DALLAS – Even after 644 games over 14 NHL seasons, shutouts are still a reason to celebrate for Detroit Red Wings goalie Dominik Hasek.
Hasek stopped 22 shots for his 78th career shutout, Brian Rafalski scored a first-period goal, and the NHL-leading Red Wings beat the Dallas Stars 3-0 on Saturday.
“Shutouts are always special,” Hasek said. “I haven’t had too many wins here so this is nice.”
Hasek, 9-10-2 overall against Dallas, also reached 375 victories to break a tie with John Vanbiesbrouck for 11th place on the career list.
Hasek may be about to mark his 43rd birthday later this month, but he’s still a fierce competitor.
“We see him every day in practice,” Red Wings defenceman Niklas Lidstrom said. “We see how competitive he is. He hates to be scored on and that carries over into the game.”
The Red Wings have 31 wins, the most after 42 games in the franchise’s 82-year history, with the help of a defensive effort that has allowed a league-low 89 goals.
Detroit scored on its first shot on goal when Rafalski struck on a one-timer from the slot off Dan Cleary’s setup at 3:44.
Cleary also scored, beating Mike Smith with a sharp-angled shot at 10:08 of the third period. Johan Franzen added an empty-netter with 19.8 seconds left.
“We don’t feel real good about our game,” Stars captain Brenden Morrow said. “We battled hard for a period and a half but we didn’t push it to the next level. They’re a good team so give them some credit.”
The streaking Red Wings are 16-2-2 in their last 20 games and moved to 5-0-1 against Dallas over the past two seasons, including a 4-1 home victory over the Stars on Wednesday night. Over the last four seasons, Detroit is 10-3-1 against Dallas.
“We knew they’d be a desperate team having lost three in a row,” Cleary said. “It was a very tight game. It was one where you had to take advantage of the opportunities given to you.”
The Stars have lost four straight for the first time since the 2003-04 season when they dropped five in a row.
“Losing is frustrating, that goes without saying,” Stars coach Dave Tippett said. “We have to keep pounding away and find a way out of it.”
Smith made 20 saves for the Stars, shut out for the second time in the last four games.
Smith got the call from Tippett instead of regular starter Marty Turco, 1-9-5 lifetime against the Red Wings. Smith is 1-2 for his career against Detroit.
Notes: Detroit has won seven of its last eight on the road. … D Sergei Zubov was back in the Dallas lineup after missing the previous two games because of a hand injury. … The Stars are without three of their top players: RW Jere Lehtinen (abdominal injury), D Philippe Boucher (shoulder) and LW Jussi Jokinen (leg). … The Red Wings had been off since Wednesday night’s win over the Stars.