If you were to only look at the box score for the Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning game — 1-0 in favor of Dallas — you might assume it was another boring, low-offense game in which the Stars turtled their way to victory.
You could not be more wrong.
Sure, the Stars’ power play was pretty lackluster (as usual), but Luke Glendening and the Stars’ penalty kill made up for it with several scoring chances of their own. At even strength, the Stars put consistent pressure on Tampa Bay throughout all three periods, a rarity for a team that tends to play flat in at least one each night.
The only reason the Stars didn’t score for the first fifty five minutes was because Andrei Vasilevskiy was incredible in net. And the only reason that sole Roope Hintz goal was enough was because Scott Wedgewood was even better — the Stars’ backup goaltender improved to 3-0-1 in Victory Green, making big saves all the way up to the final buzzer.
The win keeps Dallas within one point of the Nashville Predators for the first Wild Card spot, who also won 1-0 tonight. Perhaps more importantly, it makes them tied with the Los Angeles Kings with two games in hand — overtaking them completely will prevent the Vegas Golden Knights from possibly bumping Dallas out of a playoff spot.
Dallas will look to build off of this strong game on Thursday when they take on the Minnesota Wild. Puck drops at 7:00 PM CT.
After a few minutes of little action, Dallas went on the first power play of the evening when Alex Killorn went to the box for tripping Joe Pavelski. As a pleasant surprise, the Stars actually looked quite dangerous with the man advantage, starting with a couple of shots from Tyler Seguin up front. But, not wanting to deter from tradition, the Stars failed to score across the two minutes.
The penalty would be a sign of things to come for the first period — a couple minutes later, Jamie Benn and Nicholas Paul fought, sending them both to the box. About three and a half minutes after that, Vladislav took a hooking penalty against Anthony Cirelli, giving Tampa Bay their first power play. The Lightning got a few quality shots on net, but Scott Wedgewood stood tall.
Seguin and Denis Gurianov got a couple decent looks as time wound down, and with less than a minute left Braden Point went to the box for tripping Roope Hintz. Dallas didn’t get a shot on net with the time remaining, however, and would head to the locker room still tied at zero.
Score: Dallas 0, Tampa Bay 0
Shots: Dallas 7, Tampa Bay 7
True to form, Dallas didn’t do anything with the rest of their power play time either. Both teams would spend the next several minutes trading scoring chances until Esa Lindell cross-checked Cirelli about eight minutes in. At that point, it looked like Dallas had the man advantage, with Luke Glendening getting three scoring opportunities on Andrei Vasilevskiy.
That gave Dallas some momentum, who spent the next few minutes primarily in the offensive zone. Seguin had a pseudo-breakaway at one point, but Vasilevskiy poke checked the puck away. Then, after a commercial break, Miro Heiskanen activated a trio of scoring chances, each of which were stopped by the Lightning netminder.
With three minutes left, however, Lindell went back to the sin bin for high sticking Steven Stamkos. But after Wedgewood made a Herculean save, the Stars kept Tampa Bay more or less out of the offensive zone, and Glendening even got another shorthanded shot on net for good measure.
Benn had a decent chance in the final minute, but the game remained scoreless through two.
Score: Dallas 0, Tampa Bay 0
Shots: Dallas 19, Tampa Bay 13
Not even thirty seconds into the third, Mikhail Sergachev was caught tripping Benn, putting Dallas back on the power play. Needless, to say, the Stars didn’t amount to anything, although their sole shot on net was a decent scoring opportunity.
Things were relatively quiet after that, though more so for the Lightning than Dallas. Glendening forced a turnover and got a breakaway (this time at even strength!), but Vasilevskiy kept him off the scoreboard yet again. Soon after, Wedgewood robbed Ondrej Palat on the other end of the ice, keeping things scoreless.
That seemed to light a spark, as Wedgewood soon made another solid save, leading into a rush attempt in which Roope Hintz nearly scored after some pinball action. That pattern of alternating scoring chances continued, and at one point Tampa Bay spent a solid minute or two in the offensive zone.
But then the tables flipped, and the Stars’ top line got to set up shop on the other end. And then, finally, Hintz broke the dam:
Tampa continued to put pressure on Wedgewood, pulling Vasilevskiy with two minutes left. Glendening somehow overskated a loose puck, failing to score on the empty net, but the Wedgewood and the Stars’ defense did not buckle, securing the regulation win.
Final Score: Dallas 1, Tampa Bay 0
Final Shots: Dallas 29, Tampa Bay 24