Coach Gulutzan makes successful debut with Dallas Stars by defeating Chicago Blackhawks 2-1
Goaltender, Kari Lehtonen became a household name by ensuring a successful NHL debut for the Dallas Stars coach Glen Gulutzan.
Lehtonen came in between 37 shots, while Alex Goligoski and Jamie Benn scored second-period goals to take the Stars for a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in the season opener on Friday night.
"He had a great performance," Gulutzan said about Lehtonen. "I thought he was the difference. ... Kari was our backbone tonight."
General Manager, Joe Nieuwendyk, who succeeded from the Stars' AHL affiliate Marc Crawford, awarded Gulutzan with a promotion over the summers. Crawford was fired at the end of last season after the Stars were omitted from the play-offs for a third consecutive season.
Lehtonen was at his best during the second period when he made a series of sliding saves as Chicago built a 22-12 shots advantage. The total was total pumped up by three power plays.
"All the penalties seemed to be (against) us," Lehtonen said. "It was a tough task there, but the penalty killing unit took most of the crazy chances away. It was a great battle. I was able to see the puck well tonight."
Lehtonen became then 11th hour Samaritan when he made a crucial save with 5 minutes left on the clock. Jamal Mayers came up with a short-handed attempt from the left circle. Lehtonen was under the spotlight again with 4 minutes left to the final whistle as Patrick Sharp came forth on a solo rush.
With goalie Corey Crawford on the bench in favor of a sixth attacker, it was Nick Leddy who scored from the left circle with 13.6 seconds to play as the Blackhawks avoided the shutout. Crawford also made an impressive performance by making 31 saves.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville admitted his team’s under par performance during the first part of the game. Quenneville stated that although his team revitalized later but their efforts were too little and too late.
"By then, it was too late," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. Both teams are scheduled to meet again on Saturday night in Chicago.
"It's not the way we wanted to start the season, obviously," Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said. "I think we made too many mistakes and gave up too many chances. We've got to play with a little more energy."