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Monday Update: Lehtonen Close, Could be Ready Tuesday

Monday, 03.17.2014 / 6:54 PM / Inside Edge
By Mark Stepneski
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Monday Update: Lehtonen Close, Could be Ready Tuesday
The Dallas Stars practiced in Winnipeg Monday and the focus was on defense after Sunday night\u2019s 7-2 to the Jets.

The Dallas Stars practiced in Winnipeg Monday and the focus was on defense after Sunday night’s 7-2 to the Jets.

The seven goals against matched a season-worst for the Stars, who were plagued by costly turnovers and defensive lapses. The Stars talked about the issues, looked at video and addressed the issues in Monday’s on-ice session.

“Talked about our play away from the puck, which I didn’t think we were committed enough. We didn’t win enough wall battles and we made some big mistakes that we haven’t been making,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “We went through the video, reinforced where we needed to be. Our opening drill was D zone positioning, talked about the puck support we need, our second man in the D zone which I thought at times he got there too slow.

“It reminded me a lot of coming out of Colorado (6-2 loss in December), where halfway through the game we didn’t play very well defensively and this was a mirror image of what we did there.”

Ruff and his players said they’ll have to put Sunday night’s game behind them. They have two more big games on the road trip, starting with Tuesday’s tilt in Pittsburgh and then it will be Philadelphia on Thursday.

The Stars still hold the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, and with a game in hand on Phoenix, which is tied with the Stars at 75 points, and the advantage in the regulation/overtime wins tiebreaker, they still control their own destiny in the race.

“We’ve got 15 games left. We’re still in a good spot,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “We hold our own fate here and we’ve got to move on and get ready for next game.”

Lehtonen close to returning, Nilstorp assigned to Texas

Kari Lehtonen went through another practice Monday and appears ready to return from the concussion that has kept him out since March 8.

“I thought Kari had a good day,” Ruff said. “He got a good day’s skate today and tomorrow morning will tell the tale, but I think he is real close.”

Lehtonen is close enough that the Stars sent goaltender Cristopher Nilstorp, who has been backing up Tim Thomas, to the American Hockey League on Monday.

Stars center Vernon Fiddler did not skate Monday, but it sounds as if he should be able to play Tuesday in Pittsburgh.

“Just a maintenance day,” Ruff said. “It shouldn’t be an issue.”

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 NSH 64 41 16 7 192 155 89
2 ANA 64 40 17 7 189 177 87
3 STL 63 40 18 5 197 159 85
4 CHI 64 38 21 5 188 152 81
5 WPG 64 32 20 12 179 172 76
6 VAN 62 36 23 3 180 167 75
7 MIN 62 33 22 7 176 161 73
8 CGY 62 33 25 4 175 160 70
9 LAK 62 29 21 12 166 162 70
10 SJS 64 31 25 8 179 181 70
11 COL 63 27 25 11 167 182 65
12 DAL 63 27 26 10 196 210 64
13 ARI 63 20 36 7 138 214 47
14 EDM 63 18 35 10 143 208 46

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Benn 63 23 37 -3 60
T. Seguin 55 29 30 0 59
J. Spezza 63 15 37 -5 52
E. Cole 57 18 15 4 33
T. Daley 60 16 17 -10 33
J. Klingberg 49 10 23 1 33
C. Eakin 60 14 14 -2 28
A. Hemsky 57 9 17 -9 26
A. Goligoski 63 2 24 1 26
A. Roussel 61 12 11 -11 23
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
K. Lehtonen 25 13 10 .905 2.97
J. Enroth 13 25 2 .900 3.30
 
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