TAMPA BAY, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – Thursday night’s game presented another solid effort that had an unfortunate ending for the Lightning at Amalie Arena. Coach Cooper made an agreeable comment in the post-game press conference, “we should have won that game.”
The Dallas Stars opened up the first period appearing to control the game, scoring first less than 6 minutes into the period on a power play that shifted shortly after the goal. Apparently Vasilevskiy didn’t like the feel of that, which motivated him to make some strong saves moving forward. Afterward, the whole team kicked things into another gear.
Roughly 8 minutes after the Stars goal, the Bolts got a power play due to a hooking call. Sergachev hit a slap shot on goal, tying up the game and creating momentum amongst the team. A few minutes after, Dallas had a miscommunication and too many players on the ice, serving up another power play to Tampa Bay. An electric connection sparked as Hedman set up Kucherov and Kucherov passed it in to Killorn for a goal and a 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission.
The Bolts are a largely skilled team with a very talented lineup and they hit the ice in the second period showing just that. Their offensive zone time was impressive, they were creating passing lanes that cause confusion amongst the Stars. Centre Tyler Seguin even said that the way the Bolts were playing caused them to misread and play too far back. The Bolts’ defensive men were setting up perimeters that gave them time to structure plays to execute. 3:52 seconds into the period, Sergachev took another shot on goal that deflects off of Palat to take Tampa to a 2-point lead. It wasn’t until 2:03 left in the second period that Dallas found a small gap, creating an opportunity to score and minimize the Bolts lead to one point.
The third period is where the unfortunate series of events began to unfold. Tampa came out continuing to control the game with double the amount of shots on goal than the Stars, but they were unable to get that much-needed extra goal. Granted, Stars goalie Khudobin is one of the highest ranked goalies in the league right now sitting at a .927 percentage and only allowing 2.29 goals per game. As Khudobin kept Dallas in the game, Dickenson landed a goal with under five minutes left to play in regulation that sent this game into overtime (the Bolts’ second overtime game this week).
The Lightning’s Anthony Cirelli had a speedy breakaway scoring the overtime goal in Tuesday’s game versus the Senators. Cirelli nearly had another moment to capitalize on, but the Stars managed to defend. Back and forth both teams went until 3 minutes in when Seguin created space to charge up the ice, putting him in a one on one with Vasilevskiy that he won, hitting the top right corner on the goal, making the final score 4-3.
Tampa’s walking a fine line for playoffs. The potential is there, the play is there, but the execution has been hard to pin down. There is still time, if the Bolts can withstand the next few match-ups. The Lightning head to our nation’s Capital for a rematch with the Capitals Saturday.
Kasey Hudson is the Sports Associate Editor for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org