Kari Lehtonen returned to the net Thursday night after missing four games with a sore back, and the San Jose Sharks kept him busy.
The Stars netminder faced 43 shots in a 4-3 overtime to the Sharks at American Airlines Center.
“The first two periods I was trying to find myself and get used to playing again,” Lehtonen said. “In the third period I got comfortable and it started to feel more normal.”
The Stars needed Lehtonen early in the game, when San Jose went on a five-on-three power play for 1:30 just six minutes into the contest. Lehtonen stopped five shots on that five-on-three and 15 of 16 in a first period that ended with the two teams tied.
“He played really well. He stood tall early on the penalty kill. That was a pretty important time of the game and he was big,” said Stars coach Marc Crawford. “For Kari, in his first game back after a week off, it was a pretty good outing. He was real good in the third period, I thought.”
Lehtonen ended up with 39 saves on 43 shots in the game. He was strong in the third period, stopping all 17 shots he faced as the Stars overcame a 3-2 deficit to the tie the game and get it to overtime, where the Sharks won in with a power play goal by Logan Couture.
“I think in the first two periods I made some questionable reads and I made some mistakes I wasn’t happy about,” said Lehtonen. “There were a couple of goals I wasn’t happy with. … It was good to get a lot of shots and as the game went on I got more comfortable.”
Special teams make a point for Stars
It was a good night for the special teams of the Dallas Stars. The power play went 2-2 in the game and the power play killed off 6 of 7 San Jose power plays, including a 1:39 five-on-three advantage early in the game.
Win the special teams battle and a lot of times you win the game, but not on this night. San Jose ended up with the timely special teams goal, getting a power play tally from Logan Couture in overtime that gave San Jose a 4-3 win.
The special teams play was, however, a key factor in getting the Stars at least a point on this night, including a penalty kill in the final minute that got the game to overtime.
“It was huge to get that kill,” said defenseman Stephane Robidas. “They get a goal there and we don’t get a point. That was big.”
Defenseman Matt Niskanen was a healthy scratch for a second straight game.
Forwards Toby Petersen and Krys Barch were both activated from injured reserve Thursday. Petersen played against San Jose and Barch was a healthy scratch.
“We went through stretches where we weren’t too good on the PK or the PP and we end up winning games. Tonight we score two goals on the power play and the PK is pretty good and we end up losing. That’s just the way it is and sometimes you’ve got to battle through it.”
Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas