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Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Lehtonen almost 100 percent healthy

By Dennis Hall

If there were lingering questions about the health of Kari Lehtonen's back, he answered them Tuesday night by bending and sliding and bouncing around the crease to make a flurry of impressive saves.

Final tally: 47 shots by San Jose, 45 saves by Lehtonen.  It was easily Lehtonen's best performance as a Star and one of the best of his six-year career. And the 8-2 win eased a lot of the frustration that the Stars and their fans had been experiencing because of their post-Olympic struggles.

Not far removed from a pair of back surgeries, Lehtonen was feeling great Tuesday after picking up his first win since April of 2009.

"I don't know if (my health) is 100 percent, but it was a huge step in the right direction," Lehtonen said. "It was nice to see I could play at this level again."

The next question: Can he do it again? The Stars play host to Philadelphia on Thursday and coach Marc Crawford left no doubt that Lehtonen will be back in goal for that game.

Why not? The Stars ended a three-game losing streak with perhaps their most impressive win of the season Tuesday, and Lehtonen was the No. 1 star of the game. Lehtonen seemed happier for his teammates than he was for himself.

"This team really needed to win," Lehtonen said. "We've been in games but ended up losing. It was nice to get a win in my first game here at home."