Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen sees an NHL shootout as a game of chance – and likes the odds with Mike Ribeiro and Loui Eriksson on his team.
Ribeiro beat Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith with the final shot of the first shootout round, giving Dallas a 2-1 victory Monday night. Eriksson’s first goal of the season tied the game with 28 seconds remaining in regulation and he scored on Dallas’ first shootout attempt.
The shootout remained 1-0 until the last of the Coyotes’ three attempts, when Shane Doan’s shot deflected off Lehtonen and into the top of the net. Ribeiro followed with a shot under Smith’s right arm.
”It’s like roulette,” Lehtonen said of the shootout. ”You get black or red, you have 50-50 odds and you have to be happy when you get the win. It’s also nice to have guys like Loui and Ribby who are really skilled and usually they score, and that makes it easier for me.”
In the third period, Eriksson had deflected Sheldon Souray’s drive from the left point over Smith’s left shoulder to tie the score.
”Any time you give up a lead in the last minute of a period or a game, it’s tough to rebound from, but our guys battled hard tonight,” Smith said.
Did he see the game-tying shot?
”Not really. There were a few guys in front there, I think Loui got a stick on it, and it found a way in,” Smith said.
Coyotes coach Dave Tippett blamed a blown assignment.
”We missed the coverage down low,” he said. ”It was just a shot that goes at the net and redirects in the net. It was probably a game we deserved a better fate, but if we play like that we’ll get our amount of wins.”
The game was scoreless until 5:55 of the third period, when Radim Vrbata scored 9 seconds into the Coyotes’ sixth power play of the game.
The Stars had stopped their first nine power plays in their two home games, and 15 of 16 this season, before Vrbata knocked in a rebound of Martin Hanzal’s shot.
Dallas had been called for its second bench minor penalty of the game for having too many men on the ice.
The Coyotes won the ensuing faceoff from the left of Lehtonen. Doan moved the puck across the ice, Hanzal took his shot from just in front of Lehtonen and to his right. The rebound slid in front of the net, where Vrbata swatted it in from just outside the crease before the goalie could slide back across to his left.
”It was a broken-stick puck that changed speed,” Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. ”It was an off-speed pitch that comes in at 60 miles per hour instead of 90 and goes off his pad. He had no chance.”
Phoenix was 1 for 7 on its power plays, while killing all seven of the Stars’ opportunities.
”We did a real good job on our PK,” Gulutzan said. ”Kari was real good. Our power play was atrocious. We have to revisit it and also revisit our work ethic on the power play.”
There were five power plays in the first period. The Coyotes had three of the extra-man opportunities and outshot Dallas 11-7.
The Stars survived another power play after captain Brenden Morrow drew a cross-checking minor along with 5 minutes for fighting with Coyotes defenseman Rostislav Klesla at 9:47.
Eriksson’s goal made up for missing Dallas’ best scoring opportunity of the game’s first 59 minutes, on Phoenix’s fifth power play. Less than 5 minutes into the third period, the Stars gained control of the puck, and Eriksson walked in alone on Smith. The goalie stopped the bid for a short-handed goal 3 seconds before the penalty expired.
Notes: Smith came within a minute of his 12th NHL shutout. He is 2-0-2 against the Stars, whom he played from 2006-08. … Gulutzan said he wasn’t concerned about Phoenix’s 41-25 advantage in shots on goal. ”The way we play, we’ll give up some shots. It’s OK if they’re from the outside.”