Dallas 1 – Minnesota 0
It certainly wasn’t very pretty, but the Dallas Stars have now won a season high six straight games. The difference in this game once again was the stellar performance of Kari Lehtonen, who stopped 25 of 25 shots en route to his second straight shutout and fourth of the season, tying a career high.
The game last night got off to a frustratingly slow start, which I firmly blame Minnesota for (man do they play boring hockey). In the first period, there were few shots and even fewer scoring chances. Nearly every shot from the Stars was from far away and was not screened so Matt Hackett had an easy time stopping them.
The game went back and forth with slow play for much of two periods before it looked like the Wild were beginning to get the upper hand. Near the end of the second period, Minnesota began to put pressure on the Stars and had numerous point blank chances on Kari Lehtonen. Lehtonen was more than up to the task though and he was the reason why Dallas won this game.
Jamie Benn finally broke the deadlock when he scored just three minutes into the third period off a great feed from Brenden Morrow. Morrow was racing down the right wing and passed cross-ice to a wide open Benn. Steve Ott had been breaking towards the net and attracted all the defenders. Morrow used him as a decoy and his backdoor pass to Benn allowed him to easily put it past Hackett.
The goal would be all that Kari Lehtonen needed as he stopped all eight shots in the third period, including one with just three seconds left in the game. A Tom Gilbert shot was blocked by Adam Burish and the puck rolled into the slot, where Kyle Brodziak was waiting. Brodziak had no defenders around him and tried to go glove hand on Lehtonen. Kari though made a fantastic save to seal the win.
The win gives Dallas 83 points and keeps them four points ahead of the Phoenix Coyotes for the division lead. Dallas comes right back tonight for a game against the Winnipeg Jets
more after the jump
- Kari Lehtonen has been a top five goalie since the all-star break. He is 12-4-3 with a 1.85 GAA and a .935 save percentage with three shutouts. The only goalies that have been better are the two goalies from the St. Louis Blues, Jaroslav Halak and Brian Eliott and Corey Schneider of the Vancouver Canucks. Lehtonen is the only regular starter out of the group though so he’s doing his work night after night. If he had not been injured, he would have had a chance at the Vezina this season.
- Michael Ryder had a nine game point streak snapped in this game. He managed three shots on net, including a point blank one that he couldn’t stuff past Hackett’s pads.
- Jamie Benn now has points in four straight games and in six of the seven games since he returned from his leg injury. His goal last night tied his career high in points for a season (56) and he still has three weeks of games left.
- Brenden Morrow is having serious problems staying out of the penalty box. He’s taken five penalties in two games since his return from his injuries. It’s lucky that the Stars’ PK has been so good or he would be in a lot of hot water with the fans.
- Speaking of the PK, it was 4 of 4 in this game and has gone 24 of 24 in the last eight games.
- The Stars were without Radek Dvorak and Sheldon Souray in this game. Without Souray, Mark Fistric got a lot of time on the PK (3:42, tied for most on the team with Stephane Robidas) and he produced results. Fistric blocked four shots in this game but surprisingly didn’t record a hit.
Game Stats and Scoring Summary:
|Power Plays||0 of 2||0 of 4|
1st Period: No goals
2nd Period: No goals
- 3:46 – Jamie Benn (21)
Assist: Brenden Morrow (15)