Desperate Dallas to ride Lehtonen, sends Lindback to minors

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Dallas’ playoff fate looks like it’ll rest almost exclusively on Kari Lehtonen’s shoulders.

Lehtonen, the Stars’ goalie of record in 14 of the last 17 games, looks as though he’ll be playing plenty down the stretch as Dallas heads into Tuesday’s game against Colorado just four points back of Vancouver for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference.

“It tells you the desperation there is to have their best guy in the net to give them the best chance to win those games,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said, per the Morning-News. “There’s still situations where we’re going to need another guy to play, and Lindback is going to have to come in, but Kari will get the bulk of the tests.”

Ruff is referring to Anders Lindback, Dallas’ little-used backup that was sent to AHL Texas on Tuesday in order to get some playing time. It’s expected Lehtonen will play most, if not all, of Dallas’ upcoming games — Tuesday versus Colorado, Thursday versus Tampa Bay, Saturday in Buffalo, Sunday against the Rangers at MSG — so the team opted to get Lindback some minutes in the minors, and bring up journeyman Jussi Rynnas to fill the No. 2 spot.

It’ll be interesting to see how Lehtonen responds to the busy workload. He’s been a bell cow in the past — appearing in 65 games a season ago — but his numbers this season haven’t been great: 21.11.7 with a 2.96 GAA and .905 save percentage.