Preview: Dallas vs Tampa Bay
One of the major reasons the Tampa Bay Lightning have a healthy lead on everyone else in the league with 88 points is their depth and they hope to put it on display again Thursday night against the visiting Dallas Stars. The Lightning had six goal scorers, including at least one from each forward line, and 11 players posted a point in Tuesday’s 6-3 triumph against Western Conference heavyweight Calgary.
“We’ve got the top guys going and we’re getting scoring contributions from the other guys as well,” Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos told reporters. “Pretty dangerous combination to have. That’s why I think we’re having a lot of success is we’re getting contributions from everyone. That’s when we’re at our best is when everyone’s rolling and it’s tough to keep up with everyone.” The Lightning have won the last four meetings, including a 35-save performance by Andrei Vasilevskiy in a 2-0 victory Jan. 15 at Dallas, which held Tampa Bay to 21 shots in the encounter. The Stars are 1-1-1 on their five-game road trip after blanking Florida 3-0 on Tuesday as red-hot center Tyler Seguin scored twice and set up another while Anton Khudobin turned aside 30 shots. “We had to have a couple guys get X-rays just to make sure their bones weren’t broken from blocked shots,” Dallas coach Jim Montgomery told reporters. “I mean, that’s a team commitment to our identity, and I’m just really proud of the positive talk on the bench. It was a real good group effort.”
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, Sportsnet One, Sportsnet East, Sportsnet Pacific, FS Southwest (Dallas), FS Sun (Tampa Bay)
ABOUT THE STARS (29-22-5): Seguin leads the team in goals (24) and points (54) after scoring six times, setting up three others and posting a plus-7 rating in six contests during February. “Over the (All-Star) break I just took some time to – I don’t want to say reset, but it was a good break,” Seguin told reporters. “It was refreshing for me. I just felt a little more boost of energy. Personally just feeling good and glad the puck is going in.” Right wing Alexander Radulov registered five of his 46 points in the last five games while captain Jamie Benn owns four assists in the past four, but scored only one goal in his last 11 contests.
ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (42-11-4): Tampa Bay managed only seven goals in five games coming out of the NHLPA-mandated bye week/All-Star break, but have recorded 16 during a three-game winning streak. “We stick to the same routine and stay confident,” right wing Nikita Kucherov, who leads the league with 88 points after notching seven the past two games, told reporters Tuesday. “We’re just trying to play the same way every time. Sometimes pucks go in, sometimes they don’t.” Stamkos reached 30 goals for the sixth time in his career and fellow center Brayden Point scored his career-high 33rd against Calgary on Tuesday.
1. Dallas D Esa Lindell scored his career-high eighth goal Tuesday and is a plus-6 in six games this month.
2. Tampa Bay D Erik Cernak (lower body) and Ondrej Palat (upper body) missed Tuesday’s game, but could be back as soon as Thursday.
3. The Lightning lead the NHL on the power play (29.6 percent) and the Stars are fifth on the penalty kill (83.2).