The Dallas Stars desperately needed a win, but their challenge was very difficult as they traveled to the Honda Center to take on the Anaheim Ducks, one of the top teams in a stacked Western Conference.
The road was steeper considering that Kari Lehtonen wasn’t going to start, so Dan Ellis assumed the duties between the posts. And I’m sure nobody saw his performance coming as the veteran netminder stopped all 26 shots that went his way and as a result, the Stars blanked the Ducks and won 2-0 on the road.
The fact that the Stars got off to an early lead certainly helped their cause – Trevor Daley scored in the second period and Jamie Benn sealed the win with an EN goal – as they ended a five-game winless streak on the road, but the win wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Ellis, who was simply magnificent in his first start since Jan. 9.
“I just tried to relax,” the goaltender told media after the game. “I hadn’t played in about three weeks. When you are in a situation like that you lose the feel for the game, so you’re trying to battle and find ways to relax. I tried to do that early on, and our guys played fantastic.”
Ellis’ first shutout of the season – and 14th of his career – was the perfect spark for the Stars against one of the best teams in the NHL this year. Dallas remains out of the playoff picture and they need to continue progressing to end the five-year drought without a postseason appearance, and they certainly need a strong effort from all the players.
Ellis stepped it up right when the team needed it and if the rest of the team can do it, then that’s a good sign for things to come.