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game recap

Lightning get closer to playoff spot

Defeat Stars to move within three points of third in Atlantic, second wild card in East

by Corey Long / NHL.com Correspondent

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning moved within three points of third place in the Atlantic Division with a 6-3 win against the Dallas Stars at Amalie Arena on Sunday.

The Lightning (39-29-10), who are 5-0-1 in their past six games, trail the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators by three points in the race for third in the division. Tampa Bay has four games remaining, and Toronto and Ottawa, which holds the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference, each has five.

 

WATCH: All Stars vs. Lightning highlights

 

The Lightning will start a three-game road trip Tuesday against the Boston Bruins, who are in second place in the Atlantic Division, four points ahead of Tampa Bay.

Adam Erne scored twice, Ondrej Palat had a goal and two assists, and Braydon Coburn, Brayden Point and Anton Stralman each scored. Peter Budaj made 23 saves for his 30th win of the season, third with the Lightning since being acquired Feb. 26 in a trade from the Los Angeles Kings.

"Now it's down to win or go home," Stralman said. "Going 4-0 might not be enough, but it will help. Every game is a Game 7."

Video: DAL@TBL: Erne beats Lehtonen with slick forehand move

Gemel Smith, Jason Spezza and Brett Ritchie scored, and defenseman Esa Lindell had three assists for the Stars (32-36-11). Kari Lehtonen made 19 saves.

Erne gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead at 11:27 of the first period when he went wide around Stars defenseman Dan Hamhuis on the right side before dragging the puck around Lehtonen at the top of the crease and scoring inside the left post.

Smith tied the game 1-1 at 1:49 of the second period when he scored off a deflection of a Lindell shot.

"[Smith] played well, he played well when he was here before and he played well [Sunday]," Ruff said. "We got guys that are trying hard and playing hard."

Spezza gave the Stars a 2-1 lead at 10:57 of the second when he beat Budaj with a wrist shot into the left corner of the net from the top of the right faceoff circle.

Video: DAL@TBL: Spezza rips a wicked wrister past Budaj

Coburn scored his fourth goal of the season to tie the game 2-2 with 18 seconds left in the second.

The Lightning scored four of five goals in the third period.

Point gave the Lightning a 3-2 lead at 5:43. Rookie defenseman Jake Dotchin passed to Point, who was open in the slot and beat Lehtonen.

"I just think we started skating in the third," Point said. "We just came with a better compete level. This was big. We definitely needed these points and we worked hard in the third to get them."

Palat put Tampa Bay up 4-2 with a 4-on-3 power-play goal at 13:27 off a backhand feed from Jonathan Drouin.

Video: DAL@TBL: Palat cranks wrister past Lehtonen for PPG

Erne scored his second goal of the night, third of the season, at 14:37 to make it 5-2.

Ritchie got Dallas within 5-3 on a power-play goal at 16:40.

Stralman scored into an empty net with 1.4 seconds left to make it 6-3.

"They got the 4-on-3 goal and we didn't do a good enough job of keeping the game simple," Spezza said. "We were in the game but they capitalized on their chances and we didn't."

Lightning coach Jon Cooper won a challenge at 4:30 of the second period, getting an apparent Smith goal overturned when video review showed he was offside before scoring.

The Stars had two more goals waved off late in the third period. With 1:13 left, an apparent Tyler Seguin goal was overturned when video review showed his stick was above the crossbar when he contacted the puck. Then, with about 30 seconds left, Julius Honka's wrist shot knocked off Budaj's mask, causing referee Tim Peel to blow his whistle before Cody Eakin put the rebound in the net.

Video: DAL@TBL: Dotchin, Point combine for slick goal in 3rd

 

Goal of the game

After getting knocked down during a puck battle near the boards on the left side of the Stars zone, Coburn went to the net and scored on the rebound of Stralman's shot from above the right hash marks. "That was a big goal that [Coburn] scored," Stralman said. "That gave us a little more life, and moving into the third we took it another level."

Video: DAL@TBL: Coburn pots rebound past Lehtonen, ties game

 

Save of the game

Budaj stopped a deflection by Smith from close range off of a Radek Faksa point shot at 11:21 of the third period with the Lightning leading by one.

Video: DAL@TBL: Budaj robs Stars twice with great pad saves

 

Unsung performance of the game

Defenseman Luke Witkowski had three hits and two blocked shots in 7:02 of ice time in his 30th game with Tampa Bay this season.

 

Highlight of the game

Erne scored his second goal on a turnaround no-look wrist shot from the right circle that beat Lehtonen through the five-hole. "It was kind of a weird shift, but [Vladislav Namestnikov] made a great pass to me," Erne said. "I had no other play but to spin around and shoot it. I think it caught him by surprise."

Video: DAL@TBL: Erne nets second goal on spin-o-rama in 3rd

 

They said it

"I haven't looked [at] them, I just know it was a pretty quick whistle on the last one as we were taking control of the game. The offside goal, they got it right, I looked at that one." -- Stars coach Lindy Ruff on having three apparent goals waved off

 

"The discussion in the room was, 'Do you want to give yourself a chance to play past next Sunday?' So, if you don't, then play the way we did in the second. If you do, play the way we did in the third." -- Lightning coach Jon Cooper on their four-goal third period

 

Need to know

Tampa Bay defenseman Jason Garrison left the game in the second period. Cooper said he may he reaggravated a lower-body injury.

 

What's next

Stars: Host the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday (8:30 p.m. ET; FS-SW+, FS-A PLUS, NHL.TV)

Lightning: At the Boston Bruins on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports, NESN, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Erne, Palat power Lightning to 6-3 win against Stars

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