The Anaheim Ducks opened the first period peppering Kari Lehtonen with shots, forcing the netminder to make solid saves early in the game. The Stars had trouble finding a groove, something that seems to happen a lot, but ultimately made up for it towards the end of the frame. Mike Ribeiro, in his first game back from injury, showed poise and patience and dropped a pass to Alex Goligoski. He sent a rocket towards Jonas Hiller that deflected off of Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler right into the net. A good way to celebrate that shiny new contract extension. The Stars were out shot 10-3 in the period, but led 1-0 when the buzzer sounded. The middle frame was relatively quiet when it came to points, but it did see two fighting majors, two offsetting minors, and two Anaheim power plays. Lehtonen and the Stars stopped all 9 shots that made their way to the Dallas net to keep the 1-0 lead intact into the third period. The Stars had to withstand a storm in the third period, and Lehtonen rose to the occasion. The Stars faced an onslaught in the final minutes but the Stars stood tall, allowing nothing through. The Stars held on and Kari Lehtonen earned the shut out with a 1-0 victory.
What It Means:
The Stars needed a win tonight. Needed. Instead of entering the All-Star break full of doubts, the team can now look at a solid win and focus on the positives to improve their game. Kari Lehtonen was the undisputed champion of tonight’s game, earning his first shut out of the season. A feat not easily accomplished against a team as red-hot as the Ducks. The Ducks out shot and at times out played the Stars, but they had no answer for the Big Fin. Mike Ribeiro made a beautiful play that led to the Goligoski goal, showing why this team struggles offensively without him. His poise and patience are unmatched on the Dallas Stars. The Stars got an important two points tonight, and now get to look ahead past the All-Star break to a breakneck final half of the season. The playoffs are there for the taking, it’s up to the Stars to rise to the occasion. Other game notes:
- Tonight was the first NHL game of Matt Fraser’s career. He had one shot in just 3:57 of ice time.
- Mike Ribeiro made his much awaited return tonight after being out with an MCL injury since January 7th. He created the first goal, getting an assist on Goligoski’s goal.
- The Stars penalty kill was 2/2 and the team had no power play chances.
After limping to the finish line, the All-Star break has finally arrived. The Stars next game will not be until February 1st, when they return to the ice against the Anaheim Ducks once again. This All-Star break will be a welcome relief for the Stars, and hopefully they will come back at full health, with the sorely missed Jamie Benn making his return to the ice.
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