Shooting Stars Set Fire to Raleigh

The Dallas Stars came to Raleigh and beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1 in a blaze of 3rd period offense that burned up any hope of a ‘Canes win. Establishing themselves as possibly the best team in the Western Conference thus far, the Stars played with a winner’s confidence that was evident at the beginning of the game and never waned.

Eddie Lack and Kari Lehtonen

Carolina had Eddie Lack in-goal and he played extremely well. In what was a common occurrence last season for Anton Khudobin, Lack’s teammates did nothing to bolster his performance. The Hurricanes’ goalies, Cam Ward and Lack can only do so much when their team is not scoring goals. Thus it was for Lack against the Stars, a really good outing that winds up on his record as a loss.

Lack’s counterpart across the ice was Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen, who weathered and turned away any offensive push the Hurricanes brought his way. Lehtonen gives the Stars coaching staff no concerns about being in-goal. He has notched a 5-1 record so far this season, with a save percentage of .917 and a goals against average of 2.63. Lehtonen is no slouch and Dallas is in a great position when it comes to goalies.

I was hoping to see Antti Niemi play. I’ve always felt that he is a great goalie that is much under appreciated. Niemi is 6-2 this season with a save percentage of .908 and a goals against average of 2.77. Between the two Dallas has blasted out of the starting gate to an 11-3 record with 22 points already. Contrast that with the ‘Canes who are 5-8 and have 10 points.

Lehtonen came up big several times to keep Dallas in the game when it was tied 1-1, but also to keep Carolina at bay until the end. Lack did his best for what is was worth, but when his team is incapable of scoring, it is an exercise in futility. Add to that defensive miscues like this from Ron Hainsey and Patrick Sharp had no problem eating Lack up to give Dallas the lead.

Lack wound up with 25 saves on 29 shots and Lehtonen was close to perfect saving 30 of 31.

Next up

The Carolina Hurricanes have to find some offense. The name players are not producing consistently, although Jordan Staal did get his second goal of the season against the Stars. But that sentence stands as a glaring commentary on what is wrong with the ‘Canes this season: “His second goal of the season.”

That and only four goals thus far for brother Eric Staal and only two goals for Jeff Skinner says it all. The Hurricanes must find a way to score or it is going to be another long, disappointing season culminating with watching the playoffs from afar.

The Stars meanwhile are at the Detroit Red Wings Sunday. They just need to keep doing what they are doing and they will leave a lot of arenas smoking in the aftermath of their hot play.

The Hurricanes host the Ottawa Senators Saturday night. Coach Bill Peters said his team must play “desperate.” No one in Raleigh would disagree.