The stakes tonight for the Dallas Stars in Game 4 against the Tampa Bay Lightning were not do-or-die, which is great because the Dallas Stars didn’t play like it. Down 2-1 in the series at the start of the game, the Stars did a lot of what they’ve been doing the entire playoffs, depending on their goaltending and actually functional defense to bail them out of their offensive woes.
Unfortunately for the Stars, their defense has started looking a lot more human recently, and though they managed to score four goals tonight, they still need to have at least one more than the Lightning.
Also, don’t try to pay attention to lines in this one. As is right and proper, Stars interim head coach Rick Bowness stuck them in a blender and just never turned the blender off. He actually hid the lines in practice to be able to do this, and the NBC graphic for the lines was completely wrong for this reason.
Jason Dickinson took a blocked shot to the leg and went down early in this period, but was back on the bench almost immediately with a smile on his face and played the rest of the period.
The Stars were wildly outshot during this first period. Their first shot on goal didn’t come until 7:17 into the period, and it ended up being their first goal as well. Alex Killorn chipped the puck out of the Lightning’s zone. John Klingberg carried the puck back in. Jan Rutta and Victor Hedman were shoulder-to-shoulder in front of Andrei Vasilevskiy. Klingberg shot in between them, but this was blocked. He followed the puck around the side of Hedman and found the back of the net.
The goal was unassisted and honestly, should not have actually worked.
The seemingly uneven calls by the officials continued tonight. Statistics show that all refereeing eventually regresses to a mean, but that’s generally on a larger sample size than a (at most) seven-game series. Tonight’s grievances began with Jamie Oleksiak on a holding call, but the Stars killed that penalty.
Jamie Benn was in full wrecking ball mode, which meant some big ice time for him in the first period.
Captain ain't messing around pic.twitter.com/MnnGjhugJt— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) September 26, 2020
And which culminated in a really beautiful saucer pass to Joe Pavelski on the Stars’ third shot of the game.
The Stars had a difficult time with finding a resolution to the Brayden Point line. Point is just mind-bogglingly fast. Ondrej Palat found Point on the other side of Jason Dickinson toward the Stars’ net. Point was already ahead and Dickinson put pressure on him, but couldn’t catch him.
With 30 seconds left in the period, the Stars were not able to swing any momentum back their way, if they’d even had it at all.
Shots: Tampa Bay 8, Dallas 3
Score: Tampa Bay 1, Dallas 2
A little over a minute into the second period, Jamie Oleksiak took another penalty, this time a tripping against Erik Cernak. There’s only so many times you can give the Lightning a man-advantage before they take advantage of it, and in this game that was one time, because they definitely scored on this opportunity.
And it was Brayden Point again.
Killorn, from behind the net, tried to get the puck back out in front and it bounced off of Andrej Sekera’s stick and Point batted it into the net behind Khudobin. Hard for Khudobin to play baseball when he should be playing hockey.
Roope Hintz was taken down hard by Tyler Johnson and straight into the boards. He went down the tunnel and did not return to the game.
Tyler Seguin got the puck off a pass from Mattias Janmark and rushed the net with two Lightning players on his heels. He couldn’t get the puck off until he was past the net, but it looked like he was trying to bounce it off Vasilevskiy and into the net. He didn’t manage it, but with the net clear, Corey Perry was there to clean up the rebound.
Cernak was called for a penalty, but the Stars were not able to get a shot off on that power play. Then Andrew Cogliano took a hooking penalty against Hedman.
Yanni Gourde was the recipient of a very lucky bounce off of Esa Lindell blocking a shot with his skate from Nikita Kucherov. The puck went straight from Lindell’s skate blade to Gourde, who got the puck behind Khudobin.
Yanni Gourde PP— Here's Your Replay ⬇️ (@TheReplayGuy) September 26, 2020
Shots: Tampa Bay 15, Dallas 14
Score: Tampa Bay 3, Dallas 3
Joel Kiviranta got this close to the go-ahead goal about six minutes in:
But instead, Killorn threw the puck on net without even really looking it. Khudobin was flat on the ice and didn’t have it at all. The puck went bar-down over his shoulder. Two things are true at once: the Stars wouldn’t be in the final without Khudobin’s play in the first three rounds and whatever streak he was on seems to most likely be over.
So the Lightning had their first lead of the game about midway through the third.
Pat Maroon took a holding penalty that he seemed to be very upset about, despite it being a textbook case of holding, but he really didn’t need to expend that much emotion about it, because again, the Stars did not get a shot on net.
With a little over eight minutes to go in the third, Pavelski potted his second goal of the night. It was originally credited to Tyler Seguin (who did get another assist), but it actually bounced in off Kevin Shattenkirk’s thigh.
Tyler Seguin— Here's Your Replay ⬇️ (@TheReplayGuy) September 26, 2020
In true “reffing regresses to a mean” fashion, the Stars got away with a few penalties, but then so did the Lightning. Also, at one point, the puck ended up in someone’s pants. Either way, no one else scored in third.
Perry took an interference penalty against Point, who was called for embellishment, in what may or may not have been a weak makeup call. Either way, the 4-on-4 time extended into overtime.
To overtime we go.
Shots: Tampa Bay 32, Dallas 28
Score: Tampa Bay 4, Dallas 4
Thirty-seven seconds into overtime, Seguin took the puck into the Lightning zone and then Mikhail Sergachev committed a holding penalty against him. The Stars then had a 4-on-3 power play.
Unfortunately, the Stars’ power play continues to not be... powerful.
Then Benn took a penalty for tripping when it’s clear from the replay that he did not trip Johnson. Unfortunately, not something you can challenge in hockey at this time.
The Lightning ended up winning the game on the power play from that terrible call when Shattenkirk found the back of the net. The Lightning could win the whole thing tomorrow in Game 5.
Final Shots: Tampa Bay 35, Dallas 30
Final Score: Tampa Bay 5, Dallas 4
Game 5 will begin at 7 p.m. CT tomorrow, Saturday, September 26th.