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Lehtonen Day-to-day With Head Injury

Sunday, 03.09.2014 / 5:38 PM / Inside Edge
By Mark Stepneski
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Lehtonen Day-to-day With Head Injury
Stars coach Lindy Ruff said goaltender Kari Lehtonen wasn\u2019t doing well today after being injured in a collision in Saturday night\u2019s game against the Minnesota Wild.

Stars coach Lindy Ruff said goaltender Kari Lehtonen wasn’t doing well today after being injured in a collision in Saturday night’s game against the Minnesota Wild. Lehtonen is being listed as day to day with a head injury.

“We know he’s not doing that well, so we have to make a decision later on today … as far as calling somebody up,” Ruff said after Sunday’s practice.

A few hours later the Stars made the decision, recalling goaltender Cristopher Nilstorp from the Texas Stars of the AHL.

Lehtonen was injured when Wild forward Erik Haula slammed into Lehtonen while driving the net. Lehtonen’s mask came off and his head hit the crossbar. Lehtonen, who suffered a cut to the head, left the game and did not return. Ruff was asked about the specifics of the injury on Sunday.

“It’s just a head injury right now,” Ruff said. “We’ll let him get through the day and see where we are at. It doesn’t look good though.”

With Lehtonen injured, the Stars will turn to Tim Thomas, acquired from Florida at the trade deadline in exchange for goaltender Dan Ellis. Thomas took over in net Saturday night, stopping all six shots he faced and picking up the win as the Stars rallied from a 3-2 deficit to defeat the Wild 4-3.

Thomas, who won a Stanley Cup with Boston in 2011 and won the Vezina Trophy in 2009 and 2011, brings a lot of experience to the table, especially in high pressure situations. That experience should be a boost for the Stars, who are in the thick of a fight to get into the playoffs.

“He’s not your conventional type of goaltender, but we knew that going in,” said Ruff. “He’s a battler, he’s athletic. I think in Tim’s case he has been in the fire before and he knows how to handle it. We’re hopeful that experience can help us.”

Last week, Thomas was out of the playoff picture with Florida. Now, he’s in the playoff hunt with the Stars, and that has him excited.

“The intensity of my last two games here, it’s been fun to be a part of,” Thomas said. “In Florida, we’ve been out of the playoffs for a while. We never really put it together there. For me, [being in a playoff race] makes it easier to play, more fun.”

The Stars got a look at Thomas in a tough situation Saturday night, liked what they saw and that has them feeling they are in good hands whenever Thomas is in goal.

“It’s great. Tim has been through a lot of experiences, which is why we are excited at acquiring him. He’s a veteran guy who has won a Stanley Cup, been in a lot of those positions,” said Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon. “Yesterday, to come into the game (down 3-2 in the third), it’s got to be nerve-racking. After the game when we were talking with him he said, ‘I’ve done that a couple times before.’ I think it is one of those things where experience is really the only way to go into the situations feeling good.”

Notes

*There was no word Sunday on the NHL handing out supplemental discipline to Wild forward Erik Haula for the collision with Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen. Haula was given a charging major and a game misconduct on the play.

*Stars coach Lindy Ruff said forward Valeri Nichushkin was fine after taking a hit to the leg from Wild forward Matt Cooke.

“He’s OK,” Ruff said.

*The Stars held an optional practice Sunday. There were ten players on the ice, including goaltender Tim Thomas, forwards Ryan Garbutt, Ray Whitney, Antoine Roussel, Erik Cole, Shawn Horcoff and Cody Eakin and defensemen Brenden Dillon, Kevin Connauton and Aaron Rome.

Also taking part in the practice was Thomas Speer, a local goaltending coach whom the Stars have been using as a third goaltender in practices recently.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 ANA 66 42 17 7 196 179 91
2 NSH 65 41 17 7 193 158 89
3 STL 63 40 18 5 197 159 85
4 CHI 64 38 21 5 188 152 81
5 WPG 65 32 21 12 180 175 76
6 VAN 63 36 24 3 182 173 75
7 MIN 63 34 22 7 179 163 75
8 CGY 63 34 25 4 178 162 72
9 LAK 63 30 21 12 171 164 72
10 SJS 65 32 25 8 185 183 72
11 COL 64 28 25 11 170 183 67
12 DAL 64 28 26 10 199 212 66
13 ARI 64 20 37 7 139 218 47
14 EDM 64 18 36 10 145 213 46

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Benn 64 23 38 -4 61
T. Seguin 55 29 30 0 59
J. Spezza 64 15 37 -5 52
J. Klingberg 50 10 24 2 34
T. Daley 61 16 17 -10 33
C. Eakin 61 15 15 0 30
A. Hemsky 58 9 17 -9 26
A. Goligoski 64 2 24 2 26
A. Roussel 62 12 12 -10 24
S. Horcoff 60 8 13 3 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
K. Lehtonen 26 13 10 .906 2.95
J. Enroth 13 25 2 .900 3.30
 
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