DALLAS (AP) — After winning the last three games by a 14-1 margin, Dallas coach Lindy Ruff and goalie Kari Lehtonen believe the Stars' latest win was their best this season.
Lehtonen made 24 saves for his second shutout in three games to lead the Stars to a 3-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.
"The last three games have all been excellent in all three zones," Ruff said. "This one against a highly skilled team and taking care of special teams probably knocks the other two down a little bit."
Sergei Gonchar, Jamie Benn and Rich Peverley had Dallas' goals, and Lehtonen also had an assist for the second consecutive game.
"This is up there," Lehtonen said. "That team's really good. We were able to play a lot better than them. We dominated the power play and the penalty kill. Overall, it was a great effort."
The Metropolitan Division-leading Penguins have lost two games in six days by a combined 8-1 to Dallas and Florida, teams fighting to get into playoff contention.
Gonchar had a power-play goal, his second score this season, with just under 5 minutes remaining in the first period against his former team. Dallas has scored with a man advantage in seven consecutive games.
Alex Goligoski, another former Penguins player, had an assist when Benn scored to make it 2-0 at 3:14 of the second. Peverley closed the scoring a little more than 7 minutes later.
"This is desperation for (the Stars) and we saw that in their last two games. We saw it again tonight," Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said. "This was a desperate team, played hard. We have to be able to match that regardless of where our position is or what the standings look like."
Lehtonen faced only 12 shots during the first two periods, before the Penguins doubled their attempts in the third.
"There were a couple of good (saves) in the second period when it was 2-0," Lehtonen said. "After that, we were able to score to make it 3-0. After that, it was quite relaxing. If I let one in, there would still be a two-goal lead."
He stopped Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin point-blank 9½ minutes into the third.
"With the team in front of him for the first 40 minutes, you couldn't find more than one or two good chance," Ruff said. "In the third period when he really needed them, he stood tall."
Dallas' line of Cody Eakin, Antoine Roussel and Ryan Garbutt neutralized the line centered by Penguins scoring leader Sidney Crosby.