DALLAS – This time, the Dallas Stars didn’t just protect a third-period lead. They expanded it.
Steve Ott scored a rare goal, and Mike Smith stopped 22 shots for his fourth career shutout to send the Stars to a 3-0 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night. In their last meeting on Nov. 10, the Stars gave away a 4-0 third-period lead and lost to the Kings in overtime 6-5.
Three days later, owner Tom Hicks initiated a front-office shake-up that included the firing of general manager Doug Armstrong, and since then the Stars are 2-0-1.
Dallas hadn’t forgotten the wasted opportunity against the Kings, and Niklas Hagman and Jere Lehtinen scored in the third period to extend the Stars’ lead to 3-0.
“It didn’t even need to be mentioned,” Ott said. “It was still in the back of all of our minds. We remembered it and wanted to have a big game against them.”
Ott, known more as a checker and instigator than for his goal-scoring, notched his 12th in 214 career games late in the second period to put Dallas in front, and the Stars went on to beat the Kings in Dallas for the 10th straight time.
Hagman added his team-high ninth goal on a breakaway at 13:10 of the third, and Lehtinen scored his sixth on a power play 2:14 later to give Dallas a 3-0 advantage.
“It was good to play the way we did in the third, especially remembering what happened last game against these guys,” Hagman said.
The Stars got off to a slow start before picking up the pace in the second period, following up on Friday night’s 6-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche, Dallas’ most complete performance of the season.
Smith, Dallas’ backup goalie, was making his second straight start for the Stars in place of Marty Turco. Smith’s strong effort in the victory over Colorado earned him another start and he got his first shutout of the season.
Coach Dave Tippett said he wouldn’t decide on his starting goalie for Wednesday night’s game against Anaheim until the pre-game skate that morning.
“We need both guys to be very good to be successful,” Tippett said. “(Smith) has done what he’s supposed to do. That gives you stability.”
Smith came up with a big stop on former Stars forward Ladislav Nagy’s backhand from the slot at 11:38 of the final period to preserve the shutout.
Before these back-to-back starts, Smith had gone five games without playing, making it difficult to stay sharp.
“I’m going to enjoy this while I have it,” Smith said. “I’m just going with the flow right now. The coach wants to keep (who starts) a secret as much as he can.”
Jason LaBarbera had 23 saves for the Kings, 0-3-1 in their last four games.
Behind by only one goal at the start of the third period, the Kings felt good about their chances for a comeback.
“But we can’t rely on that all the time,” Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar said. “It was a one-goal game so we were back in it with one shot. But we can’t give up two more goals like that and expect to win.”
The Stars opened the scoring on Ott’s deflection of Loui Eriksson’s shot at 18:37 that went through the pads of LaBarbera. It was Ott’s second goal of the season.
“I got a one-handed little deflection and put it on the net,” Ott said. “It wasn’t a planned play. I just redirected it.”
Notes: Lehtinen has points in seven straight games, a new career high. … Among the Stars scratches was LW Todd Fedoruk, who was placed on waivers over the weekend. The Stars will find out Tuesday if any team has claimed Fedoruk. If not, the Stars can send him to the minors, but must pay him his salary of US$875,000 even if he spends the rest of the season with Iowa of the AHL. … The Stars will honour C Mike Modano prior to Wednesday night’s home game against Anaheim. Modano broke Phil Housley’s career points record for U.S.-born players on Nov. 7. He has 1,238 points in 1,258 games.