Kari Lehtonen, 4th Line Lead Dallas Stars to Victory
They earned this win. They earned it in every possible way.
The Dallas Stars and Washington Capitals faced off Tuesday night with both teams one point out of a playoff spot in their respective conferences. The difference was that the Stars seemed like they wanted it more, and Dallas ended up with a 5-0 win because of that.
The Stars played one of their most complete and patient games of the season. All four lines stuck to the game plan. They took care of the puck, supported each other deep in the offensive and defensive zones, pounced on turnovers and attacked as a unit. They showed energy, determination and attention to detail all game long and throughout their entire lineup, including goalie Kari Lehtonen.
Lehtonen turned aside 35 shots and earned his fourth shutout of the season, but even his performance was not the story. The story of the night was the Stars’ fourth line. Dallas’ fourth line of Dustin Jeffrey, Ray Whitney and Alex Chiasson combined for three goals and four assists in the win.
Jeffrey scored his first two goals of the season and the first two of his time with the Stars. His first goal put the Stars up 3-0 nearly midway through the second period and caused Braden Holtby to relieve Jaroslav Halak of the net. Whitney’s goal and assist were highlight-reel material as he used his patience to draw the goaltender out of position on both plays, and Chiasson tallied three assists in one of his most complete outings of the season. The fourth line ended with six shots, one hit and two blocked shots, and they each ended the night with a +3 rating.
Ryan Garbutt continued his hot streak with his 16th goal of the season on a short-handed breakaway with 5:10 left in regulation. Tyler Seguin opened the scoring when he tipped in Jamie Benn’s shot 4:52 into the game.
The Stars failed to score on four power play opportunities, but two of them were shortened by overlapping penalties. Their penalty killing was stellar as they successfully turned the Capitals away on all five of their opportunities with aggressive, suffocating defense.
The Capitals simply did not seem as interested in the game as the Stars. The Stars won more races to the puck, blocked 20 shots, took advantage of turnovers and seemed to have the puck on their sticks for most of the game.
The Stars are hungry to end their five-year playoff drought, and if the dominating win over the Capitals is any indication, they have a good chance at finally breaking the streak this season.