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Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Kari Lehtonen honored for stellar October

By Mark Stepneski



FRISCO -- It was an excellent first month of the season for Dallas Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen, and on Tuesday there was some recognition for the performance.

The NHL named Lehtonen the league’s Second Star for October for his 8-1-0 record, 1.75 goals against average and .947 save percentage. Toronto's Phil Kessel (18 points in 11 games) took the First Star honors and Edmonton's Nikolai Khabibulin (5-0-2, 1.12, .960) was the Third Star.

Lehtonen's eight wins were tops in the league, his save percentage was second and the goals against average was fourth.

“It’ feels good when you do a lot of work and are able to help the team win some games. That’s what every goalie wants to do,” said Lehtonen. “So far it’s been going well and when I’ve been having a tough time, they’ve been helping me out. It’s been fun so far and hopefully we can keep it going.”

Lehtonen has allowed more than two goals in a game just once in nine starts. In five of the nine starts he has stopped 35 or more shots.

“Kari, for us, has been huge. It’s well deserved,” Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said of Lehtonen being honored.

There’s been much of made of Lehtonen’s work over the past couple season to get into the best shape of his career, and Gulutzan said it is paying dividends for the 27-year-old Finn.

“Kari is working now. He’s putting in the work on and off the ice,” said Gulutzan. “Lo and behold he is getting the results.”

But along with the work, Lehtonen said, has come some patience.

“I think the biggest key is trying to be a little bit more calm and not trying to do too much,” he said. “I find it easier to play that way. I think that’s been the biggest key. I try to read the play. I think all the guys have helped me a lot. It’s been a lot more simple games and simple situations than before. That’s always easier for goalies.”