Another game, another loss for the Penguins. They dropped their fourth straight game in Dallas Thursday night by a score of 2-1.
Stars captain Jamie Benn had a goal and an assist, Kari Lehtonen stopped 31 of 32 shots to lead Dallas to a win over dropping Pittsburgh, who is now tied with the Washington Capitals for third in the Metropolitan Division.
Rookie Brett Ritchie scored the first goal of the game with a primary assist from Benn early in the second period to put the Stars on top. Less than two minutes later, the captain slotted his own rebound past Pens goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who was starting after getting the night off in their last game, a loss to the New Jersey Devils.
The deficit was slit in half by defenseman Kris Letang later in the second. It was a power-play goal, ending Pittsburgh’s 1-22 skid with the man-advantage. Despite a ferocious attempt by the Penguins to tie the game, the Stars, led by Lehtonen, would pull out the victory.
Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 15-4 in the third period, but no more of the shots would hit the twine behind Dallas’ red-hot goaltender, who was the second star of the game.
"I thought he was good," Ruff said of Lehtonen. "He made the key saves when we needed [them], and that's what we needed tonight.”
The Penguins are sputtering when they can’t be. If they continue to lose and drop in their tight division, they could fall back to a wild-card spot, meaning a significantly tougher playoff opponent. Letang cited a reason for the losses:
"We have two big scorers [Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist] out of the lineup. That doesn't help. We have to get some secondary scoring from other lines," Letang said. "It can't be the same guys all the time. I think it's all a question of momentum. We didn't build momentum right at the start and we kind of put ourselves behind the eight ball.”
The Penguins conclude a three game road-trip on Saturday against the Arizona Coyotes. The Stars host the Chicago Blackhawks on the same day.
"Nobody likes to lose," Crosby, who failed to register a shot, said. "I think we have to realize that we need to give ourselves better chances to win games. Right now, regardless of goals or whatever, we just got to give ourselves a chance with the way we work and execute and see what happens from there."