Lehtonen makes 33 saves, Stars blank Blackhawks 4-0
DALLAS (AP) — Kari Lehtonen and the Dallas Stars thrived in a postseason atmosphere on Saturday night.
Lehtonen stopped 33 shots, including a penalty shot, for his fifth shutout this season and 32nd of his career, and Dallas defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-0.
“It definitely sounded on the ice like a playoff game,” Stars defenseman Jordie Benn said.
Dallas might not even reach the playoffs. The Stars have won seven of their last nine games, but Winnipeg, which holds the Western Conference’s last wild-card spot, also won to remain eight points ahead of Dallas with 10 games remaining in the regular season.
“We put ourselves in a tough spot,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “That chase is going to be agonizing. We can’t do anything about Winnipeg winning.”
The Blackhawks, third in the Central Division, had been 6-0-1 in their previous seven games.
Patrick Eaves and Tyler Seguin scored in the first period for Dallas. Shawn Horcoff and Jason Spezza added third-period goals. Eaves and Spezza each added an assist, and Alex Goligoski had two assists.
The Stars scored on two of three power plays. The Blackhawks missed on both of theirs, which came during the game’s first 8 minutes with the game scoreless.
“We had a power play early to get a goal on the road,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “Things could have played out differently had we scored early.”
Ruff said the Stars needed a few big saves by Lehtonen in the early power plays.
“We got ’em,” he said. “We needed three or four big (saves), a couple at the end of the second and obviously the penalty shot was huge for momentum for us.”
Lehtonen added: “It’s like walking on a rope. You need to be aggressive at some times; sometimes you have to be really patient.”
Lehtonen turned away Brandon Saad’s backhander on a penalty shot 7:13 into the third period. The penalty shot was the first Lehtonen faced this season and came after Benn tripped Saad.
“I thought he was going all the way, trying to go high on his backhand,” Lehtonen said, “but he tried to tuck it fast through the 5-hole and I was able to get my pad over there.”
Lehtonen also stopped Marian Hossa on a breakaway with 5 minutes remaining in the second period of a 2-0 game.
“That was like a playoff-type of tempo on the ice,” Hossa said. “In the end of the second, we had lots of good opportunities. It’s just we couldn’t score the goal.”
Goligoski passed to Eaves for the game’s first goal at 9:36 of the first period. He also took the shot that Horcoff tipped in for the third goal at 6:02 of the third.
Spezza took a pass from Eaves and scored the game’s final goal from the slot at 9:32.
Corey Crawford had 25 saves for the Blackhawks.
“Our power play wasn’t very good and the penalty killing wasn’t very good and the team game wasn’t very good,” Quenneville said. “They deserved to win. I thought they were the better team.”
NOTES: Chicago D Kimmo Timonen played in his 1,100th NHL game three days after his 40th birthday. ... The Blackhawks were 3-2 in the season series, but Dallas (2-12) also finished the series with six points. ... Three of Horcoff’s 11 goals this season have been against Chicago. ... Saad scored four goals against the Stars.