With Wednesday’s win over the New York Islanders, Dallas Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen has won his 300th career NHL game.
On Tuesday night, Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward became one of the most unlikely goaltenders to reach the 300 win plateau. That’s a distinction he might have only held for 24 hours, as Dallas Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen has picked up his 300th win. He did so thanks to the Stars beating the New York Islanders on Wednesday night.
Lehtonen’s pathway to 300 wins hasn’t been straight. It’s been long, crooked, and even looping at times. In 13 seasons, he has only been in the playoffs thrice. Lehtonen has appeared in just 19 postseason games, starting 16. Lehtonen is the only goaltender to take the Atlanta Thrashers (now Winnipeg Jets) to the playoffs. Ondrej Pavelec is the only other goalie in franchise history to take the team to the postseason.
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He’s one of the only two netminders in the new Jets’ franchise history to reach 200 appearances with the team. With one more appearance, Lehtonen will have 421, placing him alone in second place in appearances for a goalie in Stars’ franchise history. If you stick around with a team that long as a goalie, you’re doing something right.
With Lehtonen’s appearance against the Islanders, he now ranks first in games played for Finnish goaltenders, topping Miikka Kiprusoff. His 300 wins are second among goaltenders from Finland, trailing only Kiprusoff. Lehtonen is the active leader for Finnish netminders in wins, though Pekka Rinne isn’t far behind him with 285 entering Wednesday.
His best season came in 2013-14 when he finished eighth place in the Vezina Trophy voting. During that season, Lehtonen led the league in appearances with 65 and starts with 64 while posting a .919 save percentage. His highest single-season save percentage (.922) came in 2011-12.
Lehtonen has proven to be quite durable, making over 65 appearances four times in his career. Twice in his career, he’s made 59 appearances. Lehtonen is the third fourth goaltenders in Stars’ franchise history to reach 300 wins, joining Andy Moog and Hall of Famers Gump Worsley (with the Minnesota North Stars) and Ed Belfour.