After two postponements due to COVID-19 and winter storms, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Dallas Stars finally squared off on Saturday night. The result of this season’s first Stanley Cup Final rematch was a 5-0 Lightning drubbing. On Tuesday, the series shifted to Dallas and the result was a closer, lower scoring affair.
Slow start but Palat stays hot
After an early 3 on 1 scoring chance for the Stars, the Lightning turned the tables to open the scoring. Blake Comeau was sent to the penalty box for interference at 7:19 resulting in the game’s first power play. It only took 10 seconds for Tampa Bay to cash in. Ondrej Palat took a pass from Victor Hedman and buried a one-timer from the familiar Kucherov right circle spot. It was Palat’s 6th power play goal of the season. His increased offensive production has been a welcomed sight for the Lightning in Kucherov’s absence.
Pally loves to score first, huh? pic.twitter.com/pRofvVBQLP
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) March 3, 2021
Less than a minute later, Tampa Bay faced their first penalty kill thanks to a hooking call on Blake Coleman. The struggling Stars were unable to make anything happen with the man advantage, and the score remained 1-0. Dallas cranked up the energy after the failed power play and Vasilevskiy was called upon to stand tall. Overall, shots were 11-5 in favor of the Stars in the opening period. But thanks to outstanding goaltending, the score remained 1-0 going into the second period.
Momentum turns but Stars kill penalties
While the Lightning led on the scoreboard, they did not play their best hockey in the first period. Dallas came out playing just a step quicker and cleaner, and ended the period with the momentum. To start the second, Tampa Bay picked up the intensity and speed. The first half of the period was filled with big time saves from both goalies. A couple of goal posts were also relied upon to stop goals for each team.
The Lightning failed on 2 power play chances in the period. However, the momentum remained in their favor and they outshot Dallas 8-6. Perhaps the most interesting moment of the period came with a questionable official review. The Lightning appeared to clear a puck out of the defensive zone into the Stars bench. A play that is not normally subject to review resulted in quite lengthy one as the referees were determining if a delay of game was warranted. Ultimately, the ruling was inconclusive and no penalty was called.
Penalty kill and goaltending carry Bolts to victory
The Stars had an early shot at tying things up in the 3rd period as a Brayden Point hooking penalty gave them their second power play of the game. Vasilevskiy was virtually untested on this Dallas power play and the Lightning penalty killers held strong again.
The climax of the period came just minutes later when play was halted as Brayden Point dropped the gloves to take on Andrew Cogliano. A visibly angry Point took offense to an elbow thrown by Cogliano and took the Stars center down with ease. The play actually resulted in an extra 2 minute minor for the Lightning (go figure) due to a slash on Point. Once again, the Lightning penalty killers did their job marking their 17th consecutive killed penalty.
Tampa Bay got another shot with the man advantage when Nick Caamano drew blood on a high stick against Jan Rutta at 11:31. Chances by Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson, and Victor Hedman were denied by Dallas goalie Anton Khudobin as the Stars survived the shorthanded 4 minutes.
With time winding down and the Stars net empty, Yanni Gourde sealed the deal to claim a 2-0 victory for the Bolts. This was not one of those notable Andrei Vasilevskiy takeovers, but anytime you win a 1 goal game (minus the empty net goal) in a shutout, you can point to a handful of instances where the losing team could have tied things if not for an outstanding save. That was the case tonight. When tested, Vasilevskiy stood tall and answered the bell. He has now won 13 of his 17 starts and has stopped his last 91 shots.
Next up for the Lightning: The road trip continues to Chicago on Thursday night for a matchup with the Blackhawks.
- Andrei Vasilevskiy
- Victor Hedman
- Steven Stamkos
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