The Dallas Stars have been surging towards a playoff berth in the past week, and sit just two points away from the eighth spot in the Western Conference standings. Many of the Stars’ wins this season have come thanks to the strong play of goaltender Kari Lehtonen, but an injury now puts his impact on the rest of the season in question. The Stars will now rely heavily on Richard Bachman, and have recalled Cristopher Nilstorp from the AHL to serve as Bachman’s backup.
Lehtonen is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury, and left the Stars’ Tuesday game against the Los Angeles Kings in the first period. Bachman was stellar in relief, turning aside 22 shots and helping the Stars get a huge 5-1 win. Bachman had played only 35 minutes since his last start, which came on Feb. 26. He is 4-3-0 this season with a 3.72 goals-against average and a .860 save percentage. Replacing Lehtonen, who is 14-11-2 this season with a 2.67 goals-against average, is no easy task but if Bachman can play like he did for the Stars last season they may still have a chance to reach the playoffs. In 12 appearances during the 2011-12 season, Bachman was 8-5-1 with a 2.77 goals-against average.
Nilstorp has appeared in five games for the Stars this season, and is 1-3-1. While Lehtonen’s injury doesn’t appear to be serious, he did miss five games in February with a groin issue. The Stars play at the Nashville Predators on Friday before returning home to host the San Jose Sharks on Saturday. They have nine games remaining in April.