By Martin Iheke
It turned out to be another good week for your Dallas Stars as they try to salvage their season on a good note. Last Tuesday night in Philadelphia against the Flyers, Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen was looking to record his first career victory against them. After giving up the first goal just barely a minute into the game, Lehtonen settled down and did not allow any more shots to go in. Stars forwards Brett Ritchie and Vern Fiddler scored the two goals for the Stars as they would win, 2-1. Lehtonen had 25 saves in his first win against the Flyers. “That’s goaltending,” Lehtonen said according to NHL.com. “Some nights you get them and some nights you don’t. It seemed to be always the Philly nights when pucks were bouncing in and not hitting me. Tonight was different. That was good.”
Unfortunately, the win would come costly as the Stars would lose rookie defenseman John Klingberg in the 3rd period thanks to a dirty hit at the hands of Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo. He was not hit with a penalty nor did the league at least talk to him about it. He has a history of committing these acts so it was surprising that it was not looked into. This has become a disturbing trend for the Stars. They have already lost a couple players this season because of questionable hits. They do not need any more of this. The best revenge however was the team getting the win.
The Stars played at the Carolina Hurricanes last Thursday night to try and extend their winning streak to two games. The Hurricanes scored the first goal of the game, and then the Stars answered with three unanswered goals in the first period. They scored two more in the third period to preserve a 5-3 win. Despite giving up three goals in the game, the Stars were terrific defensively only giving up 18 shots. After the game, Stars head coach Lindy Ruff talked Lehtonen playing in his 500th career game. “That’s a heck of an accomplishment for a goaltender,” Ruff said according to NHL.com. “He made the big save on the breakaway. I thought we were playing a real sound game. We made a couple mistakes where he covered up.”
The Stars extended their winning streak to three games the next night as they traveled to the nation’s capital and beat the Washington Capitals, 4-2. The power play was a huge weapon for the Stars in this one as they scored three of the four goals with the man-advantage. “We knew that this was going to be a good stretch for us and we wanted to take it 20 minutes at a time. That seems to be working for us, and that’s something we’ll stick to,” Stars forward Vern Fiddler said according to NHL.com. “After the break, we had a few meetings and talked about details in our special teams. I think it’s just a little bit more awareness and everybody’s a little bit more on the same page. It’s starting to pay off in games for us. Our power play’s been really good, and our penalty kill’s taken a leap in the right direction. If you’re going to win games, you’re going to have to have strong special teams, and right now we’re getting it done.”
The Stars finished their five-game Eastern Conference road trip with a 4-1-0 record and sort of put them back in the mix for a playoff spot again. Too bad they could not continue the momentum this past Sunday evening at home against the St. Louis Blues as they were shutout, 3-0. The game was scoreless as it entered the third period before the Blues scored three. The Stars were 0 for 6 on the power play which was a complete opposite from their previous performance against the Capitals. After the game, Stars captain Jamie Benn talked about why they could not produce on the power play against the Blues. “I think they brought a lot of pressure tonight,” Benn said. “We tried to adapt to it by going spread but we just didn’t get the job done tonight.” Whatever slim playoff chance the Stars have, became even slimmer with the loss. One of the reasons for that is their horrible record at home at 13-14-8. Maybe the Stars should play the rest of their games on the road since they are 19-14-2. It would not hurt right now.
3/19 vs Penguins 7:30 pm
3/21 vs Blackhawks 7:00 pm