VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) – Kari Lehtonen was tested immediately by the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night.READ MORE: Driver Fatally Shoots Houston-Area Deputy Before Fleeing
The Dallas goalie stoned Radim Vrbata just more than 30 seconds into the first period and stared down a number of other great chances in the opening 20 minutes of the Stars’ 2-0 victory.
“That’s always huge when you are able to make a great first save,” Lehtonen said. “That gave me lots of confidence and that carried later on in the game.”
Lehtonen finished with 27 saves for his second shutout this season and the 29th of his career as the Stars extended Vancouver’s losing streak to five games.
Colton Sceviour and Antoine Roussel, into an empty net, scored for the Stars.
Dallas has been dreadful defensively this season, averaging an NHL-worst 3.52 goals against per game coming into Wednesday. But the Stars played a solid final 40 minutes against Vancouver.
“A lot of the time you point to your goaltender whether you win it or you lose it,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “When you lose you often point at him and when you win it’s the guy that’s going to get the credit. He made a couple big saves when we came out a little bit flat and I thought that really picked the team up.”
Eddie Lack stopped 27 shots for Vancouver. Lack started for the first time since Dec. 7 in place of No. 1 goalie Ryan Miller, who gave up five goals on 23 shots in a 5-1 loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday.
Lehtonen has four wins this month but came in with a 3.10 goals-against average on the season.
“There has been some rough games and some games I have not done a great job, so it kind of goes hand in hand,” Lehtonen said. “Some nights players make it really easy for me and some nights I have to make some great saves, but that’s just part of the job.”
Sceviour opened the scoring at 2:53 of the second period when his backhand shot deflected off the back of Lack’s glove and into the net.
“It’s a weak goal, what else can I say?” Lack said. “I was kind of in between — should I get it with my stick or with my glove?”
Sceviour said: “I was just trying to throw it out to the front to maybe get a rebound. I was fortunate enough to get a bounce and it went in.”READ MORE: Mesquite Police Investigating Murder Of Teen Initially Believed To Be Motor Accident
Jannik Hansen had a great chance for Vancouver seconds earlier, stripping Jyrki Jokipakka at the Dallas blue line before Lehtonen stopped him with a glove save.
Dallas increased its pressure throughout the second, forcing Lack to make 11 saves, while Vancouver could only muster four shots — including a clear breakaway by Alexandre Burrows that Lehtonen denied.
“He gave us a fighting chance in the first period to win a hockey game, and the second period we answered the bell by going after them pretty good,” Ruff said. “We’ve been working hard playing defense in the offensive zone, controlling the puck and zone time. I thought we did a lot better job of that. We had some shifts that we totally finished in the offensive zone.”
The Canucks came out stronger in the third period, with Chris Tanev aiming a one-timer at Lehtonen just more than six minutes in.
Dallas’ John Klingberg took a tripping penalty 8:26 into the third. The Canucks had a number of chances to score with the man advantage, but couldn’t find a way to beat Lehtonen.
“I thought our third period was good, created stuff on the last power play, but you know, our second period wasn’t a good period for us and it probably cost us the game,” Vancouver coach Willie Desjardins said.
Lack had to make a couple of big saves to keep his team in it, including a breakaway shot from Curtis McKenzie that Lack stopped with his pads.
Vancouver pulled its goalie with 1:35 left as it piled on the pressure, but Roussel scored into the empty net with 26 seconds to go.
The Canucks haven’t scored a power-play goal since a victory over the Washington Capitals on Dec. 2.
“We’ve got to at least get the momentum in our power play,” Henrik Sedin said. “That didn’t happen in the second. I think that’s what turned the momentum around for them.”
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