In what was essentially a must-win game, the Dallas Stars once again failed to deliver. Unable to find an answer for Andrei Vasilevskiy, the Stars fell 4-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning, putting them at 0-3-1 for their season-ending road trip thus far.
Lightning struck early with a Tyler Johnson goal just minutes into the game, although Tyler Seguin managed to even the score in the final seconds of the first period. The Stars continued to hold their own against Tampa Bay, but a couple of goals late in the period gave the Lightning a 3-1 lead heading into the third. Andrej Sekera halved the deficit, but Tampa Bay immediately answered back. A couple of empty netters within the final three minutes left sealed the deal.
With a loss in regulation, the Stars would have been eliminated from NHL playoff contention had the Nashville Predators beaten the Columbus Blue Jackets. But a late third period goal let Columbus squeak by with a 4-2 victory, delaying the inevitable for Dallas.
The two teams meet again for their final game of the season series this Friday, 6:00 PM CDT.
The Lightning wasted no time in getting on the scoreboard, with Tyler Johnson notching his first goal in over a month just over two minutes into the game. Not much later, the Stars would take one of their patented too-many-men penalties, putting Tampa Bay on the power play. But the Stars’ penalty kill was strong, allowing only a single shot on net.
The Stars proceeded to get a couple decent scoring chances, but they failed to capitalize. They would then get their own power play when Mikhail Sergachev went to the box for a check to the head on Jason Robertson, but a John Klingberg wrister off the post was the closest they got.
With four minutes remaining in the period, Blake Comeau was called for holding Alex Killorn, but the Lightning power play was shut down once more. The Stars then evened the score to finish the period, as Tyler Seguin scored his second goal in as many games within the final minute:
Score: Dallas 1, Tampa Bay 1
Shots: Dallas 6, Tampa Bay 4
While it was still relatively uneventful, the first half of the second period at least saw more scoring opportunities from both teams. The best chance was when Sergachev managed to draw Jake Oettinger out of his net, but he somehow failed to get the puck over to a teammate for the easy one-timer.
But pretty soon, it was back to a slog. Twelve minutes in, Denis Gurianov sent the puck over the glass, giving him a delay-of-game penalty. Yet Jake Oettinger wasn’t even tested, as the the Lightning power play was shut down yet again, not managing even a single shot on goal.
Things would pick up in the final minutes, although not to the Stars’ favor. Jamie Benn would then get a hi-sticking call against Yanni Gourde, giving Tampa Bay another power play. This time, they managed to overwhelm the Stars, with Killorn getting a one-timer in put Tampa Bay back in the lead.
Then, with just 14 seconds remaining, Brayden Point did Brayden Point things, effortlessly stealing the puck from Esa Lindell and immediately backhanding it past Oettinger. That would be it for the period, and Dallas headed to the locker room without any momentum.
Score: Dallas 1, Tampa Bay 3
Shots: Dallas 10, Tampa Bay 13
Dallas would have an early chance to cut their deficit in half when Sergachev got called for hi-sticking Denis Gurianov. A Joe Pavelski tip managed to hit the post almost immediately, but the power play didn’t amount to much after that. Later, Gourde had a breakaway opportunity, but he failed to get it past Oettinger and extend the Lightning’s lead.
The Stars answered with a couple good scoring chances, but Andrei Vasilveskiy denied them each time. With only half a period left to play, all hope seemed lost until Andrei Sekera of all players somehow scored from the near blue line:
There wouldn’t be much time for celebration, however. Fifty seconds of game time and a commercial break were all that separated Sekera’s goal from a similar one by Erik Cernak. With three minutes left, Oettinger came off the ice to give Dallas the extra attacker, but Ross Colton immediately scored. Dallas put out the extra attacker once more, but Sergachev squashed even the most far-fetched hopes of a comeback.
Final Score: Dallas 2, Tampa Bay 6
Final Shots: Dallas 22, Tampa Bay 20