There is a reason why Kari was signed to a large extension for the next several years. He is an elite goaltender that can keep the Dallas Stars in a game on any given night.
Last night, it took perfection from Kari just to give Dallas a fighting chance against the Kings. Throughout the first 40 minutes, the team defense was nearly non-existent, allowing the Kings to have prime scoring opportunities and chances.
I saw on twitter last night where someone mentioned that it was like watching the Kings play with their food before they ate it. It certainly seemed like just a matter of time before the Kings went up by a few goals, and iced the game away.
But they didn't.
Instead, Kari stood on his head through the first two frames, giving the Stars a chance to wake up and start playing. While it wasn't a spectacular third period, it was more than decent. And with a brick wall in your net, sometimes that's all you really need.
Mark Stepneski sums it up pretty well in his recap of last night's game.
Lehtonen, playing on consecutive nights, was a rock in goal for the Stars, who were outplayed for a good part of the game.
"We didn't have a practice this morning so we wanted to give him some extra shots," Jagr joked after the game. "So, he doesn't have to work out after the game because he worked out during the game. That was our plan and it worked. Not all the time, but today it did."
And Lehtonen saw plenty of shots, several of them quality chances. His first save of the game set the tone for the night. With the Kings on the power play, Lehtonen shot up his glove hand to stop a Jake Muzzin shot from the slot.
"It started well and I had a couple of good saves and that carried the whole game," Lehtonen said. "They had a lot of good chances, but sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you don't. It was nice to get a few of those bounces tonight. We've had it rough the past couple of weeks, so it was nice."
The Kings had 30 shots over the first 40 minutes of the game, including 18 in the second period. But despite being outplayed through two periods and outshot 30-15, the Stars were in a scoreless tie thanks to Lehtonen.
"This is one where your goalie saves you in the first 40 and we picked up in the last 20. Certainly, Kari kept us in," said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. "It was a back-to-back and in back-to-backs you need your goalie to be good and he was tonight. Our goalie was our best player."
So does this win mean we can take our finger off the panic button, or get back in line for the roller coaster? It's a tough call to make. By all accounts, the Stars played much worse against the Kings than they did against the Avalanche. And yet they won the former and lost the latter. If management or ownership is planning on making any changes, it is unlikely that the fact that this game winding up in the win column is going to have any effect on their choices. After all, one loss should not be the basis for major decisions, and neither should one win.
However, a win is still ultimately a win, and it was against a very good team. Hopefully the Stars can build some confidence from this one, and continue to roll as they get a chance to redeem themselves against Colorado this Saturday.
Coming up in today's links: More thoughts on last night's game, some other news from around the NHL, and Martin Brodeur scores his THIRD goal of his career.
- Mark Stepneski has some good quotes from last night's game, mostly acknowledging the work that Kari did. [Stars Inside Edge]
- Mike Heika displays his predictive skills, as this one was written before the game began last night. It talks about the lack of defensive responsibility the Stars have had lately. [Dallas News]
- With the trade deadline coming up, people are taking a guess at what the Stars could receive based on who they trade. I like the sound of these. [Opposing Views]
- Some of you may know who Wil Wheaton is. If so, you should also know that he is a big Kings fan. But that doesn't mean he likes what Brown does. He also hates Kari now, too. (Language warning) [Twitter/Twitter]
- The NHL writers take a look at whether the Stars should keep or trade Captain Brenden Morrow. [NHL]
- Todd Maternowski has gathered up the 10 worst losses in Dallas Stars history. The picture alone is worth the click over. [Thursday Morning Cupcheck]
- I'm a day late on this one, but Bob Sturm has his thoughts on the approaching trade deadline. [Fox Sports]
- I've linked to something similar before, but this is the best one I've seen so far. This is the intro to stats that tells you what each one is and what it means. It's like "Advanced NHL Stats for dummies." It's short, simple, and exactly what I need for whenever Josh Lile starts talking to me. I'm saving this page. [Jibble Scribbits]
- Rick Nash decided to toss out a flying elbow last night, and could be next on Shanaban's radar. [Puck Daddy]
- Here are the 3 stars from last night's games, including Kari Lehtonen as the number one star. Deservedly so. [Puck Daddy]
- For your video of the day, Martin Brodeur scores his third goal of his career. It's a bit of an odd one too. Take a look. It leaves the announcers absolutely stunned: