Pacific: Stars aligning in battle for first

By Andrew Knoll

Photo: Dallas Stars captain Brenden Morrow celebrates a goal Saturday night in his return to the Stars’ lineup (courtesy of

Ray Carlin/Icon SMI)

With their 2-0 shutout of the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday, the Dallas Stars extended their win streak to five games and their point streak to ten games.

In those ten games, they have allowed just one power-play goal while goaltender Kari Lehtonen has gone 7-0-1 with two shutouts and two one-goal games.

Our penalty kill has been great for a few weeks. Your goaltender is always your best penalty killer and he’s been big for us,” said Stars’ captain Brenden Morrow.

The puck’s probably looking like a beach ball for him. He earned his shutout tonight because that’s a pretty slick team to give many power-play opportunities,” Morrow added.

The Stars have also played through both short-term and prolonged injuries to role players and significant stars alike. Their 4-3 shootout win against San Jose Thursday saw them finish the game with just four defensemen and top defensive forward, Steve Ott.

The guys are playing for each other and showing a lot of resiliency and character,” head coach Glen Gulutzan said after the win over the Sharks.

Facing Anaheim, Morrow returned after 18 games on the shelf with neck, back and shoulder issues. He scored the game-winning goal, which moved him into a tie for eighth place on the all-time Stars scoring list with two-way sensation Jere Lehtinen.

The Stars now sit atop the Pacific Division with a three-point lead, a huge cushion by the Pacific’s standards this season.

Guys are smiling here and working hard. It’s just a great time of year to be in it,” Lehtonen said.

Dallas has gotten outstanding play from their core forwards—Jamie Benn, Loui Eriksson, Mike Ribeiro and Michael Ryder—but their defense has dug deep and their secondary players have also chipped in during the streak.

Against San Jose, it was the young Czech Tomas Vincour scoring the shootout winner after scoring a game-winning goal against Vancouver earlier in the week.

These guys genuinely like each other and that makes them a dangerous group,” Gulutzan said.

Pacific Division Notes

In a matchup of stoppable force versus movable object, the Phoenix Coyotes blanked the struggling Sharks 3-0 Saturday to bolster Phoenix’s playoff hopes as they stand 7th in the West … San Jose sits in 11th place as they risk missing the playoffs for the first time since 2003 … The Los Angeles Kings salvaged their three-game Midwestern road trip with a 3-2 win over Chicago Sunday after losing a tight, 4-3 game to Detroit Friday and falling in Columbus Thursday … The Kings play five of their next six at home and all six in Southern California … Time is running out for the Anaheim Ducks, who have lost six of their last ten and continue to face a brutal schedule … Anaheim lost Corey Perry after he was blasted into the boards by the Stars’ Stephane Robidas; shoulder X-rays were negative but he did not return to the game … Dallas’s Michael Ryder scored his 30th goal Saturday, tying a career high he set twice with Montreal.