The power play comes with a little bit of confidence and that got in our kitchens a little bit. I think we’d go about thing somewhat differently with our power play, but we changed it four or five times. Everybody focuses a little bit on the end, but we were getting pressure from day one to game 82 on that thing. We changed it four times and who played with who four times, and I think it just got in our kitchen a little bit.”

Gulutzan has some valid points. The Stars’ power play woes took center stage after a dismal performance in the loss to San Jose that basically doomed its playoff chances, but it was erratic for most of the year. And there were a lot of different combinations of players used over the season, too. The only constant was that it struggled most of the time. There were a few good runs on the power play, but they were offset by some long stretches of low productivity.

“It’s the number one part we have to get better at,” said Stars forward Loui Eriksson. “We have to score more on the power play, that’s the way we can win more games. … We have to outwork them. We’ve been a little too sloppy sometimes. We need to put more pucks to the net, too. I think that’s how you score goals. You have to get traffic in front and put pucks there. Then rebounds will come out and you will score more goals. That’s something we need to do.”

It didn’t help that the Stars had only 244 power play opportunities, the third lowest total in the league, and that they were shorthanded 303 times, the fourth most in the league. Despite having a respectable penalty kill that ranked 13th in the league, they still gave up 19 more power play goals than they scored.

“Certainly we think it’s an area we where we can get four or five more points by having a better power play,” said Gulutzan. “Along with discipline, we can get four or five more points and we’re not minus-60 as far as penalties for and against. But as far as personnel goes, I think we have the personnel here to have a good power play.”

Thursday update: Line juggling

April, 5, 2012
4/05/12
1:19
PM CT
Stars coach Glen Gulutzan juggled his lines during Tuesday's loss to San Jose, and he'll roll out different lines for Thursday's game in Nashville.

Brenden Morrow will move to a line with Mike Ribeiro and Loui Eriksson. Michael Ryder will now play with Jamie Benn and Steve Ott.

"(Morrow) is feeling a lot better here lately, the last couple games," Gulutzan said. "We'll get a change and try to spread out some of the offense with Benny and Rydes there. We're going to play a real team game."

Right wing Radek Dvorak will be back in the lineup after missing the last five games with an ankle injury. He'll be back on a line with Eric Nystrom and Vernon Fiddler.

Kari Lehtonen is in goal for the Stars. Pekka Rinne is the likely starter in goal for the Predators.

March by the numbers

April, 1, 2012
4/01/12
11:15
PM CT
March turned out to be an up-and-down month for the Dallas Stars. They were 6-0-0 to start the month, but finished it 3-6-0 to end up 9-6-0 overall.

They were eighth in the West when the month began with a one-point lead over the ninth spot and four points out of the Pacific Division lead. At the end of the month they were ninth in the West, one point out of a playoff spot and two points out of the division lead.

In those first six games they averaged 2.67 goals per game and held their opponents to 1.33 goals per game. Over the last nine games they scored an average of 2.22 goals per game and allowed 3.22.

Michael Ryder (nine), Jamie Benn (eight), Loui Eriksson (five) and Mike Ribeiro (four) scored 26 of the Stars’ 36 goals in the month, or 72 percent of the goals. Only Brenden Morrow and Tomas Vincour, who each had two goals, scored more than once during the month.

The power play was 5-41 (12.2 percent) for the month and the Stars were ranked 30th in the league on the power play at the end of March at 14.1 percent.

The Stars were 48-55 (87.3 percent) on the penalty kill during the month. They were 17-17 in the first six games, and 31-38 (81.6 percent) over the last nine games.

Here’s a look at the team stats for the month along with how they stack up to previous months this season:

Stars drop to ninth after loss to Sharks

March, 31, 2012
3/31/12
10:21
PM CT


The Dallas Stars fell to ninth place in the Western Conference after a 3-0 loss in San Jose on Saturday night and trail the eighth-place Sharks by a point. The two teams meet again Tuesday in Dallas.

The loss was the sixth in the last nine games for the Stars, who were outshot 34-22. The Stars, who have three games left, trail seventh-place Phoenix by two points. The Stars also trail Pacific Division leader Los Angeles by two points.

Joe Pavelski scored two goals for San Jose. Sharks goalie Antti Niemi stopped 22 shots for his sixth shutout of the season. Kari Lehtonen made 31 saves for Dallas.

First period

The Sharks struck in the first minute of the game to take a 1-0 lead. Joe Thornton sent the puck into the slot to Joe Pavelski, who whipped the puck past Kari Lehtonen at the 58 second mark.

The Sharks had three power plays in the period and cashed in on the third one to take a 2-0 lead late in the period. Martin Havlat sent a pass across the crease to Jason Demers, who scored from the right circle with 1:22 left in the first.

The Stars had one power play in the period and had a great scoring chance, but Justin Braun got a stick on Michael Ryder’s attempt on a wide open side of the net.

The Sharks outshot the Stars 12-6 in the period.

Second period

The Sharks extended their lead to 3-0 with a goal while the teams were playing at four-on-four. Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s shot from the point was tipped home by Joe Pavelski at the 9:39 mark of the second.

Stars coach Glen Gulutzan did a lot of line juggling in the second and the Stars did create some chances late in the period, but Sharks goalie Antti Niemi made a couple of sharp saves to keep them off the board.

Stars forward Jake Dowell and Sharks forward Andrew Desjardins dropped the gloves in the period.

San Jose outshot the Stars 15-8 in the second and a 27-14 advantage through two periods.

Third period

There was no scoring in the period.

The Stars did kill of a lengthy San Jose five-on-three power play.

Stars forward Ryan Garbutt and San Jose’s Torrey Mitchell dropped the gloves in the period.

Stars lineup

Eriksson-Ribeiro-Ryder
Ott-Benn-Burish
Morrow-Dowell-Petersen
Garbutt-Fiddler-Vincour

Souray-Robidas
Fistric-Daley
Goligoski-Larsen

Lehtonen (starter)
Bachman

Stars fall to Canucks, 5-2

March, 30, 2012
3/30/12
9:45
PM CT


The Dallas Stars were knocked out of first place in the Pacific Division after losing 5-2 at Vancouver on Friday night. Los Angeles, a 4-1 winner at Edmonton, took over the top spot in the division. The Stars are now seventh in the Western Conference.

The Stars, who have lost five of their last eight games, play at ninth place San Jose Saturday. They lead the Sharks by one point.

Steve Ott and Jake Dowell scored for the Stars. Kari Lehtonen stopped 26 of 30 shots in 49:59 of playing time for the Stars. Richard Bachman played the final 10:01 and stopped three of four shots.

Cory Schneider stopped 28 of 30 for the Canucks, who won their fifth straight game.

First period

Both teams had some good chances early in the period, but the Canucks struck first at the 6:17 mark. Jannik Hansen got to a puck along the right boards and backhanded it to Chris Higgins, who beat Kari Lehtonen with a quick shot from the slot.

Roberto Luongo was expected to start for the Canucks, but Cory Schneider was announced as the starter just before game time. He was superb in the first period, making 13 saves. He had a couple of sharp saves on Jamie Benn along with good stops on Michael Ryder and Mike Ribeiro in the period.

Vancouver had the only power play of the period. The Stars had a 13-7 edge in shots.

Second period

The Stars tied the game at 3:16 of the second. After Jamie Benn put a shot on net off a faceoff, Steve Ott got to the rebound and slipped it past Cory Schneider to make it a 1-1 game.

After that it was a series of quality saves by Schneider and Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen.

Lehtonen had a save on Samuel Pahlsson and two on Chris Higgins. On the Canucks second power play of the game Schneider made a big shorthanded stop on Ott and then made a spectacular save on a shorthanded bid by Loui Eriksson. He made another shorthanded save on Vernon Fiddler on Vancouver’s third power play.

The Canucks took the lead on that third power play when Sami Salo’s blast from the right point went through traffic and past Lehtonen with 8:39 left in the period.

The Canucks made it 3:35 left in the second. Moments after Schneider stopped Jake Dowell, the Canucks went the other way and Henrik Sedin found defenseman Andrew Alberts, who scored off a blast from the left circle.

The Canucks outshot the Stars 20-13 in the second period and had a 27-26 advantage through two periods.

Third period

Reilly Smith got bumped up to a line with Benn and Ott to start the third, and Smith hit the post early in the period. But the Canucks scored twice in a 2:12 to blow the game open. Henrik Sedin set up Alex Burrow, who scored from close range a the 9:06 mark to make it a 4-1 game.

The Stars pulled Lehtonen in favor of Richard Bachman a short time later and the Canucks quickly scored to make it a 5-1 game when a wide open Max Lapierre scored from the slot at the 11:18 mark.

Jake Dowell scored late for the Stars to round out the scoring.

Stars lineup

Eriksson-Ribeiro-Ryder
Ott-Benn-Vincour
Morrow-Fiddler-Burish
Smith-Dowell-Garbutt

Souray-Robidas
Pardy-Daley
Goligoski-Larsen

Lehtonen (starter)
Bachman

Injured: Fistric (abdominal strain), Dvorak (ankle), Nystrom (leg)
Scratched: Petersen, Wandell, Jordie Benn


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.

Postgame quotes

March, 29, 2012
3/29/12
12:02
AM CT
Here are some postgame quotes following the Dallas Stars 3-1 win in Edmonton on Wednesday night.

Stars coach Glen Gulutzan

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

“We were a little shaky early and Lehts (Kari Lehtonen) was solid and made some real big saves. I thought we got our legs and made some nice plays, but it was a tough game.”

Gulutzan on Kari Lehtonen, who made 31 saves

“He’s an elite goalie; he’s up there with the big guys. 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.”

Stars forward Michael Ryder

“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. 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.”

Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen on his save on Jordan Eberle’s shorthanded breakaway

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

Stars forward Reilly Smith on his NHL debut

“I was just happy that my feet got under me as soon as I hopped over the bench. I was definitely pretty nervous. I actually got a pretty good opportunity my shift. That settled the nerves a little bit. I am pretty happy with the way things went.”

Oilers coach Tom Renney

“We felt right into the trap. They played a good road game and we tried to do some extraordinary things, we turned the puck over and they scored. We weren’t very good in our own end defensively and that includes the forecheck.”

Stars down Oilers, 3-1

March, 28, 2012
3/28/12
9:17
PM CT
Michael Ryder scored two goals and had one assist to lead the Dallas Stars to a 3-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night.

The victory moved the Stars into first place in the Pacific Division.

Ryder’s goals were his 34th and 35 of the season. Mike Ribeiro had one goal and two assists for the Stars and Loui Eriksson chipped in two assists. Kari Lehtonen stopped 31 of 32 shots.

Stars forward Reilly Smith made his NHL debut in the game. He played 4:05 and one shot on goal.

First period

The Stars had the first power play chance of the game, but the Oilers had the best scoring chance on a two-on-one. Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen came up with a big save, stopping Nick Schultz’s close range bid.

The Stars took the lead on a goal by Michael Ryder, who split two Oilers defensemen off the rush and beat Edmonton goalie Devan Dubnyk with a backhand shot at the 11:53 mark.

Lehtonen came up with another big save later in the period, stopping a close range bid by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

Stars forward Reilly Smith, who was making his NHL debut in the game, had a shot on his first shift. He played 2:37 in the period.

The Stars were 0-2 on the power play and the Oilers had no power play chances.

Dallas had a 13-12 shots advantage.

Second period

The Stars extended their lead to 2-0 when Mike Ribeiro finished off a give-and-go with Loui Eriksson on a two-on-one rush at 5:05 of the second.

The Oilers got their first power play of the night eight minutes into the second, but Kari Lehtonen came up with sharp saves on Jeff Petry and Ales Hemsky to keep Edmonton off the board.

The Oilers got a second power play later in the period, but weren’t able to generate any shots.

The Stars came close to making it a 3-0 game, but Michael Ryder’s breakaway bid late in the period was turned away by Devan Dubnyk.

Third period

The Stars opened the period with a power play, but the Oilers had the best scoring chance. Jordan Eberle had a breakaway, but his backhand shot was turned way to keep the Stars up 2-0 in the game.

Dallas made it 3-0 at the 4:11 mark when Loui Eriksson won a puck battle behind the Edmonton goal line, sent it to Ribeiro, who then set up Ryder, who scored his second of the night from close range.

The Oilers finally got on the board with 11:39 left in the game when Ales Hemsky scored off a rebound to make it a 3-1 game.

Stars lineup

Eriksson-Ribeiro-Ryder
Ott-Benn-Burish
Morrow-Fiddler-Vincour
Garbutt-Dowell-Smith

Souray-Robidas
Pardy-Daley
Goligoski-Larsen

Lehtonen (starter)
Bachman

Injured: Dvorak (ankle), Nystrom (leg), Fistric (abdominal strain)
Scratched: Wandell, Petersen, Jordie Benn
DALLAS -- With a big two points on the line Saturday afternoon goaltender Kari Lehtonen came up big for the Dallas Stars, leading the way in a 4-1 victory over the Calgary Flames at American Airlines Center.

“Tonight our start got us a 2-0 lead and our goalie did the rest,” Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said.

Jamie Benn and Michael Ryder scored goals in the first 7:17 and Lehtonen made sure the Flames could never catch up, stopping 35 of 36 shots.

“I can’t say much more (about Lehtonen). We keep talking about elite,” Gulutzan said.” Just hope it keeps going."

The win pushed the Stars into first place in the Pacific Division and third place in the Western Conference, but whether they’ll be there at the end of the night depends on the rest of Saturday’s games.

It was a huge loss for the 11th place Flames, who fell four points behind the Stars and saw their winless streak hit five games (0-2-3) despite outshooting Dallas, 36-20.

“Well, the first five minutes or so we were standing and watching. We weren’t moving our feet. Then we got going and we played a pretty darn good hockey game after that,” Flames coach Brent Sutter said. “We didn’t give them much, hardly any shots at all. Their goaltender definitely was first star tonight, no question about that.”

Lehtonen, who picked up an assist in the game as well, was particularly impressive in the second and third periods, stopping all 29 shots he faced as the Stars held onto a 2-1 lead until the final minutes when they were finally able to add a couple of goals.

“That was fun. I felt I haven’t been my best the last three games, so it was nice to be able to help out and get some good saves,” Lehtonen said. “It’s just great to get two points.”

Lehtonen got all the goal support he would need early in the game. Benn scored on a wrap-around 1:37 into the game to put the Stars up 1-0. Michael Ryder made it a 2-0, taking a pass from Mike Ribeiro and firing a shot from the right circle past Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff.

“[The strong start] was huge,” Benn said. “That’s something we want to do, we want to see if teams are ready. We learned our lesson against Chicago when they came out and gave it to us in the first couple minutes. That’s what we want to do to teams.”

The Flames’ Mike Cammalleri scored off a one-timer from the right circle at 12:27 of the first to make it a 2-1 game.

After that it was the Kari Lehtonen Show. At one point the shots over the final two periods were 26-9 in favor of Calgary, but the Flames couldn’t get another puck past Lehtonen.

“His level is rising in important games,” Gulutzan said of Lehtonen. “They threw a lot of bodies at him, but he’s a big guy and he fights through it.”

Benn sealed the win for the Stars, scoring his second of the night with 3:33 left in regulation. Steve Ott sent a cross-ice pass to Benn, who beat Kiprusoff with a blast from the right circle.

Stars captain Brenden Morrow round scored into an empty net with 1:28 remaining to make it a 4-1 final.

The two teams will meet again Monday night in Calgary.

Notes

*The Stars honored former defenseman Karlis Skrastins prior to Saturday’s game. Skrastins was killed when the plane carrying his KHL team crashed in Russia last September. A framed set that included an autographed Skrastins jersey, photo and puck raised $2,750 at silent auction held during the game.

*The Stars were 4-4 on the penalty kill in the game and are now 51-54 (94.4 percent) on the PK over their last 16 games.

*Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen has a two-game points streak, picking up assists in each of the last two games. The last Dallas goalie to pick up assists in consecutive games was Marty Turco in November 2007.

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

*Stars defenseman Mark Fistric missed his second straight game with an abdominal strain.

*Saturday’s attendance was 17,238.

Stars-Canucks Preview

March, 21, 2012
3/21/12
11:12
PM CT
Vancouver Canucks at Dallas Stars
Thursday March 22
7:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: KTCK-1310 (AM)

About the Stars

The Stars (40-28-5) are coming off a 4-3 shootout win over Phoenix Tuesday that kept them sitting on top of the Pacific Division and in third place in the Western Conference. The Stars weren’t entirely pleased with the effort. They gave up a 3-1 lead in the third period and gave one point to a team chasing them in the standings.

“I think we did good things but we’ve got to find ways to keep that two-goal lead and not give those guys a chance to get back into the game,” said Stars forward Michael Ryder, who scored two goals. “We made a couple mistakes, a couple turnovers that ended up in our net. We came here for two points and we got that but they got one.”

The Stars have won both games against Vancouver this season – one in overtime and one in regulation, but they aren’t taking in comfort in those two previous contests.

“Obviously one of the elite teams in the league, so we are going to have to be sharp and a lot cleaner than we were against Phoenix,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “For Phoenix not being known as a heavy offensive team, they certainly capitalized on what we gave them. If we do the same to Vancouver, they’ll do the same thing.”

Kari Lehtonen, who made 27 saves Tuesday and was 3-3 in the shootout, is expected to start in goal for Dallas.

Stars forward Jamie Benn, who took an elbow in the head from Shane Doan during Tuesday’s game and another hard hit in overtime, said he was fine on Wednesday and will play in Thursday’s game. Doan was suspended three games by the NHL Wednesday for the hit on Benn.

Injuries: D Mark Fistric (abdominal strain) is out.

About the Canucks

The Canucks (43-22-8) lost 2-1 in overtime at Chicago Wednesday night. The Canucks scored 27 seconds into the game, but Chicago tied it in the second and Andrew’s Shaw goal at 2:42 of overtime won it.

It was the Canucks’ fourth loss in the last five games (1-3-1).

The Canucks lost more than a game. They lost forward Daniel Sedin in the first period after he took an elbow to the head from Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith, who received a minor penalty for elbowing.

“Deliberate, principal point of contact, everything you are trying to take out of the game,” Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said when asked about Keith’s hit. “I expected a major (penalty) and got a minor.”

As for the status of Sedin, Vigneault said the team would know more on Thursday.

“We’ll re-evaluate him tomorrow,” Vigneault said. “He was taken out of the game obviously. Everybody saw the headshot there. We’ll re-evaluate tomorrow and I’ll know more from there.”

Despite the loss, the Canucks felt they had played their best game in a while. They are 3-5-3 over their last 11 games.

“This was by far our best team game in a lot of weeks,” Canucks center Henrik Sedin said. “We won games before, but we haven’t played the way we wanted to. Tonight, everyone showed up.”

Injuries: D Keith Ballard (concussion), C Andrew Ebbett (collarbone) and C Aaron Volpatti (shoulder) are out.

Series notes

*This is the third of four meetings between the two teams.

*Dallas is 2-0-0 in the season series.

*The Canucks are 0-1-1 in the series.

*February 26, at Dallas: Stars 3, Canucks 2 (OT)
March 6, at Vancouver: Stars 5, Canucks 2

Statistical tidbits

*The Stars are 15-4-3 since the All-Star break.

*The Canucks are 13-6-5 since the All-Star break.

*The Canucks have scored on the power play in three of their last 14 games.

*The Stars have allowed a power play goal in three of their last 14 games.

*Dallas is 12-3-0 versus the Northwest Division this season, including 7-1-0 at American Airlines Center.

*Vancouver is 7-5-4 versus the Pacific Division.

*Stars forwards Loui Eriksson, Mike Ribeiro and Michael Ryder have combined for 12 points in the season series against Vancouver this year (6 goals, 6 assists).




DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars got an important two points Tuesday night, but they weren’t thrilled with how they got them. The Stars blew a 3-1 lead in the third period before beating the Phoenix Coyotes 4-3 in a shootout at American Airlines Center.

“I think we did good things but we’ve got to find ways to keep that two-goal lead and not give those guys a chance to get back into the game,” said Stars forward Michael Ryder, who scored two goals and had one assist. “We made a couple mistakes, a couple turnovers that ended up in our net. We came here for two points and we got that, but they got one.”

The win kept the Stars, who snapped a two-game losing streak, in first place in the Pacific Division and third in the Western Conference. The Stars are one point ahead of both Los Angeles and Phoenix in the division and they are now three points ahead of San Jose.

The Stars got a big game from their top line of Loui Eriksson, Mike Ribeiro and Ryder, who scored all three goals for Dallas. Ribeiro also scored the lone goal of the shootout.

“We’ve been working well lately for the past while and we’re reading off each other and working hard and trying to do the right things and it seems to be going in for us,” said Ryder.

Kari Lehtonen was superb in goal, making 27 saves in regulation and overtime and stopping all three shooters in the shootout.

“He gave us the points,” Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said of Lehtonen’s performance.

The Stars struck first in the game, getting a goal from Eriksson off the rush just 2:12 into the game. The Coyotes answered a little more than three minutes later on a goal by Lauri Korpikoski.

The Stars took a 2-1 lead on a power play goal by Ryder at the 5:26 mark and less than 30 seconds later there was a major scrum after Phoenix captain Shane Doan caught Stars forward Jamie Benn in the head with an elbow. A total of 64 penalty minutes were handed out, including fighting majors to Doan and Stars captain Brenden Morrow.

Gulutzan did not like Doan’s hit on Benn.

“I think it is a suspendable offense. He targeted the head with his elbow,” Gulutzan said. “The league will look at it for sure and decide. But it's deliberate."

Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said he hadn’t seen a replay of the play yet.

“I haven’t looked at it yet but we’ll see how that goes,” Tippett said.

The Stars were able to extend their lead later in the period when Ryder got to a puck in the crease and put it past Coyotes goalie Mike Smith to make it a 3-1 game.

But the Coyotes came back in the third, getting a shorthanded tally from defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and then a power play goal by Ray Whitney to tie the game.

“We shot ourselves in the foot,” said Gulutzan. “We couldn’t get it through our heads that turning the puck over is dangerous.”

Lehtonen came up with big saves down the stretch and in overtime, including a great pad save on Ekman-Larsson in the extra period.

“Yeah, that’s a really good save,” said Ekman-Larsson. “I think I hit the pad there, so yeah, almost.”

In the shootout, Lehtonen stopped Mikkel Boedker, Whitney and Doan.

“I was pretty comfortable there,” Lehtonen said. “We look at lots of tape and have a little clue of what they are doing. I was happy it worked out that way.”

Ribeiro scored the lone goal for the Stars, eluding an aggressive move by Smith and then slipping the puck into the net.

“I didn’t expect [Smith] to come out,” Ribeiro said. “I expected him maybe to poke check, but I guess he was nervous seeing what I was doing, but we shouldn’t have even been there. It should have been over way before that”

Notes

*The Stars lost defenseman Mark Fistric to a pulled muscle in the second period. He did not return to the game.

*Jamie Benn was banged up in overtime, going into the corner boards hard during a collision with Phoenix forward Antoine Vermette. Benn left the game, but then returned for the shootout. He appeared to be fine after the game.

*Adam Pardy, Ryan Garbutt, Tomas Vincour, Toby Petersen and Jordie Benn were healthy scratches for the Dallas Stars.

*The Coyotes were without RW Radim Vrbata (illness) and LW Taylor Pyatt (upper body) for Tuesday’s game.

*Tuesday’s attendance was 17,012.

Postgame quotes

March, 20, 2012
3/20/12
11:15
PM CT
Here are some postgame quotes following the Dallas Stars’ 4-3 shootout victory over the Phoenix Coyotes at American Airlines Center on Tuesday.

Stars coach Glen Gulutzan on giving up the two-goal lead in the third period

“We shot ourselves in the foot. We couldn’t get it through our heads that turning the puck over is dangerous.”

Gulutzan on the play of goaltender Kari Lehtonen

“He gave us the points.”

Gulutzan on Phoenix captain Shane Doan’s hit on Stars forward Jamie Benn

“I think it is a suspendable offense. He targeted the head with his elbow. The league will look at it for sure and decide. But it's deliberate."

Stars forward Michael Ryder

“I think we did good things but we’ve got to find ways to keep that two-goal lead and not give those guys a chance to get back into the game – made a couple mistakes, a couple turnovers that ended up in our net. We came here for two points and we got that but they got one.”

“It was an emotional game and I think everyone was pretty involved and into it. It’s good to see guys with a lot of emotion and standing up for each other.”

Stars center Mike Ribeiro on his line with Michael Ryder and Loui Eriksson, which scored all three Dallas goals

“Those guys are elite players. They can score, pass and play well defensively. They can do everything right on the ice and it’s easy to play with those guys. They’ve been scoring most the goals on our team. They’re just amazing players and it makes my game easy.”

Coyotes coach Dave Tippett

“Well, we made a couple mistakes in the second period to give them a lead and I thought our guys came out with a mindset that we’re just going to go hard at them in the third and find something. If you look at the last part of the game and the overtime, it’s a game we deserved to win.”

Tippett on Doan’s hit on Benn

“I haven’t looked at it yet but we’ll see how that goes.”

Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson on the save that Kari Lehtonen made on him in overtime

“That’s a really good save. I think I hit the pad there, so yeah, almost.”
DALLAS -- Dallas Stars defenseman Mark Fistric chuckled when it was mentioned to him that Tuesday’s game against the Phoenix Coyotes was the biggest of the season -- until the next game.

“Yeah, we’ve been saying that for the last 30 games,” Fistric said with a laugh. “But it’s huge. You look at the standings and where everyone is right now, it’s a huge game. Any way you look at it, it is game one of the playoffs for us.”

After a three day break, Tuesday’s game against the Coyotes kicks off the final ten games of the regular season that will determine if the Stars will make the playoffs.

“We are looking at these ten games like a playoff series,” said Stars captain Brenden Morrow. “We want to win game one.”

The Stars enter Tuesday’s game tied with the Coyotes at 83 points, but the Stars hold the Pacific Division lead because they have played one fewer game than Phoenix and have the better points percentage. A win and the Stars hold onto the division lead. A loss and the Stars are looking up at the Coyotes in the Pacific.

It's not just a battle for the division lead. It's a battle to keep from falling out of the top eight. Both teams are just one point up on ninth place in conference and a loss, especially a regulation loss, moves one of them closer to being out of a playoff spot.

“It’s so tight that one or two games and you can drop out that fast. We understand that and we know what we have to do,” said Stars forward Michael Ryder. “It’s just a matter of us going out there and playing the way we can, and not focus too much on other teams and what they do.”

The two teams have followed similar paths to where they are now - the Stars holding the third seed in the West and the Coyotes sitting in the seventh spot. Both were out of a playoff spot at the All-Star break, but both have put together impressive runs after the break. Phoenix went 11-0-1 at one point, and the Stars were on a 10-0-1 run until losses to Winnipeg (Wednesday) and Chicago (Friday).

“We went on that run and were still not that far ahead. That’s just the way it is. You can’t afford to lose too many in a row,” said Ryder. “With ten games left we’ve got to give it all we can.”

This will be the sixth and final meeting between the two teams this season. The Stars are 2-2-1 in the series, and the Coyotes are 3-0-2, including victories in the last three games.

“It’s going to be a tough game against Phoenix. Both teams are fighting for their lives,” said Morrow. “It’s going to be the first team that blinks that is going to lose the game. We’ve got to play a full 60 minutes.”

And Fistric said it’s going to the Stars playing their game for 60 minutes to secure points against the well-disciplined, defensive-minded Coyotes.

“We’ve got to go in with the mentality to play our game and don’t shy away from it,” said Fistric. “That’s how Phoenix beats teams. They play consistently and force teams to shy away from their game. I think our plan has to be play Stars hockey, and play for a full 60 minutes.”

Notes: Souray, Dvorak probable for Tuesday

Stars defenseman Sheldon Souray (charley horse) and right wing Radek Dvorak (ankle) both practiced Monday and both are probable for Tuesday’s game against Phoenix. Souray has missed the last four games and Dvorak has missed the last three.

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

Stars-Wild Preview

March, 12, 2012
3/12/12
11:05
PM CT
Dallas Stars at Minnesota Wild
Tuesday, March 13
7:00 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest Plus
Radio: KTCK-1310 (AM)

About the Stars

The Stars (38-26-5) ran their winning streak to five games and their points streak to ten (9-0-1) with a 2-0 victory over Anaheim Saturday night. Kari Lehtonen stopped 21 shots for his third shutout of the season.

“Yeah, it’s been fun,” Lehtonen said. “We were not doing well a month ago and then everybody started playing better. We started getting wins. With every win, it gets more exciting.”

Lehtonen will start in goal for the Stars Tuesday.

The Stars recalled D Jordie Benn from Texas (AHL) on Monday.

Injuries: LW Jake Dowell (illness) and RW Radek Dvorak (ankle) are questionable. D Sheldon Souray (lower body) is doubtful.

About the Wild

The Wild (29-30-10) are coming off a 4-3 home loss to Calgary on Sunday. It was the sixth loss in the last seven games for the Wild (1-5-1) and dropped them below .500 for the first time this season. Minnesota was outshot 13-5 in the first period and fell behind the Flames early.

“It’s a little bit maddening. We owe our fans a good game here,” said Wild coach Mike Yeo. “Too many games in a row we’ve come out flat in our own building. We had a lot of guys going, but we didn’t have everybody. … We’re going to play guys that want to play hard.”

Matt Hackett is expected to start in goal for the Wild on Tuesday.

Injuries: F Cal Clutterbuck (illness) is questionable. G Niklas Backstrom (lower body), LW Guillaume Latendresse (concussion), RW Pierre-Marc Bouchard (concussion), D Mike Lundin (lower body), C Mikko Koivu (shoulder) and D Justin Falk (lower body) are out

Series notes

*This is the fourth and final meeting between the two teams this season.

*The Stars are 2-1-0 in the season series.

*The Wild are 1-1-1 in the season series.

*January 21, at Minnesota: Wild 5, Stars 2
*February 4, at Dallas: Stars 2, Wild 1 (SO)
*February 24, at Dallas: Stars 4, Wild 1

Statistical tidbits

*Excluding goals awarded for shootout wins, the Stars have outscored their opposition 31-15 over the last ten games.

*The Stars have won five straight on the road.

*Minnesota has lost three straight at home.

*Dallas is 30-31 (96.8%) on the penalty kill over the last ten games.

*The Stars have not allowed a five-on-four power play goal over the last ten games.

*Minnesota is 0-17 on the power play over the last seven games.

*The Wild have been shutout in three of their last seven games.

*Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen is 7-0-1 in his last eight starts with a 1.45 goals against average, .950 save percentage and two shutouts.

*Stars forward Michael Ryder is on a career-high nine-game point streak (7 goals, 4 assists). It’s the longest active scoring streak in the NHL.

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