What a performance by Andrei Vasilevskiy.
The Tampa Bay Lightning entered the Thursday night home game against the Dallas Stars on a three-game winning streak after beating the Columbus Blue Jackets twice and the Chicago Blackhawks once.The Dallas Stars entered the game on a one-game losing streak after splitting a two-game set at home against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Lightning came into the game with a 7-3-0 record while the Star carried a 6-2-2 record over their last ten games.
For the Lightning, they were looking for a valuable two points to climb in the standings as they chase the Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers for the division title or at least home ice in the first round. The Stars on the other hand are chasing the Nashville Predators for the last spot in the Central Division, trailing them by two points but with two games in hand.
David Savard returned to the line up, replacing Cal Foote, who had drawn in for the one game that Savard missed with a lower body injury. Andrei Vasilevskiy got the start in net with Jake Oettinger starting for the Dallas Stars.
Every game that I’ve covered for RawCharge on Twitter this year, which is most games, I usually start the night by asking everyone “Are y’all ready for some hockey?” Over the past month and a half or so, with the Lightning having some underwhelming games, I often got responses of “I hope the Lightning are.” Starting games on time has been a bit of an issue recently for the Lightning, though they’ve been showing signs of improving on that bad habit.
Tonight was one of those nights where they started on time. At one point, the shots on goal were 9-1 for Tampa Bay, including a few during a power play. The end of the first period got a little bit sloppy, though. There were some lazy passes, some mishandling of the puck, and some neutral zone turnovers. They threw in a few odd man rushes as well. I have to give the Lightning credit though because they busted back and had some good defensive plays to cover up some of those mistakes. What the skaters couldn’t cover up for, Vasilevskiy was up to the task for it.
The Lightning got the first power play of the night when Jamie Benn checked Ryan McDonagh from behind without the puck. Benn sat for two minutes for Interference, and the Lightning went to work on the power play with the first unit. The first 30 seconds were rough with the Stars clearing the puck down the ice after the face-off and then Point mishandling the puck and allowing another clear.
After that first 30 seconds, the first unit entered the zone, got set up, and didn’t leave for the rest of the power play. One of the best chances of the power play was a diagonal pass by Ondrej Palat at the right wing face-off dot through the top of the crease. Alex Killorn got a piece of the puck, but didn’t get enough to direct it on net. The puck bounced up and over to the side of the net where Brayden Point had crept down from his spot. Point corralled the puck and took a bad angle shot that went off Oettinger and stayed out. The Lightning got several good shots at the net and made some good passing plays to set up chances, but ultimately couldn’t score.
The opening goal of the game came 14:41 into the first period. Alex Barre-Boulet was leading the forecheck with Palat following him up as the second forward. The Stars moved the puck from behind the net to the half wall. The next pass hit Barre-Boulet who was backing out of the zone in coverage while Palat was challenging the puck carrier. Palat picked up the puck as Dallas skated past it, wheeled around, and snapped a wrist shot blocker side to the back of the net to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead.
Palat(15) goal, unassisted.
The Stars showed some life after the Palat goal and were also aided by some sloppy plays by the Lightning. In one particular instance, Coleman lost the handle on the puck just after exiting the zone. The defensemen were already skating forward to join the rush, and Dallas jumped on the puck and entered with a two-on-one. McDonagh took away the center of the ice and forced Robertson to shoot. Vasilevskiy got a piece of the puck and kept it wide of the net.
The Lightning settled things down a bit in the last couple of the minutes after a few sloppy mistakes where either the defense covered it up, or Vasilevskiy made a save. The Lightning finished the period with 56% of the shot attempts at 5v5 and a 59.21% share of Expected Goals. The biggest thing that sticks out is that the Lightning only had one of their shots blocked and only missed with two shots. The Lightning also didn’t get as much going right around the net as they had against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday. They did however get a number of good opportunities from the top of the slot which is still a good place to shoot from.
I’d like to say the Lightning picked up where they left off when they came out for the second period. However, they did not. Dallas came out with some really good push and controlled the play from the start of the period, the way the Lightning had controlled the play to start the first period. They got their first power play of the game just 1:20 into the period when Luck Schenn was called for tripping as his man was entering the defensive zone.
The Stars continued their push after their power play expired. The Lightning’s mistakes also continued. Victor Hedman had to go down to defend a two-on-one after a puck battle was lost in the neutral zone leading to a two-on-one. Vasilevskiy got his blocker on the shot. Later in the period, McDonagh was up in the play and got caught as Dallas took the puck away. Erik Cernak was back and nearly stopped the pass across with his glove. The puck made it through, but landed for Dallas to take the shot. It wasn’t immediate though and Vasilevskiy was able to make the move across for the stop.
Through the rest of the period, the Dallas Stars controlled the puck and the shot quality. The Lightning were good in the first period. The Stars were better in the second period. It took Vasilevskiy being sharp to maintain the lead in that period, as the Lightning only got two shots on goal all period. Lightning have to feel lucky to come out of the period still holding a 1-0 lead after that poor period.
As he often does, Jon Cooper sent the Yanni Gourde line out to start the third period hoping to create a spark. It generally worked for the first few shifts, but the Lightning didn’t generate a lot of offense, and certainly not dangerous offense. The Lightning also were still giving up some sloppy plays.
That looked to be in trouble though when Anthony Cirelli was called for a high stick during a neutral zone puck battle along the walls. With how little offense the Lightning generated up to this point in the period, this penalty kill was going to be big to maintain their 1-0 lead.
And boy, oh boy was it. Not long into the penalty kill, Blake Coleman was in the neutral zone defending the rush. John Klingberg fumbled the puck and Coleman scooped it up. He got past Klingberg and another Star and was in all alone when he got tripped from behind. Because he was clear of the defenders and never got his shot, he was awarded a penalty shot. And he made! It! Count! Coleman cruised in to the right wing, brought it back to the slot at the hashes and sniped the puck top corner past Oettinger to put the Lightning up 2-0. Check the end of this recap for more tidbits about the penalty shot goal.
Coleman(12) shorthanded goal, unassisted penalty shot.
The Lightning finished off the penalty kill without further incident and kept the Stars from getting any really good chances. The Lightning found some steam after the Coleman goal and mounted some push back.
Needing points in the standings, Dallas got aggressive early pulling Oettinger with three minutes to go. Within the first minute, Yanni Gourde got two chances with the puck to put it on net. The first was tipped wide of the net, the second he had no lane to the net and just put it into the corner. With just under two minutes to go in the period, Brayden Point scooped up a loose puck at the face-off dot. He fought past two checkers to the other side of the zone, then worked it into the neutral zone and over the red line before he flung the puck into the empty net to put the Lightning up 3-0 which stood as the final score.
Point(22) empty net goal, assisted by Andrei Vasilevski(4).
Andrei Vasilevskiy was a beast in net. The Lightning’s defensive miscues reared their head, especially in the second period. He had to come up with some big saves to maintain the lead in the second. Then he withstood the late attempt by the Stars with the goalie pulled to break his shutout. This marks the third time this season that Vasilevskiy has shut out the Dallas Stars.
The listless second period and the defensive miscues are still a concern for the Lightning. The one positive I can say from it, is that they seemed to do a much better job of getting back and offering some help to Vasilevskiy instead of leaving him out to dry. On their odd man breaks, Dallas only completed one pass across and the defensemen helped to keep them to the outside and not cut across the middle making the saves a little easier for Vasilevskiy.
Penalty Shot Goal Tidbits
- With Coleman’s penalty shot goal, he’s the 9th player in Lightning history to score one and the 14th penalty shot goal overall in franchise history.
- This was the first for the Lightning since Cory Conacher scored one against the Vancouver Canucks during the 2017-18 season
- The last penalty shot attempt for the Lightning came at the beginning of the 2019-20 season for Nikita Kucherov who did not score.
- Cedric Paquette in 2015-16 has the only other shorthanded penalty shot goal in franchise history.
- The Lightning are 10-3-0 with one tie when they score a penalty shot goal.
- Vincent Lecavalier is the franchise leader with five penalty shot goals. Steven Stamkos with two is the only other player with multiple penalty shot goals.
- Current Tampa Bay Lightning European Scout Mikael Andersson was the first Lightning player to score a penalty shot goal in the 1992-93 season.