Kari Lehtonen is stealing the show this preseason for the Dallas Stars.
There was some concern, when new Dallas Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan took the job in June, that this team would revert to a defensive style of hockey and, sans Brad Richards, become one that could not score any goals. Preseason doesn't mean much, but the Stars hope that outscoring their opponents 25-14 en route to a 5-1 record will help assuage those fears a bit.
The offensive fireworks were on display tonight as the Panthers came to town for what figured to be a chippy affair after a spirited end to a pretty competitive game in Sunrise on Tuesday night, but the Stars were more disciplined, and in a juxtaposition of Tuesday night, spend the majority of the third period on the power play. Tuesday Florida out-shot Dallas 23-3 in the third period. Thursday the Stars out-shot them 17-4.
Kari Lehtonen was spectacular in stopping 22 of 23 shots faced. The only Panther goal came just as a 5-on-3 expired, with Nick Grossman barely out of the box. Otherwise Lehtonen was perfect, including two first period breakaway chances for Florida.
Richard Bachman played the third period and stopped all four shots he faced while watching the Stars tally four goals in the final frame.The plan was for Kari Lehtonen to play the whole game, so we don't know just yet if his removal was for health reasons or simply because Gulutzan wanted another look at Bachman in a game situation. If it was the latter, the Stars played so effectively that he'll need another look on Saturday in St. Louis, where it's expected that Raycroft will see much of the action.
Let's talk about the scoring after the jump, and there was PLENTY of it...
The offense came from Mike Ribeiro and Alex Goligoski in a big way tonight. A goal and five assists for Ribs, and a goal and three assists for Goligoski led the way and overshadowed nice performances from Loui Eriksson and Vernon Fiddler (1 goal, 1 pretty assist) and even Tom Wandell was heard from tonight, notching the seventh goal in what was already a rout.
Trevor Daley had his strongest game of the preseason to date, making a number of forrays into the offensive zone, tallying five shots on goal, and scoring a goal on a slap shot from the point that was facilitated by a Holmstrom-esque screen from Fiddler in front of Jose Theodore.
The Florida Panthers...had a rough night. They routinely conceded the middle of the ice and failed to get into passing lanes. Jose Theodore had a strong opening period (though the Stars hit the pipe three times in the frame) but was unable to hold them back forever. The dam broke in the third.
Michel Ryder added two assists for the Stars tonight but was better than that, having been on the ice for five of the Stars seven goals. That guy likes to shoot the puck. More on this tomorrow.
I'll have more detailed thoughts on this game and where many individuals are moving forward as the preseason wraps on Saturday afternoon in St. Louis. For now, celebrate a touchdown! 7-1 Stars.