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Lehtonen Definitely Back to Old Self, Showing Strong Form

Monday, 02.6.2012 / 2:04 PM CT / News
By Steve Hunt
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Lehtonen Definitely Back to Old Self, Showing Strong Form

There’s officially no doubt about it, Kari Lehtonen is definitely back to his old, pre-injury self. The Finnish-born goaltender heads into Tuesday’s game with Phoenix fresh off a 34-save performance where he stopped all but one shot in a 2-1 win over the Wild on Saturday at American Airlines Center, but he also denied two of three Minnesota shootout attempts.

Kari Lehtonen Highlights
His latest victory means he now has won his last three starts, a successful run that came after he dropped four straight before putting that streak to an abrupt halt with his first shutout of the season in a 1-0 win over Anaheim on Jan. 24, Dallas’ last game before the NHL All-Star break.

Lehtonen’s recent run of good form puts his season record at 19-11-1 and gives him a goals-against-average of 2.38. And seeing his No. 1 netminder return to the stellar form he displayed before he missed 12 games with a groin injury earlier this season is definitely music to the ears of Stars first-year head coach Glen Gulutzan.

“I think it took him a couple games to get himself back. The last three or four games he played, he was real, real sharp, so I think he’s back to where he needs to be,” Gulutzan said. “I think everybody is.”

Saturday’s win over Minnesota, a team the Stars are battling with for a playoff spot in the Western Conference, was Lehtonen’s third straight win in what was his 13th game after returning from the aforementioned injury, which he suffered on Nov. 26, 2011 at Phoenix. He didn’t return to the net for Dallas until Dec. 29, 2011 against Columbus and right away, it was clear there was some rust to be worked through.

 “I don’t feel like I’ve played at the level I’m capable of (since my return),” Lehtonen said. “It was hard, the first few games getting used to playing again, trusting my body and getting more comfortable. But I think in the later part, I started feeling normal again and had some good games. “Overall I wasn’t satisfied with the way things went. So now I’m really excited to play better.”

He definitely delivered on that promise on Saturday night at the AAC. But it was his 33-save performance several nights earlier in a 6-2 win over Anaheim at the Honda Center that had he and his teammates seeing the benefits of being well-rested following the All-Star break.

“Yeah, it was nice to have a few days to not do anything. Now we’re excited and ready to go again,” Lehtonen said.

Now that he’s put together a string of three consecutive strong performances in goal for the Stars, he hopes that’s only the beginning as he and his teammates make a push toward ending a postseason dry spell that has now reached three straight years.

“I’ll have to put more of those good games in a row there. That’s what I’m trying to do,” Lehtonen said. “It’s going to be a little different game the first time after the break. Everybody’s trying to find themselves. Hopefully we can do it better than them.”

Dallas now has 31 games remaining in the regular season. Lehtonen started the Stars’ final 33 games of the regular season last year under then head coach Marc Crawford. But Stars General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk stated before the season that seeing a repeat of that this year would be highly unlikely. And now that Dallas has a consistent and solid No. 2 goaltender in the young but talented Richard Bachman, this veteran between the pipes knows he figures to get his fair share of rest in the final stages of the regular season.

“We’ll see how it goes but I don’t think I will play that many games. I think everyone in this room and the coaching staff really feels good about Bachman,” Lehtonen said. “I’m sure he’s going to be out there and do a good job. We just both have to play really well to give this team a chance to make the playoffs.”

And there is already proof that things will be different this time around for the veteran goaltender as Bachman has already logged one start in the second half, getting the nod in last Thursday’s loss at San Jose on the second night of a back-to-back.




1 CHI 56 36 16 4 158 128 76
2 DAL 53 33 15 5 170 142 71
3 STL 55 30 17 8 132 129 68
4 LAK 51 31 17 3 135 117 65
5 SJS 51 27 20 4 147 138 58
6 NSH 53 25 20 8 136 139 58
7 COL 55 27 24 4 148 152 58
8 ANA 51 25 19 7 113 121 57
9 MIN 52 23 20 9 127 126 55
10 ARI 52 24 22 6 138 161 54
11 VAN 52 20 20 12 120 142 52
12 CGY 51 23 25 3 134 148 49
13 WPG 52 23 26 3 136 150 49
14 EDM 54 21 28 5 132 164 47


J. Benn 53 28 31 15 59
T. Seguin 53 28 28 10 56
J. Klingberg 53 8 35 14 43
J. Spezza 52 18 22 5 40
P. Sharp 53 16 24 -1 40
C. Eakin 53 10 13 1 23
A. Goligoski 53 3 20 17 23
M. Janmark 53 10 9 13 19
A. Roussel 51 8 10 5 18
V. Nichushkin 50 6 12 7 18
A. Niemi 20 10 5 .908 2.52
K. Lehtonen 13 5 0 .907 2.82 is the official Web site of DSE Hockey Club, L.P.  The Stars name and logos are registered trademarks of the NHL and the Stars. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2016 DSE Hockey Club, L.P. and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.

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