Lehtonen to Start Monday vs. Winnipeg

Sunday, 03.23.2014 / 3:30 PM
Mark Stepneski

Coach Lindy Ruff usually doesn’t tip his hand on his starting goaltender, but he did say Sunday that Kari Lehtonen will get the nod in net when the Stars take on the Winnipeg Jets at American Airlines Center Monday night.

“I am just going game by game, but obviously with Kari coming back, being fresh and looking like he did last night, he is going to get the start for us tomorrow,” Ruff said. “We’ll look at the next game after that.”

Lehtonen, in his second game back from a concussion, stopped 26 of 27 shots as the Stars snapped a four-game winless streak with a 3-1 win over Ottawa on Saturday.

Ruff was asked if the team is different with the Lehtonen compared to Tim Thomas in net, since the two goaltenders play different styles.

“I think the comfort there is that we’ve been around Kari’s style the whole year. That’s comforting for us,” said Ruff. “Tim’s style is an aggressive style where you’ve got to be ready to protect off his back side. Our defending hasn’t been built that way for the most part. It’s just something that our D has to get used to.”

The Stars are 1-2-1 with Thomas starting in goal.

Optional practice

The Stars held an optional practice Sunday morning and there were just five players on the ice. Forwards Chris Mueller and Shawn Horcoff, defensemen Aaron Rome and Kevin Connauton and goaltender Tim Thomas were the guys on the ice.

The Stars have a back-to-back coming up Monday (vs. Winnipeg) and Tuesday (at Chicago), making it three games in four days, so conserving energy is important.

“I just feel our energy level was a little low to start that game last night, coming off the road,” Ruff said. “We’ve got a back-to-back and I’d rather err on the side of letting the player decide what’s best for him, whether it’s doing a 15-20 minute off ice or doing 15 out there. There is no difference, really. I think there is comfort in the player knowing this is what I need best for myself.”

A chance to get even with the Jets

The Stars will take on the Winnipeg Jets Monday night at American Airlines Center. It was just a week ago that the Jets handed the Stars a 7-2 defeat at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg. The Stars will be looking for some payback on Monday.

“We went into their building and they took advantage of us, so this is a good opportunity for us to return the favor,” said Stars defenseman Trevor Daley.

Cole day to day

There was no real update on the status of forward Erik Cole, who missed Saturday’s game with an upper body injury.

“Erik is just day to day,” said Ruff. “Hopefully he can push through, but it is the same thing he dealt with earlier in the year.”

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