Monday night didn't get off to a great start for Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen, but it ended well. Lehtonen shook off getting dinged up in warm-ups when he took a shot up high from teammate Patrick Sharp and went on to pitch a 30-save shutout as the Dallas Stars defeated the San Jose Sharks, 1-0, at American Airlines Center.
"He was ready to go today," Sharp said, "maybe because I hit him up high in warm-ups. I was a little worried, but when he made those first couple saves I was breathing a little easier."
"That happens sometimes," Lehtonen said getting hit high in warm-ups. "It woke me up. It woke the beast."
The shutout was the second of the season for Lehtonen and the 36th of his career.
"They always feel nice," Lehtonen said. "It's been a tough year, and after a game like this it feels especially good."
Curtis McKenzie scored the lone goal for the Stars (29-33-10), who bounced back from a tough road trip that saw them lose three of four games.
"We talked about some of those games that were pretty lopsided and embarrassing and not fun to be a part of," said Sharp. "Despite what the standings say we've got to find a way to get better moving forward and tonight was a good test."
"I thought we did a lot of good things for a complete 60 minutes," said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. "Put the puck in the right places, and played well in our own end and played well through the neutral zone."
Aaron Dell stopped 19 of 20 shots for the Sharks, who lost their third straight game and fell to 42-23-7 on the season. The offense has dried up recently for San Jose, which has scored two goals in the past three games and has scored one goal or fewer in four of their past six games.
"Real similar to last game, we just got to find a way to score a goal," said Sharks coach Peter DeBoer. "I think last game we got one, tonight we got none. Chances are there, so we just got to bear down. We've got to get one dirty or ugly around the net, we got to get one on the power play some way, somehow to take a little pressure off the group because it's hard to win when you're only getting one or no goals like we have the last couple of games."
There was no scoring in the first period. Both teams had one power play chance. Both goalies came up with big stops. Lehtonen made a nice pad stop on Logan Couture as the Sharks forward tried to pull around the Dallas goalie and slip the puck into the net. Dell made a sharp save on a Cody Eakin blast from the slot after a nice setup by Sharp.
The Stars took a 1-0 lead at 14:54 of the second when Adam Cracknell circled out to the left point with the puck, but a shot on net and McKenzie deflected it past Dell. Just before Cracknell launched the shot, McKenzie was in front of the net waving his stick.
"I was kind of waving the flag. Not often you get that much time in front, so I was just doing anything to make sure he saw me in front there," McKenzie said. "It was a great job by Cracknell holding the puck. 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."
Lehtonen came up with a big stop on Marcus Sorensen to keep it a 1-0 game later in the period, and then Dell made a spectacular save on Brett Ritchie off the rush to keep the Sharks within one head into the third period.
The Sharks continued to press for the game-tying goal in the third, but couldn't crack Lehtonen who made 11 of his 30 saves over the final 20 minutes to help the Stars secure the win in just their third home game in the month of March.
"It was nice to get back home," Lehtonen said. Everybody was excited to play a home game once in a while, and that was a special night too with the (salute to the military) before the game."
*The Stars won a 1-0 game for the first time since March 13, 2012.
*Twenty-two of Kari Lehtonen's 36 career shutouts have come with the Dallas Stars.
*Curtis McKenzie's goal was his fifth of the season and his first since Feb. 11 vs. Carolina.
*The Sharks outshot the Stars 30-20 and had a 72-50 advantage in shot attempts.
*Patrick Sharp led the Stars with seven shots on goal and 13 shot attempts.
*The Stars were 2-2 on the penalty kill and 0-2 on the power play.
*The Stars won 28 of 54 faceoffs (52 percent). Tyler Seguin won 10 of 13 faceoffs (77 percent).
*John Klingberg led the Stars with 21:38 of ice time. Esa Lindell was next with 21:05.
The Stars head back out on the road for one game, taking on the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center Thursday. That game will be the front end of a back-to-back. The Stars will return home to play San Jose on Friday.
Jamie Benn - Cody Eakin - Ales Hemsky
Remi Elie - Tyler Seguin - Brett Ritchie
Devin Shore - Radek Faksa - Patrick Sharp
Curtis McKenzie - Adam Cracknell - Jiri Hudler
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Greg Pateryn
Patrik Nemeth - Jamie Oleksiak
Scratched: Stephen Johns
Injured: Jason Spezza (back), Antoine Roussel (hand), Mattias Janmark (knee)
This story was not subject to 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.