Whatever the question has been for the Dallas Stars the last several weeks, Kari Lehtonen seems to have the answer.
The big Finn has been nothing short of spectacular during the team's recent 10-0-01 streak that has brought them to the top of the Pacific Division. He's started nine of those games, compiling the eye-popping statistics of an 8-0-1 record with a 1.29 GAA and .955 save percentage.
He added another notch to his belt Tuesday with his second consecutive shutout victory, this one of the 1-0 variety over the Minnesota Wild. He was named the first star of the night on both Puck Daddy and NHL.com and continued to make his case for best, or at least hottest, goalie in the league.
"The last month he's brought his game to a new level,'' (Stars coach Glen) Gulutzan said. ``Yeah, the shutout, but just how clean he was with the rebound control, I think is what was most impressive. He's given the guys the belief that he's not going to let any in."
After the jump, more on the Stars win over the Wild and today's game against the Winnipeg Jets, Sean Avery is kinda-sorta retired and the birth and death of the Buffaslug.
- Lots of people wrote about the greatness of Kari Lehtonen, including Mark Stepneski. [ESPN Dallas]
- It was another game that won't go down in the annals of compelling hockey from this season, but it was another two points, and the Stars ability to pick up two points in any type of game recently is something the team might be able to turn to down the stretch, as Mike Heika writes in this paywalled gamer. [DallasNews.com]
- Our friends over at Hockey Wilderness were not too impressed with the entertainment value of the game but appreciated how the Wild managed to be competitive but also lose and continue their quest for a higher draft pick. [Hockey Wilderness]
- The Wild, who are mired in a slump right now, are taking the moral victory of improved play out of Tuesday's game. This story also has a really nice quote about Lehtonen's save in the dying seconds. [St. Paul Pioneer Press]
- Assuming all goes well with the CBA this summer (please let everything go well with the CBA this summer), the Stars will play the Florida Panthers in San Antonio next fall for a preseason game. Fun times on the Riverwalk for everyone! [ESPN Dallas]
- Tyler Myers of the Buffalo Sabres has been suspended three games for his hit on Scott Gomez. [NHL.com]
- The NHL general managers approved hybrid icing Tuesday at their annual meeting, clearing the first hurdle for the rule change to come in as soon as next season. [USA Today]
- Sean Avery is sending all sorts of mixed messages on whether or not he's retired, but he told the television network Bravo that he's done with hockey. Of course he made the announcement on television. [New York Daily News]
- Sidney Crosby will return for the second time this season Thursday against the New York Rangers. Huzzah. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
- Meet the enemy, part the first: The Winnipeg Jets are pretty solid at home, but they may be without the services of defenseman Zach Bogosian again tonight. Dustin Byfuglien, however, will be in the lineup. [Winnipeg Free Press]
- Meet the enemy, part the second: It will be the first game in five days for those Jets, who have tried several strategies to stay fresh over that period. [Winnipeg Sun]
- Around the Pacific Division: The back end of the Western Conference playoff race is an absolute mess at the moment. The San Jose Sharks 3-2 loss overtime loss to the Calgary Flames combined with the Los Angeles Kings 5-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings means every team ranked from 8th to 11th has 78 points. [San Jose Mercury News/Los Angeles Kings]
- Other scoreboard watching: And the St. Louis Blues weren't any help either was they had a 3-1 lead on the Chicago Blackhawks but ended up falling 4-3 in the shootout. [Chicago Tribune]
- Learn about how to defend empty-net scenarios and enjoy what hockey players are really thinking when they realize they're out of position at the same time! [Backhand Shelf]
- This was a fun story about how the infamous Buffalo Sabres logo aptly nicknamed the Buffaslug came into existence. [Puck Daddy]
- So apparently Lehtonen had that game after taking a puck off his shoulder during warmups, as Glen Gulutzan talks about in his post game interview. I'm no hockey coach, but breaking your own team's starting goalie is not a strategy I would endorse.