With Kari Lehtonen resting a sore back the Dallas Stars have turned to Andrew Raycroft for two games this weekend, and he turned in a dandy of a performance in the first one. Raycroft stopped 22 of 23 shots in regulation and overtime and then was 3-3 in the shootout as the Stars beat Carolina 2-1 at American Airlines Center.
“You can’t understate the importance of how good he was tonight,” said Stars coach Marc Crawford.
Raycroft, making his sixth start of the season, was good. He was brilliant with 42.4 seconds left in the overtime when he made a spectacular glove save on Carolina defenseman Joe Corvo.
“They hit the trailer and I read the pass across and I was able to get my eyes ahead of the play, which always helps,” said Raycroft. “You kind of throw a glove up and hope it hits it. Fortunately it did.”
That save helped the Stars get to a shootout, where Dallas center Brad Richards scored the only goal. Raycroft stopped Jussi Jokinen, Jeff Skinner and Eric Staal to get the Stars the extra point and run their points streak at home to ten games (9-0-1).
“He played great,” said Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas. “He’s been great every time he has stepped in the net. I think we all feel really confident. He's made some big saves at key times, like the last one in overtime. Everybody's just happy for him to get the chance to play. We all knew he was a pretty good goalie and now he has the chance to prove it."
The Stars needed solid goaltending to get two points in this game. In a game that wasn't filled with a lot of scoring chances, they could only muster on goal in regulation against Carolina’s Cam Ward, who was solid as well. James Neal scored off a rebound midway through the first period to put Dallas up 1-0. Carolina’s Jiri Tlusty tied it on a shot from the slot in the second period. Both Ward and Raycroft came up with big stops in the overtime and Raycroft made one extra stop in the shootout to get the win.
Raycroft improved to 4-2-0 on the season with a 1.90 goals against average and .937 save percentage. Those are impressive numbers and a reflection of how impressive Raycroft has been when the Stars have called on him this season.
“Most of the time for your goaltending, it gives your team a sense of security and that’s what Kari has done so well for us this this yea,” Crawford said. “For Andrew to come in and play as well as he has, that’s his fourth ‘A’ performance for us this year and he’s played in six games.”
Crawford noted that its’ hard to find players that get an ‘A’ from the coaches or management four times out of every six games.
“You work hard every day and you want to play well for the guys,” said Raycroft. “You want them to have confidence in you and not just feel like we’re mailing it in when I am in there. I want to give everyone a chance and so far, so good.”
Stars coach Marc Crawford said Andrew Raycroft would start again Saturday in Phoenix.
G Kari Lehtonen did not skate Friday. He received treatment for his sore back. He could skate Saturday.
F Toby Petersen (hand) is skating but is still not ready to return.
F Krys Barch (foot/ankle) has not resumed skating.