Lehtonen, Stars shut out Sharks
DALLAS -- The Stars are on the brink of being eliminated from playoff contention, but thanks to Curtis McKenzie, who scored the game’s lone goal, and Kari Lehtonen, who stopped all 30 shots he faced, Dallas gave the home fans something to cheer about Monday.
The Stars posted a 1-0 win over the San Jose Sharks at American Airlines Center.
“I thought we did a lot of good things for a complete 60 minutes,” Dallas coach Lindy Ruff said. “Put the puck in the right places, and played well in our own end, and played well through the neutral zone.”
Lehtonen recorded his second shutout of the season and the 36th of his career. His first shutout since Nov. 3 at Colorado allowed Dallas (29-33-10) to improve to 19-12-6 at home.
“It’s been a tough year, so it’s something after a game like this it feels especially good. Just the way we played the whole 60 minutes, it was really cool,” Lehtonen said. “Guys were blocking shots and getting all the rebounds. They were making simple plays, not turning the puck over like we’ve had in the past, so that was nice.”
The Sharks (42-23-7) were shut out for just the fifth time this season. San Jose has now lost three consecutive games for the second time this season, the first time since November.
San Jose has scored just one goal over its three straight losses.
“Chances are there, so we just got to bear down and we got to get one dirty or ugly around the net, we got to get one on the power play some way, somehow to take a little pressure off the group because it’s hard to win when you’re only getting one or no goals like we have the last couple of games,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. “It’s not all bad by any means. There’s a lot of good that’s going on, but right now we’re cold, but we’re paying a price for that.”
Following a scoreless opening period where the Sharks and Stars combined for just 14 shots, McKenzie redirected an Adam Cracknell wrister for his fifth goal of the season with 5:06 remaining in the second period. McKenzie was dead center in front of the Sharks net when he got his stick on Cracknell’s flick from the deep left point.
“I just found myself open in front, so I was able to get a tip in there,” McKenzie said. “I was kind of waving the flag. Not often you get that much time in front, so I was just doing anything to make sure he saw me in front there.”
Dallas had one prime opportunity in the opening 20 minutes, but Sharks goaltender Aaron Dell, who stopped 19 of 20 shots, denied Cody Eakin’s one-timer at close range with 6:03 remaining before the first intermission.
Dell had another big save with 1:00 remaining in the second period when he turned away a Brett Ritchie shot off the rush with a glove save at the near post. Dell left the ice with 1:57 remaining.
San Jose finishes the back-to-back Tuesday night in Minnesota. Dallas next plays Thursday at Chicago.
“We can’t hang our head,” Sharks center Joe Pavelski said. “This team never does. Just got to find a way to be a little bit better.”
NOTES: The Sharks scratched D Dylan DeMelo, RW Jannik Hansen (undisclosed), C Melker Karlsson and C Chris Tierney (illness), who missed his first game of season. ... The Stars scratched D Stephen Johns, LW Antoine Roussel (hand) and C Jason Spezza (back). ... Sharks D Brenden Dillon and D David Schlemko are former Stars. ... Stars G Antti Niemi once played in San Jose. ... Monday was Veterans Appreciation Night. A local serviceman performed the ceremonial puck drop, another veteran was given a service dog during the first intermission and another a car during the second period. ... San Jose is starting a four-game road trip with all games against clubs from the Central Division. ... The former Pacific Division rivals meet again Friday evening in Dallas.