The Dallas Stars got the goals against number down Thursday night in New Jersey, but they didn’t score a goal for the first time this season and fell 1-0 to the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center. It was the fourth straight loss for the Stars.
The Stars, who had allowed 18 goals in their three previous games, were better in that regard Thursday, but they still gave the Devils several quality looks in the game. Goaltender Kari Lehtonen kept it close.
“[We were better defensively] to some respect, yeah. Not good enough though,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “They had the better chances, they blocked more shots, they were in more lanes. They did a good job defending once we were in there. We made some mistakes that Kari had to cover up.”
Lehtonen was superb for the Stars, stopping 33 of 34 shots and turning away several quality New Jersey scoring chances.
“1-0 games are what goalies want, but I wish we had been the one with the one goal at the end,” said Lehtonen. “It was a tight game and their goalie played great, and that’s how it goes.”
Cory Schneider stopped 26 shots for the shutout and got a lot of help from the players in front of him. The Devils forwards and defensemen blocked 18 shots, and gave the Stars few quality chances on Schneider.
“I said this morning that playing them is like crawling through a barbed-wire fence with a wool jacket on,” said Ruff. “They’ve got a lot of big bodies, they defend well and you’ve got to give them credit for it.”
Former Star Michael Ryder scored the only goal for the Devils, who snapped a three-game losing streak.
“I thought it was a good team effort,” said Devils coach Peter DeBoer. “We created a lot of chances, didn’t finish many, but obviously found a way to get a shutout. I like how we played.”
The Devils outshot the Stars 7-0 over the first half of the first period, and the Stars had an 8-3 advantage the rest of the way. But neither team could get on the scoreboard and it was scoreless heading into the first intermission.
The Devils had five of the first six shots in the second period, and scored on their sixth one to take a 1-0 lead. After some sustained pressure in the Dallas zone, Travis Zajac set up Ryder, who scored from the slot at the 8:17 mark.
"He's got a knack for getting in the right place at the right time in the right moment in the game," DeBoer said of Ryder.
The Stars had a great chance to draw even late in the second when they went on a four minute power play after Stephen Gionta took a double minor for high sticking Jamie Benn. But the Stars weren’t able to crack the highly ranked Devils penalty kill, which blocked four shots and got three sharp saves from Schneider.
Lehtonen kept the Stars in the game in the third period, stopping Ryan Carter from the slot 2:39 into the period, Zajac from point blank range with 8:58 remaining, an Adam Henrique redirection with 2:13 left and then Zajac again with 1:48 left to keep the Stars within one goal.
The Stars couldn’t get Lehtonen out of the net until there were 30 seconds left in the third, and couldn’t get the equalizer.
“I thought in the third we showed some desperation, but we need to find a way to do that for a full 60,” said Stars center Tyler Seguin. “I think right now we are wanting to win, but we are not hating to lose. I think that is a big thing we need to fix.”
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.