02 December 2007

Lehtonen posts 4-0 shutout (Oh yeah, there's pics!)

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP & AJC) -Kari Lehtonen couldn't have scripted a sweeter comeback. [Watch highlights]

Lehtonen, who had been sidelined by a groin injury, turned aside 33 shots in his first NHL appearance in six weeks, and Ilya Kovalchuk had a goal and assist in the Atlanta Thrashers' 4-0 win against the New York Islanders on Saturday night.

"I don't think you can ask for anything better than what happened to Kari," Atlanta coach Don Waddell said. "He was on top of his game."

Lehtonen, who got his first shutout this season and eighth in his career, lost his first four decisions before being placed on injured reserve. He missed 16 games, dating to Oct. 18, before being recalled from AHL Chicago earlier Saturday.

"It's nice to be back," Lehtonen said, "and it's nice to see everybody play well. There's a huge difference between tonight and six weeks ago."

"[Lehtonen] gave us so much confidence," Kovalchuk said. "When you know you can make a mistake and take a risk, that's where confidence comes from."

Lehtonen finished with 33 saves in recording his first shutout since Nov. 30 of last season. It was also his first win since April 7 against Tampa Bay in the regular-season finale. He was winless in two playoff starts.

He smiled when asked if it felt like a long time between wins.

"It feels like a very long time ago," he said. "It's a new beginning for me. Hopefully I can get things going."

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