Over the past four games, the Dallas Stars have been playing like just that.
On Tuesday night, Dallas visited the Edmonton Oilers, winning their fourth straight contest by a score of 4-1. However, despite the three-goal differential, the game was much closer than it appears. Until the final four minutes of the final period, it was actually just a one-goal lead for Dallas. So how did Dallas manage to hold on for the victory? Two words:
Edmonton got to an early lead, as Taylor Hall got one past Lehtonen about seven minutes into the contest. After that, Lehtonen was literally unstoppable, sending aside the next 35 shots fired his way. The second period was particularly difficult, as the Oilers peppered Lehtonen with 16 shots, ultimately being stoned each and every time. It was no secret that he received first star honors.
“That was the only one that went in and I regrouped,” Lehtonen said. “You just try to tell yourself that you are a pretty good goalie, you should be here playing and you’ve got the skills. You just try to not think about it.”
Well, Stars’ defenseman Brenden Dillon sure has been thinking about the stellar play of his goaltender.
“Kari’s been great,” Dillon said. “He’s been our best player. Night in, night out he’s been really great for us.”
While the Stars have won four straight games, Lehtonen has won his last five starts, sporting an impressive 1.77 GAA to match a save percentage of .940 over that span. On the season, he is currently ranked as the league’s 10th best goaltender, according to the statistics. If Dallas is to compete in the Western Conference, Lehtonen will clearly be the reason why. The Stars have some offensive depth with guys like Jamie Benn, Loui Eriksson and the ageless wonder Jaromir Jagr.
But don’t look now. With division foe San Jose Sharks currently riding an awful six-game losing streak, Dallas is rapidly gaining ground, slowly climbing toward the top of the Pacific Division.