Dan Ellis made the most of his first start in more than three weeks, stopping 26 shots for his first shutout of the season as the Dallas Stars defeated the Anaheim Ducks, 2-0, at Honda Center Saturday night.
“I just tried to relax,” Ellis said. “I hadn’t played in about three weeks. When you are in a situation like that you lose the feel for the game, so you’re trying to battle and find ways to relax. I tried to do that early on, and our guys played fantastic.”
Ellis, making his first start since January 9 and just his third in the last 22 games, posted the 14th shutout of his NHL career and his first as a Dallas Star.
“He did a nice job against them (Ducks) last time we played them,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “Like I said this morning, [Kari Lehtonen] is feeling tired and he’s played a lot of hockey. It was time to get him in. By the looks of things, we may have to play him more. He gave us a rock solid game. We only had a couple big breakdowns and he was there for us.”
It was the first time Anaheim has been shut out this season.
“We were just looking for two points,” said Ruff. “It could have been 8-7 and I’d be telling you the same story, it’s all about the two points.”
The win snapped a five-game road winless streak for the Stars and pulled them to within four points of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Trevor Daley’s goal early in the second period held up as the game-winner. Jamie Benn sealed the victory with a late empty-net goal.
The Ducks, who started the season with a 20-0-2 mark at home, have now lost three of their last five games at Honda Center.
“They skated better. They really blocked out well in their own zone. They didn’t give us any second shots,” said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. “They were determined for 60 minutes and we couldn’t get in on the forecheck. They moved the puck really quick.
“We didn’t have any sustained pressure. Against a team like Dallas, you have to win the board battles. If you don’t win them, their speed is so good, it’s going to be a real tough game for you.”
After a scoreless first period, the Stars got the only goal they would need on the night. Cody Eakin, who missed most of the first period after getting cut above the eye by a puck, drove the net, put a shot on goal and Daley scored off the rebound to put the Stars up 1-0.
“Eaks drove the net pretty well, I followed up behind and got a nice one,” said Daley.
The Stars had a couple of great chances to extend the lead later in the period. Tyler Seguin broke in on net with the Stars on the power play, but his backhand shot missed the net. Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller stopped an Antoine Roussel redirection at the 10:17 mark of the second.
Ellis came up big with just over five minutes left in the second, stopping Corey Perry as he got off a good chance as he came out of the penalty box after the Stars missed on their third power play of the night. Moments later, Brenden Dillon blocked a Ryan Getzlaf bid from the slot. Hiller had a big save on Rich Peverley’s close range bid with just under four minutes left in the second. Stars captain Jamie Benn had a great chance with 16 seconds left in the period, but his shot hit the post.
The Ducks stepped up the pressure in the third period, outshooting the Stars 12-6, but Ellis was solid in goal. Perry had a great chance late, but Ellis got a piece of it with his pad and the puck hit the side of the net.
“The puck bounced right to him, he had that open net and I just tried to throw my leg out there as quickly as I could. It just clipped the top of my pad and went over,” said Ellis.
Benn scored into an empty net with 29 seconds left to make it a 2-0 game and seal the victory for the Stars in game one of their three-game road trip.
“We’ve been playing a lot better hockey lately. More so just sticking to the way that gives us success,” said Ellis. “I think if we stick to that brand of hockey, we give ourselves a chance to win every night.”
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.