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Point and Killorn lead Lightning past Stars, now tied for second in Central

Alex Killorn is having the best season of his career, but will he get to continue it into a playoff series?
Alex Walworth | The Scrum Sports

Coming off a 2-1 win in Detroit, the Tampa Bay Lightning found themselves just two points behind the Florida Panthers for second place in the top-heavy Central Division with the Dallas Stars arriving in town for an important contest at Amalie Arena.

Facing a desperate Stars team in a fight for the last playoff spot in the Central, the Lightning received contributions from everyone en route to a crucial win for playoff seeding.

Six different Lightning players found the back of the net and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 20 of 22 shots as Tampa Bay (36-14-3, 75 points) bested Dallas (21-18-14, 56 points) by a 6-2 score at Amalie Arena. With the win, Tampa Bay and Florida now sit tied for second place in the Central. Thanks to a 6-0-1 record in their last seven, the Bolts are making the race for the top spot in the Central Division a tight one. Both Tampa Bay and Florida each sit four points behind the Carolina Hurricanes for first place. Carolina and the Lightning each hold a game in hand over the Panthers.

This contest ended up being a rather odd one in terms of shot attempts and shots on goal. The Lightning ended up being out-shot 22-20, but put up 52 shot attempts compared to 36 for the Stars. Tyler Seguin, in his second game back after missing much of the season due to hip surgery, scored his second goal, while Andrej Sekera added one for the Stars. Jake Oettinger took the loss for Dallas, allowing four goals on 18 shots, with two of Tampa Bay’s tallies coming on late empty-net goals.

An early goal and a late goal leads to a first period stalemate

It took the Lightning just 2:14 to strike first, with Johnson scoring a much-needed goal. After Alex Killorn jumped on a turnover in the neutral zone, he led a rush up the ice. Attempting to work a pass to Anthony Cirelli, the puck bounced off the skate of Jamie Oleksiak and rolled to Johnson in the slot. Johnson made no mistake in whipping a shot past Oettinger for his eighth of the season. The goal ended a 21-game goal drought for Johnson, as his previous goal occurred on March 21st against Florida.

During the opening 20 minutes, the Lightning held a 14-11 advantage in shot attempts, but the Stars held the advantage in shots on goal at 6-4. Despite the low total of shots on goal, the Lightning controlled 5-on-5 play for much of the period, yet came up empty on two power play chances.

Before tying the game late in the period, one of Dallas’s best scoring opportunities came on their first power play when John Klingberg fired one off the post. The Stars finally dented the scoreboard with 26.2 seconds left on the clock thanks to Seguin. Joe Pavelski threaded a beautiful backdoor pass to Seguin between Victor Hedman and Erik Cernak, leading to Seguin’s goal and a 1-1 score going into the first intermission.

A slow-moving second period picks up thanks to Killorn and Point

A fairly low-event opening period gave way to a rather uneventful 15-minute portion of the second period, as neither team generated much in the way of quality scoring chances at 5-on-5, although the Lightning began picking up their paly halfway through the period. Tampa Bay earned another two power play opportunities, one of them highlighted by two monster one-timers by Ondrej Palat getting blocked by Sekera. Sekera skated to the bench in pain, but stayed in the game.

However, Killorn cashed in on the Lightning’s fourth power play of the night, completing a gorgeous passing sequence. Brayden Point found Yanni Gourde in the right circle, who almost immediately dished it to Killorn on the doorstep. From there, Killorn tapped it in for his 15th of the season at the 16:39 mark for a 2-1 Bolts lead and making some Lighting history in the process.

Point delivered an exclamation point with 13.8 seconds left in the period for a 3-1 lead. Applying pressure on a forecheck, he stole the puck from Esa Lindell, skated to the front of the net, worked to his backhand, and scored his 23rd of the season on an absolute gem of a play.

Dallas narrows the gap, but Tampa Bay extends lead, making the Central Division race even more interesting

After being out-shot 13-10 through two periods, the Stars began tilting the ice in their favor in the third period, creating a few high-quality chances, and regaining the advantage in shots on goal. They were rewarded for their efforts at the 10:44 mark of the final period when Sekera blasted a one-timer from the right point. The shot bounced off the leg of Point and changed direction just enough to fool Vasilevskiy and hit the back of the net, cutting the Bolts’ lead to 3-2.

Despite surrending Sekera’s tally, the Lightning only needed 50 seconds to regain the two-goal advantage. Blake Coleman kept a clearing attempt in the zone and dished it to Barclay Goodrow in the right wing corner. Goodrow sailed a pass to the point to Cernak, who stepped into a one-timer of his own. His shot beat Oettinger through a screen for his fifth of the season.

Ross Colton and Mikhail Sergachev put the final cherries on top in the final three minutes. Each of them notched empty-net goals to put this game out of reach.

With this game in the rearview mirror, these teams will meet for the final time this season when they face off on Friday night at 7 pm at Amalie Arena. Following Friday’s contest, the Lightning and Panthers conclude the season with back-to-back meetings in Sunrise.

Three Stars of the Game

1st Star: Brayden Point – Game-winning goal and one assist

2nd Star: Alex Killorn – One goal and one assist

3rd Star: Andrei Vasilevskiy – 20 saves on 22 shots

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