Stars edge Jets for 2-1 victory
DALLAS (AP) The Dallas Stars used a strong power play to stay in the Western Conference playoff chase on Monday night.
Ray Whitney and Tyler Seguin scored with a man advantage and Dallas held off the Winnipeg Jets 2-1.
”Power plays for us won it, and the power play for them got them back into it,” Whitney said.
The victory allowed Dallas to move within a point of the Phoenix Coyotes for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot. The Stars have missed the playoffs in each of the past five seasons.
Kari Lehtonen, whose 32 saves for Dallas included 14 in the third period, didn’t give up a goal until the Jets’ Bryan Little scored with 2:44 remaining.
Winnipeg had a 4-on-3 power play, and added a fifth skater by pulling goalie Al Montoya.
”Special teams won the game, and the goalie made saves when he needed to,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said.
”Kari was excellent. His saves were great, and his puck handling really helped us. He made some good passes.”
Stars captain Jamie Benn assisted on both goals.
The Jets continued to fade in the postseason race.
”It is (tough to make a playoff push like this),” Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said. ”The final results haven’t been good enough for our team. We’re just getting closer to it. We’re not there.”
The Jets are 2-6-3 in their past 11 games. One of the victories was a 7-2 rout of visiting Dallas eight days earlier.
Ruff said he did not use that game as motivation.
”I didn’t even talk about last week. We had a tough night in goal, and when you start chasing the game, it can get ugly.”
Dallas’ defense has allowed only two goals in the past two games after giving up 16 in the previous three, all losses.
Ruff said: ”I think we’ve cleaned up the individual mistakes.”
The Stars have 79 points. Phoenix received a point for an overtime loss against the Rangers to reach 80.
Whitney said that the team did some scoreboard watching.
”We all look up to see the out-of-town scores. Everybody these last three weeks will be doing that.”
He scored 5:32 into the game from the left faceoff circle on a slap shot that went off Montoya and into the upper left corner.
Late in the period, Dallas’ Valeri Nichushkin beat two defenders for a breakaway on the power play. Montoya, who finished with 25 saves, stopped the rookie’s backhand shot.
Winnipeg’s best chances came midway through the first, but Lehtonen stopped Blake Wheeler in close and saved Jim Slater’s wraparound attempt.
The Stars finished the period with a 12-11 edge in shots, and a 1-0 lead.
Just 13 seconds into Dallas’ third power play, Tyler Seguin pulled the puck out of a pile in front and lifted a shot over Montoya at 16:09 of the second.
Seguin’s 32nd goal was his sixth in five games against Winnipeg this season. His 10 points against the Jets are his highest total against any opponent.
Winnipeg nearly scored on its first power play of the game. With two minutes remaining in the second, Lehtonen reached back to smother the puck after a shot from the blue line bounced off the crossbar.
Defense dominated in a period when the Stars outshot the Jets 9-7.
Winnipeg spent much of the third period in the Dallas end, peppering Lehtonen with 15 shots, but fell a goal short.
”I thought we battled hard to try and get back in the game for the most part, especially the third,” Little said. ”We never really gave up and we made a push kind of like we did last game and just like last game, we came one short again.”
Whitney said: ”I thought in the third we kind of sat back a little bit and played prevent D. When the situation tightens these last 11 games, you’re going to see more of that.”
NOTES: Jets captain Andrew Ladd missed the game because his wife, Brandi, gave birth to a baby girl Sunday. He is expected to rejoin the team Thursday at San Jose for the second game of a five-game trip. Evander Kane joined Little and Michael Frolik on the first line. … Goalie Ondrej Pavelec missed his fifth consecutive game because of an upper body injury. Wheeler left the ice in the third period after skating into an open door by the Dallas bench. He later rejoined his teammates on Winnipeg’s bench. . Sergei Gonchar’s first-period assist was his eighth in the past six games against the Jets. … Benn has 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in his past 11 games. … The Stars’ last game with more than one power-play goal was March 6. … Ruff said Erik Cole, who has missed the past two games because of an upper-body injury, would not accompany the team to Chicago for Tuesday’s game against the Blackhawks.