Ruff on Lehtonen: ‘We need him to be better. There is no masquerading that point’

After Dallas Morning-News columnist Tim Cowlishaw took Kari Lehtonen to task over his inconsistent play, Stars’ head coach Lindy Ruff agreed his No.1 goaltender needs to be better moving forward.

The 31-year-old is coming off a 5-3 loss to Tampa Bay on Thursday night, which saw him allow four goals on 28 shots including goals on the first two Lightning shots.

“We need him to be better. There is no masquerading that point,” Ruff said Friday. “Met with him again this morning. We’ll just take it one game at a time here. It seems like every night the other goalie is outdueling us.”

Lehtonen had what he referred to as a productive meeting with his coach following Thursday’s loss.

“I think they always are,” Lehtonen said. “We’re both trying to do the same thing, help the team win and find ways to be more productive and more successful out there. It’s good stuff.

“You want to go through all the situations and learn from them. Then you try to forget, start from the clean slate again and focus on the next game.”

Lehtonen’s wins (21) rank 12th in the league; however, among the 42 goaltenders ranked as league-leaders, Lehtonen’s goals-against average (2.96) ranks 32nd and his save percentage (.904) is 34th.

Those numbers are below the 2.41 G.A.A. and .919 save percentage he posted last season.

“I want to be more patient. When things aren’t going great, you try to do too much. That’s not good,” Lehtonen said. “I just need to take a step back, being more patient in situations and read what’s happening out there better and put a solid 60 minutes together.”

Stars general manager Jim Nill believes Lehtonen can get it together.

“If you ask anyone, including Kari, he knows he’s been inconsistent,” said Nill. “He’s shown in the past he can be an elite goalie. Everybody has their ups and downs, and he’s just got to learn how to manage those good times with the bad times.”

On Friday the Stars recalled goaltender Anders Lindback from his conditioning assignment and reassigned Jussi Rynnas to Texas of the American Hockey League.

Lindback made two AHL starts posting a 1-0-1 record. The 26-year-old is expected to get a start this weekend as Dallas visits the Buffalo Sabres and New York Rangers in a back-to-back situation.

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