DALLAS — Kari Lehtonen had 37 saves, with some tremendous stops, for his first career post-season victory, and the Dallas Stars beat Anaheim 3-0 Monday night in their first home playoff game in six years.
Dallas captain Jamie Benn skated out of the penalty box to score late in the first period, and 19-year-old rookie Valeri Nichushkin added a goal for the Stars in Game 3 of the best-of-seven series. The top-seeded Ducks won each of the first two games at home, both one-goal results.
Game 4 is Wednesday night.
Lehtonen, who held up through five Anaheim power plays, had a kick save near the end of one of those in the final minute of the first period. That came right before Benn came out of the penalty box and skated toward the other end for the winning goal.
Trevor Daley, the only Stars player left from their last playoff team in 2008, passed to Shawn Horcoff, who shot. The ricochet was knocked into the net by Benn with 35 seconds left in the first period.
It had been 2,162 days since the Stars last hosted a playoff game, May 19, 2008, a 4-1 loss to Detroit in the clinching Game 6 of the Western Conference finals. This one ended with “Kari! Kari” chants.
Lehtonen had been 0-4 in the playoffs, including two losses with Atlanta in 2007, with a 4.58 goals-against average and .858 save percentage.
Benn had been penalized for hooking right after Daley was having words with Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf. The back-and-forth with Daley and Getzlaf carried into the second period, and they had to be separated in the opening minute — just before an eerie replay for Ducks defenceman Stephane Robidas when he broke his right leg again.
Robidas had to be helped off the ice after his leg bent awkwardly when a sliding Ryan Garbutt of Dallas undercut him. The team said the latest fracture was just above the one he sustained Nov. 29 while with Dallas. He didn’t play again until being traded to Anaheim last month.
Fans cheered for the 37-year-old Robidas, chanting “Robi, Robi!” as he left the ice before being transported to a hospital.
Nichushkin, 19, took a pass from Tyler Seguin late in the second period and scored on a one-timer from the top of the right circle through the legs of Frederik Andersen, the rookie goalie who stopped 66 of 71 shots in Anaheim.
Garbutt added a goal in the third period.
It was a frustrating night all around for the Ducks, and their dynamic scoring duo of Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Late in the second period, Getzlaf and Perry were exchanging punches with different Dallas players during the same stoppage in play.
Antoine Roussel delivered a roundhouse left to Getzlaf, who had already thrown a punch and was wearing a half-visor to protect the stitches from taking a puck to the face in Game 1. Meanwhile, Stars defenceman Alex Goligoski and Perry were going at it.