Dallas Stars, Kari Lehtonen Shut Out Chicago Blackhawks 4-0
Dallas now equals San Jose's point total on March 21st. It's not quite as good as it sounds, though.
A 2014-2015 of misery at the American Airlines Center is seeing a little bit of justice done in the season's waning days.
The Dallas Stars defeated the Chicago Blackhawks and their throng of recently faithful Saturday night by the commanding score of 4-0. This on the heels of doing the same to Sidney Crosby's harem of loyal screamers on Thursday 2-1.
The playoff dream, dim though it may be, won't have itself declared dead just yet.
Leading story lines in this one were abundant. Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky finally helmed a line that would make a significant offensive impact on the game. The Stars owned the special teams battle, scoring twice on the power play while allowing nothing to Chicago. Kari Lehtonen was fantastic in earning the shutout. The Stars earned just their second win of the season at the AAC against the Central. They won two in a row at home for the first time since about the New Year.
Take your pick. It was another evening of fun in front of a deserving home crowd that got the added benefit of watching a lot of red and white slink off to the bathroom mysteriously halfway through the third period that never seem to return.
Fun as it was, it didn't start that way. It started with the Stars under a seemingly superior attack as penalty trouble had Ruff's bunch down in the shot column quite a bit early on and in full survival mode.
A Patrick Eaves tally and a Tyler Seguin power play goal off a juicy rebound corrected their course and the usual second-period dominance then reared its head for a generous portion of play.
Then again, this was one of those games that defies the advanced metrics that so many of us value, over an appropriate time period, of course. The Hawks took the Corsi game by a large measure but the Stars generated so many quality chances that it was a moot point.
Dallas could have easily been up 6-0 halfway through the second period had Curtis McKenzie and Cody Eakin been a little more fortunate. The Stars brought superior energy, woe though I am to use that as an analytic tool in describing a completed contest - and were absolutely shredding the Chicago defense.
Still, the 2-0 score headed into the third likely had Stars fans expecting the turn of the worm in the wake of so many missed opportunities. Hockey is a cruel mistress, and usually works like that.
Instead the Stars halted their capitulation that had marked the last seven minutes of the second period and went back on the offensive, capitalizing on turnovers and penalties as Jason Spezza scored his first career goal against the Hawks and Shawn Horcoff tipped an Alex Goligoski point bid home to build a 4-0 lead.
Kari Lehtonen did the rest, and there was signifcant work to do, including multiple breakaways and a penalty shot in the third. In so doing he record his fifth shutout of the season and was the goaltender the Stars have needed all along. And he sent all those lovely, lovely people home with nary a goal to celebrate. Those people who wore red tonight, and likely blue, white and silver on Sundays in October.
Of course, the Jets won. The Wild won. The Flames got a point. The Stars have won seven of their last nine and have gained no significant ground in so doing. So while this is fun you have the right to ask about any real resultant productivity - I don't think anyone has anything terribly positive or homerific to say on that front.
But there's more good news - the Buffalo Sabres are next on Monday and the Stars have a chance at their first three-game winning streak at home of the season that doesn't involve the Arizona Coyotes.