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Rask sick, Lehtonen gets starts for Finland versus Sweden

Feb 21, 2014, 6:26 AM EDT

Sochi Olympics Ice Hockey Men AP

So good in beating the Russians in the quarterfinals, Finnish goalie Tuukka Rask is unable to start today’s Olympic semifinal versus rival Sweden, apparently due to illness (flu).

In his place will be Dallas Stars netminder Kari Lehtonen. The 30-year-old has only made one start here in Sochi, stopping 20 of 21 shots in a 6-1 win over Norway in the preliminaries.

The good news for Finland is that Lehtonen came into the Olympics playing well. In his last three games for the Stars, he stopped 72 of 76 shots for a .947 save percentage.

The worrisome part is that Lehtonen, unlike Rask, has not started a big game in quite some time, and he’s never started a game of this magnitude. In his lengthy NHL career, he’s only appeared in two playoff games, both losses, back in 2007 for the Atlanta Thrashers. That same year he was named the best goalie in the World Championship, where he helped Finland to a silver.

San Jose’s Antti Niemi will back up Lehtonen.

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