Dallas Stars Daily Links: Kari Lehtonen and Stars' Defense Put on a Show Against Chicago Blackhawks

Just about every name you hope to see contributing pitched in during last night's victory. Also, Mike Smith shot a puck into a goal, indirectly, and Tyler Toffoli gave Alex Burrows a shot, directly.

Some quick thoughts from last night before we get to the sumptuous hyperlinks you came here for:

Kari. Last night was top-of-the-line goaltending, no foolin'. Just the other day, I mentioned something about how Kari seems to play best when he's cocky and calm. I'm the furthest thing from a goalie expert (well, not literally the furthest), but last night was that, for 60 minutes. It was simply beautiful to see. These are games that give me hope for Dallas's goalie situation next year.

The power play was huge last night. The Stars probably should have gotten another two or three calls at least, too. When games get as crazy as the one last night, I start to worry about the officials and their penchant for only handing out power plays every so often, even when a team is clearly having to impede/hook/slash the quicker club just to keep up. Every team has to deal with it--Chicago certainly could have had another power play or two given last night as well--but the Stars need their power play to continue to be a weapon in order to reward themselves for long stretches of dominant play like we saw last night. (Note: scoring chances did end up just about even, though.)

Tyler Seguin is most definitely not Tyler Seguin right now, but even "not quite Tyler Seguin" is still one heck of a player to have. It's good to have him back in the lineup again.

Jamie Benn is so impressive when he's protecting the puck in the corners. He uses his frame well, and he's great at yo-yo-ing the pill back and forth as needed to open up a passing lane. This kid is a superstar, which we already knew.

Cody Eakin, man. If you have been wondering whether Eakin might be part of a package for a defenseman this summer, tonight certainly didn't quiet those thoughts. He is quick, and he does have a shot, but he needs to start executing a little more--especially on the top line.

I am a huge Ales Hemsky believer, I really am. Last night might have been one of the only times I wasn't a fan of his fancy-pants game, though. Just seemed like he could have put a couple more points on the board earlier on, but the Hawks were having none of his tomfoolery. Hey, I guess it's worth trying the other team on just to keep 'em honest.

Jason Spezza is so good. We're spoiled with the young, elite players on this roster, but Spezza is world-class, and no mistake. I can't wait to see him in 3-on-3 next year.

I'm not going to dig it up, but there was a sublime zone exit John Klingberg made last night (after an icing, too) that just made me shake my head in awe. This guy's brain processes the game so much more efficiently than most. You really can't overstate the value of a player like that, and we're just seeing the tip of the iceberg. I purposely avoided a pun there.

Jason Demers could really stabilize this defense (or whatever we end up with on the blue line) next year. He had an ill-advised touch pass in the offensive zone that, I think, resulted in the eventual penalty shot for Saad, but he is one of those guys I love having on defense. Not sure I'll ever be able to see him without wondering about Brenden Dillon, but we've got him for now, and I think that is a very good thing.

Last night's game had one of the best paces (until the Stars trapped the heck out of the last portion of the 3rd) of any game this season. Can the commissioner step in and grant the Stars an honorary playoff pass just so everyone can watch Dallas and Chicago duke it out for a couple weeks? That would give us all heart attacks, but man, almost every game between these clubs over the last couple years has been gorgeous television.

One last point: Nemeth and Jokipakka really were fabulous last night. If JJ in particular can really start to leverage his size more, this defense suddenly doesn't need quite as much reshuffling as we may have thought it did back in January. Lindy Ruff was also pleased with those two kids last night, but don't take my word for it: find out for yourself!

* * * * *

Again, can't emphasize goaltending enough. Kari stopped a breakaway, a penalty shot, and an odd-man rush or two, not to mention the various shots he found through screens. Any one of those could have turned the tide of this game, but Kari Lehtonen was Kari Lehtonen last night. What a sight to see. He looked like he could have stopped anything and everything.

Here is the Team Recap from Sir Mark of Stepneski. [Stars]

Here is the AP recap. [CBS Sports]

Alex Goligoski said Kari Lehtonen looked "awesome" last night. Here's Heika's gamer. [DMN]

And here is the Stars Rewind. Why not re-live some of those moments? [Stars Video]

It took me a second to get past the hashtag on this Tweet from Razor. [Twitter]

Jack Campbell won his fourth straight game last night. He made a nifty save or two in the process. [Wrong Side of the Red Line]

The Stars' acquisition of Jason Spezza was one of the top trades of the season, says Allan Muir. [SI]

Minnesota won again. Also, is this headline great or not great? I am going back and forth. [Hockey Wilderness]

Tyler Toffoli's hit on Alex Burrows got him a free ticket to watch the rest of the game last night. Also, could the All-Star Game turn into March Madness next year? [SportsNet]

Mike Smith shot the puck, and it hit a player and bounced into the net! Only problem was that the player was like, five feet away from him. This was a Pittsburgh power play goal. [NHL Video]

Andrew Hammond is 12-0-1 since arriving in Ottawa. [Puck Daddy]

If you would like to listen to Jack Edwards have a stroke while watching a marvelous Tuukka Rask save, click this link. [NHL Video]

Hold up: there were actually a ton of shutouts last night. Yeah, some of the teams involved are terrible, but still. The NHL has an offensive offense problem. [NHL Scores]

It's not hockey, but this is a great piece on Steve Nash's career, and how he changed the game forever, in a good way. [Star]

Finally, please join Razor as he revels in last night's victory. He says "whamsauce!" a lot. It's cool.