The Dallas Stars are going to have to ride Andrew Raycroft while No. 1 goalie Kari Lehtonen is out with a groin injury, and Raycroft got the trip off to a good start Monday night. Raycroft stopped 35 of 36 shots to lead the Stars to a 3-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche in Denver.
“I felt great. I felt good in practice every day and I feel like I am doing the right things. Tonight I feel like our guys played great, especially in the third. We didn’t give much up at all,” said Raycroft. “It’s nice to get a win. It’s just as important to have all the guys believe in me and know that I can get wins for them. It’s always a lot more fun to win.”
Raycroft will be the guy in net for the Stars while Lehtonen is out with a groin injury. Lehtonen is expected to miss at least three weeks.
“It’s nice for our guys to have some confidence in him,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “And it’s good for his confidence moving forward because we are going to be without Lehts for a while. We thought he played tremendous and we are just going to keep moving forward. “
It was Raycroft’s first win of the season (1-5-0) and his first win since he shutout Minnesota on January 9 of last season. It also snapped a personal seven-game losing streak.
This was the first time this season that Raycroft has played in a game other than the second end of a back-to-back set and it was the first time the Stars have scored more than two goals in a game he has played
“It seemed like when he came in there we never played our best games. You need two goalies during the season to help you win,” said Stars forward Michael Ryder, who scored two goals. “He’s been there for us, supporting us even though he doesn’t play as much as Kari. We need him now and we showed him that really want to play for him.”
Raycroft was big in the first two periods, stopping all 27 shots he faced. He stopped 11 in the first period and 16 in the second, including great stops on quality, point blank chances by Paul Stastny and Ryan O'Reilly.
“I thought our D did a good job of sealing out around him. He made the first saves and we did a good job around the net,” said Gulutzan. “Then he made some real big saves, which gives the bench a little pick up. That was the difference.”
The Stars led 1-0 through 40 minutes on a goal by Eric Nystrom, who banged home a rebound of a Vernon Fiddler shot off the rush with 4:04 left in the first.
The Stars dominated the shot clock early in the third and were able to extend the lead to 2-0 with 5:24 left in the game when Loui Eriksson set up a breakaway by Ryder, who beat Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov with a wrist shot.
“I saw Loui get the puck, kind of busted and caught their D a little off guard,” said Ryder. “I tried to get a quick shot off and beat him high glove.”
The Avalanche finally got a puck past Raycroft on their 34th shot on the night. Kevin Porter scored off the rebound of a Colin Wilson point shot with 3:36 remaining.
But Ryder sealed the deal for Raycroft and the Stars, scoring into an empty net with 27.7 seconds remaining.
The Stars won despite missing five key players: Lehtonen, captain Brenden Morrow, defenseman Trevor Daley, defenseman Alex Goligoski and right wing Adam Burish.
“The biggest thing with for that win is that with everything that has happened, it has given the team the sense that if we play a certain way we can have success,” said Gulutzan. “And it was real good for Razor to come out and play a game. You could see it in his focus over the last day or two. That’s why we got him. He’s been a starter in the league and he can help you win games. That’s what he did tonight.”
*Brenden Morrow (back) is expected to return for Thursday’s game against Ottawa.
*Trevor Daley (back) could return Thursday or Saturday.
*The Stars were 0-4 on the power play Monday and are now 0-20 on the PP over their last eight games.
*The Stars were 3-3 on the penalty kill and are 16-17 (94.1%) on the PK over the last five games.