Every player on every team will tell you that every game during the season is important. But for the Dallas Stars, the next few weeks will be especially important as they try to keep their head above water without their emerging netminder, Kari Lehtonen.
No pressure there Mr. Raycroft.
There was a positive development for Stars fans as Lehtonen was back on the ice this morning for the first time since leaving in the first period of a game against the Coyotes two weeks ago. Since then he’s missed four games and has been receiving treatment on his strained groin from team trainers. Today, he hit the ice.
Head coach Glen Gulutzan shared today with Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News that it’ll still be awhile before we see Lehtonen return to game action. “…Lehts skated today for the first time, so we don’t think we’ll have Lehts before Christmas,” Gulutzan told Heika. “But after Christmas he should be a game player for us. We’ve got these next seven games before the Christmas break, so we’re focused on those.”
Gulutzan understands that the schedule over the next two weeks will be much tougher than it’s been since Lehtonen went down with his injury. After tonight’s game in Los Angeles, the Stars head to the East Coast for the New York area trifecta, before heading home for a three-game homestand. No team in the tight Western Conference can afford a long losing streak—the Stars are no different.
Dallas has been able to tread water thus far without Lehtonen as they’ve gone 2-2 without their netminder. Anyone that follows the Stars understands that Lehtonen has been the backbone of the team over the last two seasons. It’s not just the number of saves he’s been able to make over the last two seasons; it’s the quality of the saves and their timeliness.
They’ll need Raycroft to do his best Kari impersonation this December if they want to compete for a playoff spot in April.
After the Eastern Conference Game 2s played out on Saturday, we’re getting the Western Conference set today. You can watch the action via NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.
Here’s a quick overview of where specifically you can watch the contests:
St. Louis at Dallas (3:00 p.m. ET)
If you want to watch the game on television, NBC is the channel to do that. If you want to stream the game with the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.
Nashville at San Jose (8:00 p.m. ET)
The game will be televised on NBCSN. You can also stream the contest by clicking here.
Here’s some relevant pregame reading material:
With Eaves injured, Nichushkin will play for Stars in Game 2
Hitchcock, Blues know they need to slow down the Stars … but can they?
Sharks swarm in the third period, take down Predators in Game 1
Speed, skill help Stars score late victory to take series lead over Blues
The Pittsburgh Penguins have spoken out against a late, high hit that Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik threw on Olli Maatta early in the first period of an eventful Game 2 on Saturday.
Maatta left and didn’t return. He played only 31 seconds, and the Penguins were reduced to five defensemen for a large portion of the game. Orpik was given a minor penalty on the play, but the league’s Department of Player Safety may see it differently.
The hit occurred well after Maatta had gotten rid of the puck. He struggled on his way to the dressing room for further evaluation.
Based on multiple reports, Orpik wasn’t made available to the media following the game, which went to the Penguins as they earned the split on the road.
But the Penguins have taken issue with the hit.
“I thought it was a late hit,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, as per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”
The Pittsburgh Penguins will head back home with a split of their second-round series with the rival Washington Capitals.
Former Capitals forward Eric Fehr came back to burn his hold team, as he scored with under five minutes remaining in regulation to help lift the Penguins over Washington with a 2-1 victory in an eventful Game 2 on Saturday. Evgeni Malkin threw the puck toward the net and Fehr was able to re-direct it by Braden Holtby.
Oh, this was an eventful game, indeed.
It started early in the first period with Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik catching Penguins blue liner Olli Maatta with a late and high hit that warranted — at least for now — only a minor penalty for interference. Maatta, clearly in distress following the hit, didn’t play another shift and saw only 31 seconds of ice time in total, as Pittsburgh was reduced to five defensemen for the remainder of the game.
It continued in the third period. Kris Letang was furious after getting called for a trip on Justin Williams, and even more ticked off when the Capitals tied the game on the ensuing power play.
For two periods, the Capitals couldn’t get much going. Only four of their players had registered a shot on goal through 40 minutes, while the Penguins held the edge in that department and held the lead.
Washington came out with more jump in the third period, testing rookie netminder Matt Murray with 14 shots in the final 20 minutes. But the Penguins got the late goal to break the deadlock.
Kris Letang watched from the penalty box as the Washington Capitals tied up Game 2 with a power play goal in the third period. The Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman was called for tripping after he appeared to muscle Justin Williams off the puck as he entered the zone.
Letang let his disagreement with the call be known at the time, and was furious after the Capitals capitalized on a goal from Marcus Johansson.
The Capitals started the period down a goal and being outshot 28-10 by the Penguins, who need a win to even the series.
Also, it seems this is worth mentioning: