Time: 8:30 pm Eastern Time
Location: American Airlines Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: Fox SUN
Opponent SBNation Site: Defending Big D
The Dallas Stars are still struggling to get their first win against the Tampa Bay Lightning since the fifth game of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final. They were very close to victory in the last game on Tuesday, however Andrei Vasilevskiy’s record-setting performance and the second period Lightning’s comeback left them with the fourth consecutive loss this season.
Before the start of the season many fans welcomed with enthusiasm the fact that the Stars joined the Lightning in the same division, expecting an eight-game long Stanley Cup Final rematch. In reality things went in the opposite direction as the Lightning have clearly been a much better team. The Lightning have outscored their opponent 13-4 and haven't allowed a single goal at 5-on-5 – a very impressive achievement against any team.
The Stars had a very hot start of the season, winning their first four games of the season, however their pace quickly slowed down and they earned just one win in the next nine games. The team is not looking bad statistically: they’re seventh in league in Corsi-For and the third in xGF% (the Lightning are four positions below). Their special units are pretty average – the power play unit sitting at the 13th position, while penalty kill is at the 18th position after half of the season. Their advanced stats however don't really correspond with actual results, as the team is sitting at the seventh place in the division in total points, although if we are looking at point percentage, the Stars occupy the last playoff spot in the Central Division.
Besides Tyler Seguin and Ben Bishop, who haven’t played a single game for the Stars this season, the team can't rely on Radek Faksa, Joel Kiviranta and Alex Radulov to stay healthy. Alex Radulov’s absence is probably the most significant loss, he has been arguably the best Dallas player this season, but he has been dealing with injuries the whole season and appeared in just 11 games.
After a week of being scratched, Alex Volkov returned to the line-up on Tuesday night. During his absence Ross Colton did a great job, scoring three points in four games and making it very clear about his ambitions to become a regular player. Volkov played just 9:34 on Tuesday and the line with Pat Maroon and Mathieu Joseph was the worst on the ice that night – all three players finished the game with CF% lower than 30 percent. In the game, which was given to Volkov probably as his last chance before getting traded to the Anaheim Ducks, he was mostly invisible – just like the whole season with couple of exceptions – proving Julien BriseBois’ point to trade him. With Volkov being traded to another team, Ross Colton will probably slide back into the roster. This also could be an indication that Mitchell Stephens is close to return.
Pat Maroon said Ross Colton has done an "excellent job" of being a pro, has a great personality inside the locker room and is a fun-loving guy enjoying his NHL time. "I’m really proud of Ross, especially how he handles himself around the rink. He’s a good kid. People love him."— Bryan Burns (@BBurnsNHL) March 24, 2021
Still no information on Ryan McDonagh’s condition, the Lightning defenseman couldn’t finish the game against the Florida Panthers on Sunday’s evening due to a lower-body injury and missed the last game against the Stars on Tuesday. As the Lightning announced earlier, the team is still hoping to have him back in the lineup during this three-game road trip, which ends on Saturday in Raleigh. With McDonagh out of the lineup, Andreas Borgman made his second appearance for the team this season. He played around 14 minutes mostly with Cal Foote on third line, recording 57.14 CF% and 69.41 xGF% – very solid numbers for a player without regular playing experience.
Tampa Bay Lightning Lines
Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Anthony Cirelli
Alex Killorn - Yanni Gourde - Steven Stamkos
Barclay Goodrow - Tyler Johnson - Blake Coleman
Pat Maroon - Ross Colton - Mathieu Joseph
Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta
Mikhail Sergachev - Erik Cernak
Andreas Borgman - Cal Foote
Jamie Benn - Joe Pavelski - Ty Dellandrea
Jason Robertson - Roope Hintz - Denis Gurianov
Andrew Cogliano - Jason Dickinson - Blake Comeau
Tanner Kero - Radek Faska - Joel L’Esperance
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Jamie Oleksiak - Miro Heiskanen
Joel Hanley - Andrej Sekera