The Minnesota Wild had several open net opportunities, but were unable to get a puck into the net in a 1-0 loss to the Dallas Stars Tuesday at the Xcel Energy Center.

The Wild had a short give-and-go, two-on-one play that could not be completed on the backdoor, three chances in close by Kyle Brodziak and a one-timer at the side of the goal from Dany Heatley.

All went for naught as Kari Lehtonen stopped 25 shots, including a glove stop of a shot from Brodziak in the slot with just under four seconds remaining in the game.

“They got a pretty good chance there,” Lehtonen said of his final save of the night. “That’s the best feeling when you’re able to make a big save at the big time of the game and help the team. That’s what goaltending is all about.”

The biggest missed opportunity may have been a stung goaltender. Lehtonen took a shot off the collar bone early in warm-ups and was moving the glove arm in obvious discomfort.

“I got a shot off the collar bone and the glove hand went numb,” Lehtonen said. “It got better and after the first period I didn’t have any problems. It’s one of those things you don’t want to happen, but it worked out in the end.”

The moral victories may be meaningless with 12 games remaining on the season, but the Wild had a chance to, and probably should have, defeat the NHL’s hottest team.

The Stars (39-26-5) entered the game 9-0-1 in its last 10 games and 11-1-2 since Feb. 16, when it snapped a three game losing streak.

“At the end of the day, it’s a good step for our team,” Brodziak said. “Look at the goal they got, a pretty fortunate bounce. And look at some of the bounces we didn’t get. We were creating good stuff today. We talked about playing our game; being strong defensively. I don’t think we really gave them too much. When we play like that we give ourselves a chance to win every game. Tonight we had a chance to win.”

The Wild (29-31-10) surrendered the only goal of the game early in the third period when Jamie Benn capitalized on an odd-man rush.

The Stars appeared to catch a break when a missed holding penalty kept Devin Setoguchi from getting to a loose puck at the Stars’ blue line.

“When you’re on the other side of it, you always think you didn’t get the call,” Setoguchi said. “But, I need to be stronger on the puck. From my end it was a little bit of a hold. The refs do the best job they can to call a good game. It’s in the spur of the moment. I just need to be stronger on the puck there.”

Matt Hackett was on top of his game with a pair of goal saving stops, including a beautiful glove stop in the second period. Despite having a 2.06 goals against average and .934 save percentage, the rookie’s record fell to 3-4.

Three Stars

No. 3 – Jamie Benn. The Stars forward scored the game-winning goal.

No. 2 – Matt Hackett. The Wild goaltender stopped 24 shots.

No. 1 – Kari Lehtonen. The Stars goaltender stopped 25 shots for the shutout.


Dallas           0 0 1 – 1
Minnesota     0 0 0 – 0

       First Period – None. Penalties – Fiddler, Dal (cross checking), 14:44.

       Second Period – None. Penalties – Wandell, Dal (charging), 6:05; Prosser, Min (boarding), 9:24; Fiddler, Dal (unsportsmanlike conduct),  15:15; Veilleux, Min (unsportsmanlike conduct), 15:15; Morrow, tripping), 16:57; Palmieri, Min (high sticking), 18:08; Morrow, Dal (tripping), 19:24.

       Third Period – 1, Dallas, Benn 21 (Morrow), 3:46. Penalties – None.

       Shots on goal – Dallas 10-9-6 25. Minnesota 8-9-8 25.

       Goalies – Dallas, Lehtonen (25-25). Minnesota, Hackett (24-25). A – 17,326. Referees – Chris Rooney, Brian Pochmara. Linesmen – Lonnie Cameron, Ryan Galloway.