Despite surrendering two goals in just over two minutes at the end of the game, the Tampa Bay Lightning rebounded to defeat the Dallas Stars in a shootout, 4-3. Brayden Point, Mathieu Joseph, and Steven Stamkos scored for the Lightning while Miro Heiskanen, Jamie Benn, and Alexander Radulov tallied for the Stars. In the shootout, Ross Colton and Brayden Point scored for Tampa Bay while Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped Joe Pavelski and Radulov after Jason Robertson had scored.
The Lightning had one line-up change with Ross Colton cycling back into the fourth-line duty. On to the game!
It was Radulov with the first real solid chance. Ryan McDonagh tried to fire the puck out of the zone and….whiffed. Sometimes the puck doesn’t want to leave the zone. Radulov pounced and charged at the net. McDonagh recovered enough to disrupt him slightly while Vasilevskiy did the rest, as he has done against the Stars all season.
After a couple of decent shifts for the Stars, Tampa started to push the play and fire some pucks on net. They seemed determined to make sure their start was better than Monday’s effort against Nashville and it was one of their stars that provided the early lead.
Brayden Point saw a seam in the Dallas defense and ran a nice post route. Ondrej Palat read the play perfectly and hit his buddy in stride, putting the pass right on the tape. Point did the rest, as he never slowed down, made one deke and slid the puck between Jake Oettinger’s pads with just enough juice to have it trickle, ever so gently, over the goal line.
Brayden Point (Ondrej Palat, Anthony Cirelli)
The Lightning had the space in the offensive zone to work their high/low game and the defensemen didn’t hesitate to shoot the puck, and they were getting it on net. The entire team worked along the boards to maintain or win back the puck. Pat Maroon dispossessed the Stars’ defense on one such occasion and fed the puck to Ross Colton who snapped a shot on net that Oettinger snagged with his glove.
After a prolonged stretch of time spent in their own zone it was Radulov who made the most out of a little when he shot a pass over to the eternal Joe Pavalski. The veteran got a quick shot on net, but once again Vasilevskiy was there to stop it.
The entire Lightning team seemed to have an attack-first mindset. Twelve different players registered a shot on net in the period. Even the youngsters. Cal Foote had his second great opportunity of the period with about four minutes left in the period as he led the rush down the ice. He had a partial two-on-one but elected to shoot, and Oettinger was forced to blocker it into the crowd.
Should the period have ended with a score greater than 1-0? Quite frankly, yes it should have. Look, on a game-by-game basis you can take or leave some of the analytic stats, but the story of the first period was pure domination by the Lightning. The Bolts controlled the shot attempts (25-10), scoring chances (13-4), really, really good scoring chances (7-2) and wrapped things up with an expected goal share of 80.99%. As Rob Zettler told the TV folks in the intermission, it was one of the best periods of the year for the Lightning, but thanks to Jake Oettinger, the lead was only a single goal, the slimmest of leads.
It can be frustrating to dominate a period like that and only have a one-goal lead. Staying out of the penalty box would have been keep the pressure on, but the refs aren’t always in on the game plan.
Ondrej Palat tried to make a nice hip check at the Lightning blueline. If he had pulled it off, it would have been sweet. The problem, the person he tried to hit didn’t actually have the puck. That is interference, and a power play for the Stars. Radulov seemed to have a great chance on the advantage, but Victor Hedman tied him up and knocked the puck away before the Stars’ forward could get the shot on net.
Dallas returned the favor shortly after by….doing something that the refs didn’t agree with. Officially it was a delay of game, and it seemed that Dallas was a little slow getting to the face-off dot following an icing. The Lightning had chances, unfortunately they did not have any goals following the two minutes. The Stars had a golden chance as Nick Caamano was free and clear with the puck after leaving the penalty box. Alas, he needed the net to be raised about two feet for his shot to be good.
After a first period that was fantastically penalty-free, the first half of the second period was chock-full of infractions. Cal Foote spent his time in the box for hooking Radulov. If you give the Stars enough chances and they will eventually score. Miro Heiskanen was the lucky recipient of a puck that bounced off some pads and a stick. The defenseman was able to tap it into the net on the rebound. Tie game.
Miro Heiskanen (Joe Pavelski, Jason Robertson)
After 206:54 worth of ice time, the Dallas Stars finally scored against Andrei Vasilevskiy. Yes, that includes games from the Stanley Cup Final. All of that dominant play from the first period? Gone, like my youth. Dallas seemed buoyed by the goal and put together some strong shifts at even strength.
The Lightning needed a line to spend a little time in the Dallas zone. That line was the fourth line. Colton and Maroon won a battle behind the Stars’ net and the Big Rig fed the puck to Mathieu Joseph in the slot. Joseph, who had whiffed on a golden opportunity in the last game, absolutely smoked his one-timer past Oettinger to restore the Lightning lead.
Mathieu Joseph (Pat Maroon, Ross Colton)
Cal Foote read the play really well and pinched in to keep the puck in the zone. He also knew he was going to get hit, and didn’t hesitate to dump it down low and take the check. With his increased playing time lately, his confidence is growing. Foote’s instincts are one of his best assets and it’s good to see him using them at this level.
The early penalties seemed to get the Lightning out of their flow a bit, and Dallas had a really good surge after their goal, but Tampa Bay recovered and finished strong. It was a much lower-event period at even strength and Dallas ended up with the slightly better numbers. Still, the Bolts went into the dressing room with the lead.
So, the final frame had some nice back-and-forth play, but neither team really doing anything to elicit much excitement, at least for the first fifteen minutes. The Stars did get another power play opportunity seven minutes into the period when the Lightning tried to pull the ol’ “six skaters and a goalie” play, but the refs counted to six and called them for the penalty. There was a lot of passing around, but the one solid shot they had from John Klingberg was easily knocked away by Vasilevskiy.
As they did back in the second period, Dallas quickly returned the favor as Pavelski whacked Colton in the face with his stick. Gotta love some southern hospitality. Steven Stamkos certainly enjoyed it. After the top unit spent pretty much the entire power play in the Dallas zone, Hedman worked the puck over to Stamkos in his favorite spot and Stammer unleashed a furious slapshot that Oettinger had no chance to stop.
Steven Stamkos (Victor Hedman, Brayden Point)
Congratulations to Hedman as he became the first defenseman in Lightning history to record 500 points in his career with the franchise.
Give the Stars credit for not rolling over like a dead armadillo on the side of the road. They pulled the goalie and spent some time in the Lightning zone. Jamie Benn took advantage of a bad read by Erik Cernak to cut the lead to one.
Jamie Benn (Miro Heiskanen, Joe Pavelski)
Erik Cernak anticipated the puck going behind the net and left Benn all alone in front of the net. When the puck came out front (credit to Heiskanen for making a no-look, back-hand pass), there was no one left to defend the veteran forward and he put it past Vasilevskiy.
One goal lead. Two minutes to go. No problem right? Wrong.
Alex Radulov (Jamie Benn, Jason Robertson)
McDonagh made a nice play, he really did. There was just a bad result. His poke check sent the puck off of Radulov’s leg, then a skate and past Vasilevskiy. From 3-1 to 3-3 just like that. That’s not great. The Lightning have been really good protecting leads at the end of games this season, so seeing them surrender two goals in the final two-plus minutes was a bit disorienting.
Both teams had some nice cycles with the puck and played with really nice pace. This is how the NHL wished all teams approached overtime. The Lightning almost ended it when Blake Coleman’s shot kicked out to Tyler Johnson. TJ chipped it just wide of the far post. Hedman sent one just wide as well. Sergachev had one last chance at the buzzer, but Oettinger made the save.
Jason Robertson - Goal
Ross Colton - Goal!
Joe Pavelski - Save
Brayden Point - Goal!
Alex Radulov - Save