There were a number of factors that contributed to this loss for the Lightning. The Bolts made some costly, isolated errors that the Dallas Stars were able to convert into goals. The Lightning, despite carrying play for long stretches at different points in the game, weren’t able to capitalize on enough of their own chances. Some of that was due to the play of Dallas netminder Kari Lehtonen. Some of it was due to some bad puck luck. And special teams hurt the Lightning, who allowed two power play goals and didn’t score on either of their own two power play opportunities. So, despite outshooting the Stars, 33-22, and having a 70-37 shot attempt advantage, the Lightning dropped their second consecutive game.
There were points in this game when the Lightning completely dominated play. One of those came in the opening minutes. During that time, the Lightning played from the red line in to the Dallas zone. Stars defenseman John Klingberg turned the puck over behind his net and Jonathan Drouin set up Steven Stamkos for a one-timer in the slot. Stamkos buried his fourth goal of the season to make it 1-0.
The Stars settled down after that goal and eventually tied the game after a Lightning neutral zone turnover. Jyrki Jolipakka countered into the Lightning zone and blasted a slap shot from the left circle on net. Ben Bishop made the save, but the rebound bounced off Tyler Seguin’s skate into the net.
The Lightning sandwiched two power plays around a Dallas man advantage in the second half of the first period. The Bolts couldn’t muster much of an attack on either of their chances, though, posting no shots. The Stars, on the other hand, scored on theirs to take the lead. Jason Spezza wired a beautiful cross ice pass to the back post, where Jamie Benn stuffed it in.
As they did at the beginning of the game, the Lightning surged in the second, which was Lehtonen’s best period. The Bolts fired 15 second period shots on net and generated several excellent scoring chances, but couldn’t beat Lehtonen. Instead, the Stars added to their lead. Following a mix-up in their neutral zone coverage, the Bolts allowed a two-on-one rush for Mattias Janmark and Cody Eakin. Eakin finished the chance to make the score 3-1. Then, after Nikita Nesterov was assessed a major penalty for a hit on Curtis McKenzie, the Stars added a fourth goal when Jason Demers rifled in a point shot during the ensuing power play.
Entering the third, the Lightning were not only trailing by three goals, they were also down two defensemen after the Nesterov game misconduct and an injury to Victor Hedman. But the Lightning didn’t let up. They netted two goals in a 1:38 span to cut the deficit to 4-3. But Spezza netted an important insurance goal for the Stars with 9:31 left and despite continuing to apply pressure, the Lightning would get no closer.
In spite of the loss, the Lightning did some good things in this game. They carried puck possession for long stretches. They dominated faceoffs, winning 66%. They had the aforementioned shot advantage. But costly mistakes hurt them – and as a result, they were forced to chase a deficit for most of the night. They’ll look to right the ship on Saturday against Buffalo before beginning a tough four-game road trip Tuesday in Nashville.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
Lehtonen’s second period saves.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
1.Jason Spezza – Stars. Goal and assist.
2.Steven Stamkos – Lightning. Two goals and assist.
3.Kari Lehtonen – Stars. 30 saves.