Now that Ilya Bryzgalov has made peace with the universe (and set a Flyers shutout record in the process), it’s time to pay attention to another shutout streak — the one belonging to Kari Lehtonen of the Dallas Stars.
As Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News reports, Lehtonen is on fire. He’s 8-0-1 in his last nine starts with a 1.29 GAA and .955 save percentage.
He also hasn’t allowed a goal in 128:32.
While he’s got a ways to go before topping Bryzgalov — the Master of the Universe went 249:43 without allowing a goal — Lehtonen is just 60:08 away from breaking the Dallas franchise mark, set by Cesare Maniago in 1967-68.
Lehtonen is going to have plenty of opportunity to break the record, too. Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan confirmed he’ll start the 28-year-old Finn in each of Dallas’ next four games against the Blackhawks, Coyotes, Canucks and Flames.
“I think for any team right now, the goaltending becomes a real big factor,” Gulutzan said. “It’s really is like playoffs now where everything tightens down. There’s a big spotlight on your goalie now and the other team’s goalie.
“Kari’s rested. He’s going to get tonight [vs. Chicago] and he’s going to get the next four games. It’s important, and we feel we’ve got a better chance than most people because we’ve got Kari Lehtonen.”
Lehtonen’s streak started in the third period of a 4-3 shootout win over San Jose on Mar. 8 — a game in which he made 45 saves. That was followed by shutout victories over Anaheim and Minnesota, pushing Dallas atop the Pacific Division, two points clear of Phoenix and three clear of San Jose.
As for Lehtonen’s streak — he’s still got a ways to go to catch Brian Boucher, the NHL’s all-time leader. His record of 332:01 was set in 2003-04, which included five consecutive shutouts.