Goalie nods: Dallas opens with Niemi over Lehtonen

AP
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Dallas, home of the NHL’s most-discussed goalie platoon, has made the call for its opening-night starter against Anaheim.

Antti Niemi, who came on in relief of Kari Lehtonen in last year’s 6-1 playoff elimination loss to St. Louis, will be in between the pipes tonight at American Airlines.

More: Goaltending remains the biggest question mark in Dallas

The Stars’ two-goalie setup was under the microscope throughout last season, and that scrutiny only intensified in the playoffs. Head coach Lindy Ruff grew wary of the situation — saying he was “tired of explaining our two goalie thing” — but, after getting bounced, he insisted the Stars didn’t one clear-cut No. 1 netminder.

GM Jim Nill agreed. He shot down rumblings of a potential Lehtonen buyout in June, remaining committed to the goaltending tandem that costs Dallas $10.4 million annually.

It’s probably worth noting that Dallas made the decision to open last year with Niemi as well. He played well, posting a 37-save shutout against Pittsburgh.

For the Ducks, John Gibson gets the start tonight.

Elsewhere…

Al Montoya will start over Carey Price (flu) when Montreal takes on Buffalo. The Sabres will counter with Robin Lehner.

Jaroslav Halak, coming off an impressive performance with Team Europe at the World Cup, will be in goal for the Islanders. The Rangers are going with Henrik Lundqvist.

— No surprises in Columbus, as both the Bruins and Jackets are going with their No. 1s: Tuukka Rask and Sergei Bobrovsky.

— In a rematch of last year’s first-round playoff series, Ben Bishop and the Bolts will host Petr Mrazek and the Red Wings.

— Former teammates Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo will get the starts as the Devils take on the Panthers in Florida.

Jake Allen, who stopped 17 of 19 shots in last night’s win over Chicago, goes back-to-back as the Blues take on the Wild. Devan Dubnyk goes for Minnesota.

— As Brough wrote earlier, Connor Hellebuyck has been named Winnipeg’s opening-night starter. He’ll be up against Cam Ward, who gets the nod for Carolina.

— Familiar matchup in Pittsburgh as Marc-Andrey Fleury and the Pens host Braden Holtby and the Caps. Fleury, of course, is the Pens’ No. 1 starter with Matt Murray (hand) sidelined.