Kari Lehtonen made 30 saves for his 36th career shutout Monday night. And still, one of the toughest shots he faced came before the game.
“He was ready to go today, just because I hit him up high in warmups,” Dallas Stars teammate Patrick Sharp said. “I was a little worried. When he made those first couple saves, I was breathing a little bit easier.”
Lehtonen thought Sharp’s shot helped him get in the right frame of mind before his 1-0 win over the San Jose Sharks.
“It woke me up. Woke the beast,” the goalie said.
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Dallas scored the only goal Lehtonen needed at 14:54 of the second period. Curtis McKenzie got his fifth on a tip-in from the slot that beat Sharks goalie Aaron Dell.
Adam Cracknell took the shot from the left point.
It’s been a tough year, so after a game like this it feels especially good. Just the way we played the whole 60 minutes. It was really cool.
Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen
“Great job by (Cracknell), just holding on the puck,” McKenzie said. “He must have had it for a good 10 seconds before he shot it at the net. I just found myself open in front, so I was able to get a tip-in there.”
Pacific Division leader San Jose (42-23-7) lost a third straight game for only the second time this season. The Sharks have scored just two goals in those three games.
“Chances are there,” coach Peter DeBoer said, “so we’ve just got to bear down and we’ve got to get one dirty or ugly around the net. We’ve got to get one on the power play some way. It’s not all bad by any means. There’s a lot of good that’s going on, but right now we’re cold. We’re paying a price for that.”
The Sharks outshot the Stars 30-20, including 12-6 in the third period.
Stars captain Jamie Benn returned after a one-game absence because of a scratched eyed. He had three shots on goal in a team-leading 28 shifts.
Dallas (29-33-10) is barely alive in the playoff race with 10 games remaining.
“It’s been a tough year,” Lehtonen said, “so after a game like this it feels especially good. Just the way we played the whole 60 minutes. It was really cool. Guys were blocking shots and getting all the rebounds.”
Dallas’ other shutout this season was Lehtonen’s 3-0 win Dec. 3 at Colorado.
“He found a few pucks through traffic that were big saves for us,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “He made big saves when we needed it.”
Neither team scored during the first period as they totaled 14 shots on goal, eight by the Sharks.
San Jose’s Logan Couture, who has 25 goals, almost got another in the first, but Lehtonen stopped the shot with his foot.
“It was just a difficult situation when Couture has some time and I’m already down, so I have to do something tricky,” Lehtonen said. “I thought he was going to shoot right away, and he was trying to go around me. That’s where the long legs came to help me.”
The Stars had another good chance in the second after McKenzie’s goal, but Dell stopped a 3-on-1 rush. San Jose again outshot Dallas, 10-8, for an 18-14 advantage after two periods.
San Jose couldn’t score even after pulling Dell with just under two minutes remaining. Dallas missed two tries at the empty net.
“It’s a 1-0 game,” Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said. “Feeling is, just stick with it. We can’t hang our head. Just got to find a way to be a little bit better.”
▪ Sharks C Chris Tierney was out for the first time this season, sidelined by the flu.
Dallas C Jason Spezza did not play because of back spasms.
▪ Stars D Dan Hamhuis went down on the ice at the end of the second period. He was hit in the face by Logan Couture’s stick when the Sharks center followed through on a shot from the right corner. Hamhuis returned after taking stitches during the intermission.
▪ The Stars were coming off a 1-3 road trip – they were outscored 17-5.
▪ San Jose has been shut out five times this season.
Sharks: Play the second of a four-game trip Wednesday at Minnesota before returning to Dallas to play on Friday.
Stars: Travel to Chicago to play on Thursday.
First Period—None. Penalties—Sharp, DAL, (cross checking), 3:52; Burns, SJ, (hooking), 18:19.
Second Period—1, Dallas, Mckenzie 5 (Cracknell, Hudler), 14:54. Penalties—None.
Third Period—None. Penalties—Elie, DAL, (roughing), 2:11; Vlasic, SJ, (slashing), 7:25.
Shots on Goal—San Jose 8-11-11—30. Dallas 6-8-6—20. Power plays—San Jose 0 of 2; Dallas 0 of 2. Goalies—San Jose, Dell 10-5-1 (20 shots-19 saves). Dallas, Lehtonen 18-22-6 (30-30). A—17,687 (18,532). T—2:26.