Wednesday, 10.12.2011 / 3:14 PM
Dallas Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen has been outstanding in winning his first two starts of the season.
That should come as no surprise to the St. Louis Blues.
Lehtonen looks to continue his dominance over a Blues team that embarks on a difficult portion of its schedule beginning Thursday night in Dallas.
After a 40-save performance in Monday's 2-1 shootout win over Phoenix, Lehtonen has stopped 77 of 79 shots in his two starts for Dallas (2-1-0).
"He's playing so well," left wing Vernon Fiddler told the Stars' official website. "I've played against him a few times, and I knew he had a lot of skill, but not that much."
Lehtonen, who is 6-1-0 with a 1.56 goals-against average and a shutout in seven career starts versus the Blues, should again expect to face a barrage of shots against an aggressive St. Louis team.
The Blues (1-1-0) have outshot their first two opponents by a combined 68-33. In Monday's 5-2 victory over Calgary, St. Louis fired 35 shots on goal, as Alex Pietrangelo
, Alex Steen
, Chris Stewart
, Kevin Shattenkirk
and Jason Arnott
With the team controlling the puck and disrupting the Flames' offense, Jaroslav Halak
only had to make 15 saves.
"We've got our forwards working their tails off coming back into their own end," Pietrangelo said. "We're trying to block as many shots as possible from the (defensemen) and the forwards. We've got a lot of guys bearing down here and sacrificing. Top to bottom, that's what we need here."
The Blues will likely need to see more efforts like that over the next few weeks, as they will play eight of their next nine away from St. Louis. They open a four-game trip in Dallas, where they're 4-6-4 since 2003-04.
The Stars swept the four-game series from St. Louis last season, with Lehtonen between the pipes for each game.
Halak was in the opposing goal for three of those contests, posting a 3.06 GAA.
Lehtonen is expected to be in net for the rest of Dallas' three-game homestand, according to first-year coach Glen Gulutzan.
Gulutzan has been pleased with what he has seen from Lehtonen and the penalty kill, which has denied 16 of 18 chances. His power play has room for improvement, however, after converting just 1 of 14 chances.
Against the Coyotes, the Stars were 0 for 7 on the power play while killing 6 of 7 Phoenix chances.
"We did a real good job on our PK. Kari was real good," Gulutzan said. "Our power play was atrocious. We have to revisit it and also revisit our work ethic on the power play."
Loui Eriksson's first goal of the season tied Monday's game with 28 seconds remaining in regulation and he scored on Dallas' first shootout attempt. He has six goals and four assists in his last nine games against the Blues.
was the only St. Louis player with multiple goals in last season's series with Dallas, scoring three times.
It's unclear if the Stars will have forward Eric Nystrom in the lineup one day after acquiring him from Minnesota.