DALLAS -- Kari Lehtonen wasn't supposed to make his debut on Thursday.
The plan was to honor Marty Turco for his 500 career games played (he hit No. 500 on Tuesday) and then watch him stonewall the St. Louis Blues for a big win. This plan, though, didn't come together. Turco just didn't have it. He allowed three first-period goals, including two 17 seconds apart.
Then, as the Stars tried to regain some momentum early in the second, Turco let in another and that was it. He allowed four goals in 11 shots and nine goals on 33 shots for Turco in the past two games. Stars coach Marc Crawford pulled Turco 1:50 into the period and sent in Lehtonen for his first NHL action since April 11, 2009.
"It was exciting," Lehtonen said. "It was not the way I'd like things to start, but it felt fine, and I kind of got into it. Now I feel a lot more comfortable."
Lehtonen saved 14 of the 16 shots he faced. One of the goals went off Stephane Robidas' skate, but Lehtonen got some action and was able to get a feel for NHL opponents before his expected start Saturday against Pittsburgh.
Lehtonen said his back, which required two offseason surgeries, felt fine.
"We were worried about that, but it turned out good," Lehtonen said. "I try every five minutes anyway to get up from the seat and do a little stretching and move around, so I think that helped."
The way things have gone the past two games -- getting outscored 11-2 -- the Stars could choose to simply go with the hot hand, as they did when Alex Auld and Turco were both playing and the Stars went with whoever was on a roll. That ended up being Turco for the final six games before the Olympic break. But it's not Turco right now. That gives Lehtonen a chance to step up.
It will be interesting to see if he can do it.