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Stralman, Callahan, Boyle lead Lightning to win

by Corey Long

TAMPA -- Ben Bishop and Steven Stamkos made their preseason debuts for the Tampa Bay Lightning, but it was three former New York Rangers who made the biggest impact in a 6-3 preseason win against the Dallas Stars on Friday.

Anton Stralman scored two goals, Ryan Callahan scored a goal and had an assist, and Brian Boyle had two assists. The three players earned the three stars of the game at Amalie Arena.

"That's kind of ironic isn't it," Stralman said. "It's possible we might have bribed someone to make that happen."

Boyle had the assist on Stralman's first goal after he outworked two Stars defenders to control the puck behind the net. Boyle directed a pass to Stralman, who was creeping into the slot, and the defenseman ripped a wrist shot over the right shoulder Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen for a 1-0 lead 8:04 into the game.

"I saw him trying to get in position and it was just well-executed," Boyle said. "We were working hard down low and some good things happened. It's good to have that sort of familiarity with your teammates, and we're all happy to be here with the Lightning now."

Stralman, who signed a five-year contract with the Lightning this offseason, scored his second goal 4:36 into the second period to give the Lightning a 3-2 lead when he flipped the puck toward a crowd of players around Lehtonen.

"I don't [think] the goals are something you can expect from me every game," Stralman said. "My focus is on defense and the first period was a little sloppy on that end, but once things started to settle down I thought we did a good job on that end. On the offensive end, that's part of my game that I'm trying to work on and improve."

The Lightning increased their lead to 4-2 at 8:34 when Nikita Kucherov took a feed from Stamkos in the slot and blasted a slap shot past Lehtonen.

Stamkos, a healthy scratch in the first two preseason games, was on the ice for 16:24 and finished plus-3. He was welcomed back with a hard, clean hit by Stars defenseman Jordie Benn in the first period.

"He got me pretty good on that one but I was able to shake it off," Stamkos said. "It was a good hit. It was nice to get a few reps out there tonight. Boyle and Callahan did a lot of the heavy lifting, and you know to expect that because they are great teammates."

Boyle, who signed a free-agent contract with the Lightning this offseason, got his second assist leading Matthew Corrente on a breakaway as he came out of the penalty box. Corrente flipped a backhand under Lehtonen's pad to give the Lightning a 5-2 lead at 13:26.

"Honestly I was so tired after the penalty kill I was just trying to get the puck to a clear space," Boyle said. "And it turned out to be a pretty good play."

The Stars scored midway through the first period when Brett Ritchie fought for control of a loose puck behind the net and found Nicolas Blanchard for a one-timer past Bishop, who was playing his first game since suffering a dislocated elbow April 8.

It was Ritchie's first action since breaking his pinkie in the Traverse City Prospects Tournament.

"He's been doing a lot of good things in camp," Dallas coach Lindy Ruff said. "So I'm not surprised to see him doing some positive things on the offensive end."

Dallas took a 2-1 lead with less than four minutes remaining in the first period when Colton Sceviour delivered a perfect feed to Brendan Ranford on an odd-man rush. The Lightning tied the game 2-2, 29 seconds later on a goal by Cody Kunyk.

Bishop played 29:46 and finished with 11 saves on 13 shots.

"Everything felt pretty good and it was good getting into a game," Bishop said. "Right now the plan is to continue to increase the workload so I'm ready by the time the season starts."

Callahan gave the Lightning a 6-2 lead with an unassisted backhand goal past Stars backup goalie Jussi Rynnas in the third period. Callahan had an assist on Kucherov's goal in the second period.

Callahan, who joined the Lightning in a trade for Martin St. Louis before last season's NHL Trade Deadline, set a physical tone with four hits.

"There's no on-off switch with him," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "He's going to give you everything he has every time he's one the ice. Overall I thought our penalty kill was very good."

Dallas was 0-for-6 on power plays; Tampa Bay finished 0-for-5.

"We had some opportunities with the two-man advantage," Ruff said. "It's something we're going to have to clean up."

Jason Spezza, traded to Dallas from the Ottawa Senators this offseason, scored in the third period with assists from Ritchie and Ranford. Lehtonen had 13 saves on 18 shots in two periods.

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