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Hitting the Road

by Dallas Stars Staff / Dallas Stars

The Stars practiced on Friday morning and a good chunk of it was spent talking as a group and getting back on the same page. The time to turn things around is now, with a big three-game trip that starts in Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon.

Head coach Marc Crawford is stressing to his club that the ability to execute is the key to getting back to playing winning hockey.

“I’m not saying there hasn’t been good attention, and good work (in games), but we’ve been off on our execution,” he said. “And when you get off on your execution, then everything falls apart a little bit. We’ve just tried to concentrate on two things: On work, and on simplicity in our play.”

The Stars would love to have the last two games back. Getting outscored, 11-2, is not the way the team wanted to start the post-Olympic Break. But there is nothing they can do about those games. All they can focus on is the Pittsburgh Penguins and the games that remain.

“We haven’t got the ability to say, ‘Boy, we were really good before the break,’” Crawford said. “It’s what we have right now, and we’re dealing with what we have right now. The present is really present for us. You’ve got to learn from those mistakes, like we said the other night. You can spend about 10 minutes worrying about the performance and you’ve got to move forward. We’ve got a huge task that we’ve got to put all our energies toward.”

Goaltender Kari Lehtonen relieved Marty Turco in the second period Thursday vs. St. Louis, making his Stars debut since being acquired from the Atlanta Thrashers on February 9. He played 38:10 of the game, stopping 14-of-16 shots. Crawford planned on starting Lehtonen at Pittsburgh and that has not changed.

“Yes, we are going to start Kari in the game (against Pittsburgh),” Crawford said. “The good thing about last night was that he got to have about 35 minutes of quality start, and see the subtleties of all the attention that the goalie has to have during a penalty kill. You can’t simulate that the way that game action does. The fatigue that sets in when you have the battle in the goal mouth for 30 or 40 seconds, that’s really hard, anaerobically for a goalie, so for him to get that intensity was certainly good and I know he’s looking forward to his start.”

Dallas will also visit Washington (Monday) and Buffalo (Wednesday) before returning home for a season-long six-game home stand that begins next Friday.

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