Lehtonen to Start Monday vs. Winnipeg

Sunday, 03.23.2014 / 2:30 PM CT / Inside Edge
By Mark Stepneski
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Lehtonen to Start Monday vs. Winnipeg

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.”

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 CHI 58 36 18 4 160 134 76
2 DAL 55 35 15 5 178 147 75
3 STL 57 31 17 9 138 133 71
4 LAK 54 33 18 3 151 128 69
5 COL 58 29 25 4 155 160 62
6 SJS 53 28 20 5 154 143 61
7 ANA 53 26 19 8 120 125 60
8 NSH 55 25 21 9 142 148 59
9 ARI 54 25 23 6 143 164 56
10 MIN 54 23 21 10 133 134 56
11 VAN 54 22 20 12 125 144 56
12 CGY 54 25 26 3 144 160 53
13 WPG 54 24 27 3 139 157 51
14 EDM 56 22 29 5 138 168 49

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Benn 55 28 34 16 62
T. Seguin 55 28 32 11 60
J. Klingberg 55 10 36 14 46
J. Spezza 52 18 22 5 40
P. Sharp 55 16 24 -2 40
A. Goligoski 55 4 20 16 24
C. Eakin 55 10 13 0 23
M. Janmark 55 10 10 14 20
J. Demers 48 7 12 16 19
V. Nichushkin 52 6 13 7 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Niemi 20 10 5 .908 2.52
K. Lehtonen 15 5 0 .912 2.79
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