When Dallas Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen went down with a knee injury, one that left the Stars no choice but to place him on injured reserve, Dallas fans held their collective breath. A breakout season (13-4-1, 2.34 GAA, .926 GAA) had Lehtonen carrying the Stars.
Entering Monday's game against the struggling Colorado Avalanche, Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan turned to veteran journeyman Andrew Raycroft. Raycroft has been in the NHL for 10 years, but hadn't registered a win in nearly a year with his last victory coming January 9. In his first start since Lehtonen's injury, Raycroft made 35 saves to give the Stars their first Lehtonen-less win of the season over the Avalanche.
Speaking of 10, Raycroft almost had his 10th career shutout Monday before Kevin Porter scored with about three minutes left.
Despite a 3-6-1 record in their last, the Stars still lead the Pacific Division by one point. Lehtonen was an integral part of Dallas' fast start, but without him for at least three weeks, the Stars will have to rely on Raycroft - a veteran of 276 NHL games - to carry the load. He is capable of it; though known as a back-up, he did start over 50 games twice in his career - in 2003-04 with the Boston Bruins and 2006-07 with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"Raycroft was huge for us. Nice for our guys to have some confidence in him," Gulutzan said to the Associated Press. "It's good for his confidence moving forward because we are going without Kari Lehtonen for a while."