Monday, October 10, 2011
Lehtonen stellar as Stars win in shootout
By Mark Stepneski
DALLAS -- It wasn’t pretty, but it was two points for the Dallas Stars Monday night at American Airlines Center. The Stars scored their first goal of the night with 27.1 seconds left in the game, which was good enough to tie the Phoenix Coyotes and force overtime. And then they took the extra point in the shootout.
"It wasn't the greatest start, but it isn't how you start but how you finish,” said Stars center Vernon Fiddler. “We got two points and you never know when that extra point is going to be huge for you. It's good to take it now."
Before Loui Eriksson tipped home a Sheldon Souray point shot to force the extra period, it was the Kari Lehtonen show for the Dallas Stars. Lehtonen ended up stopping 40 of 41 shots in regulation and overtime and then two of three in the shootout.
“He was unbelievable,” Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski said of Lehtonen.
Through his first two starts this season Lehtonen has stopped 77 of 79 shots for an impressive .975 save percentage.
"He's obviously setting himself apart from other goalies in the league. I haven't been here long, but you can see why,” said Fiddler. “You need that kind of effort every night to compete in this league and contend for a playoff spot. It's nice to see that he is playing so well. I played against him a few times and I knew he had a lot of skill, but not this much.”
And the Stars needed Lehtonen at his best because it wasn’t exactly a stellar effort in front of him at times.
“I'd say we've got a lot of work to do. I think our habits need to improve. We have to have the ability to play a game that when people watch they go, 'I know what these guys are all about.' Quite frankly, we aren't there yet,” said Gulutzan.
Of particular concern was the power play, which was 0-7 and had just 6 shots on goal during those chances.
“Our power play, which I am in charge of, was atrocious,” said Gulutzan. “I think we have to revisit it and I think we have to revisit our work ethic on the power play because we don’t win any battles.”
There were no complaints about the Stars’ penalty kill, which was 6-7 and kept Phoenix off the board until early in the third when Radim Vrbata tallied to give the Coyotes a 1-0 lead.
The Stars PK also came up big in overtime, killing off a 4-on-3 Phoenix power play and helping get the game to a shootout, where Eriksson and Mike Ribeiro scored for the Stars. Lehtonen stopped Patrick O’Sullivan and Vrbata and allowed only a goal by Doan.
And when all was said and done the Stars had two points, thanks in large part to the goaltending of Lehtonen.
“Unbelievable,” Gulutzan said of Lehtonen. “He’s the reason we have two points. And I’ll also keep in mind that that a goalie is part of your team, but at the end of the day you can’t have this every night because it won’t go.”
*Krys Barch and Toby Petersen were healthy scratches
*Adam Pardy (rib) and Nicklas Grossman (groin) both missed their third straight game due to injury.
*Monday’s announced attendance at American Airlines Center was 6,306.