The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Dallas Stars 3-1 on Saturday night extending their win streak to three games. Brayden Point, Ross Colton, and Alex Killorn scored for the Lightning while Esa Lindell recorded the lone goal for the Stars. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 19 of 20 shots. Anton Khudobin stopped 26 of 28 shots in his first start (second appearance) since being recalled from the AHL.
Overall, this was a very strong game from the Lightning even though there were hair-raising moments that elevated everyone’s heart rate. From an analytical perspective, though, this was never a close game. Tampa Bay controlled possession throughout the game, dominating shot attempts 42-27 (60.87 percent). The Lightning also won the quality battle with an expected goals rate of 59.65 percent.
There were spurts of control from Dallas this evening, but it wasn’t as impactful as it could’ve been because of, well you know, Vasilevskiy. However, one of those early runs of play helped the Stars gain the lead.
Tampa Bay managed the rest of the period well and eventually was rewarded late in the period as Brayden Point scored on the power-play.
Find a more perfect hockey player than Brayden Point—I dare you.
The second period saw both goaltenders stare down some dangerous shots, but it was Khudobin who kept the Stars tied as he was shelled for the entire period. The Lightning out-attempted Dallas 18 to 6 (75 percent) and generated an expected goals rate of 81.19 percent.
The Lightning continued this shelling into the third period until they finally broke through off a gorgeous Colton goal thanks to a beautifully threaded pass from Nikita Kucherov.
When someone asks why the Lightning are far more dangerous with Kucherov back in the lineup just show them this insane pass. There are only a handful of players who can do what he did to spring Colton free for the game-winning goal and it’s why he’s the team’s most impactful forward every night.
Dallas began opening the ice more to generate offense after Colton’s goal and there were plenty of shifts that saw Vasilevskiy make incredible saves to keep the Lightning in the lead. There were odd-man rushes, uncontested royal road passes, wonky deflections, and constant pressure for the Stars—yet, every time, there was Vasilevskiy thwarting each and every attempt.
The Stars eventually pulled Khudobin for an extra attacker with a little over a minute left in regulation, but it did little to help as the Lightning defense kept Dallas at bay before Killorn sealed the win with an insurance goal.
Tampa Bay’s winning streak is a welcome sight after getting shellacked by the Boston Bruins last Saturday and, once again, shows how resilient this team is after a poor showing. Sure, Buffalo, Vancouver, and Dallas aren’t the best teams in the league, but Tampa Bay doesn’t decide who they get to schedule. Their job is to go out and win as many games as possible and prepare for the playoffs.
Besides, being tied for first place in the league is never a bad spot to be in.