Stars (6-6-4, 16 points) vs. Lightning (14-4-1, 29 points)
7:30 p.m. CT, American Airlines Center
TV: FOX Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 96.7-FM, 1310-AM
Rick Bowness was asked Tuesday morning about Alexander Radulov's play that helped turn around the 2019-20 season, and the Stars coach said the team could use another one of those.
Radulov last season made an incredible individual effort to score a goal with 48 seconds remaining in the second period against Minnesota. The Stars were down 3-0 at the time and sitting at 5-8-3 in the standings. The goal helped serve as a catalyst for a 6-3 Stars victory that helped spark an 11-0-1 run. It was a great lesson in how one player and one play can get a season going.
"If you look at that goal, the effort around that net, he was not going to be denied," Bowness said. "He might have broken some sticks and legs and everything else, but that puck was going in the net. So that's what we need."
Video: MIN@DAL: Radulov dives to whack in loose puck
Radulov is sidelined with a lower-body issue and is expected to miss his 10 consecutive game tonight, but Bowness said anybody can create that type of goal as the Stars search to get out of a 2-6-4 slump.
Tampa Bay beat the Stars in six games in the Stanley Cup Final last season and then beat Dallas Saturday in the first rematch this season, 5-0. With the Stars starting a six-game homestand, a spark would really be helpful.
"That's a great goalie over there, and their defense are big and mobile and very strong. So you say: 'Go to the net, go to the net.' Well, there's another team over there not letting you get to the net," Bowness said. "So when that happens, you need that kind of effort that Rads used to spark the team and spark the season. And that's how close we are to turning this around and getting going.
"We feel we're very close, and it's going to take an effort like that -- and from not only one or two players, but from everyone."
Bowness trying to find right balance with rookies
Rookie Jason Robertson has played in the Stars' past four games, including some key shifts on top lines. Rookie Ty Dellandrea has sat the past three games after playing five in a row.
Bowness said that he's trying to find the balance with his younger players and trying to help them grow into their roles.
"This is an experienced hockey club, they know how to play together, and you can only have so many young players in that lineup, because they'll expose it," Bowness said of facing the Lightning.
Asked what Robertson is contributing, Bowness said: "He's a gifted offensive player, so there's a guy who when you watch him play he hangs onto the puck, he tries to make plays, he's not throwing it away. I like that confidence in him. Now, does he have a lot to learn about the speed, the intensity, the size of the opposition? Absolutely. Does he have a lot to learn about playing without the puck? Yes."
Video: Bowness on importance of Stars' six-game homestand
As for Dellandrea, the 20-year-old is in his first full season of pro hockey, and he's moving forward.
"Ty, on the other hand, he's a little bit younger, he's first-year pro," Bowness said. "He's had some good spells and he's had some spells where he just looks like he needs a little more time, so we're probably a little more patient with Ty."
As for all of the players, Bowness is preaching patience and confidence.
"When players struggle, they're doing things to cause the struggle and then confidence is a fine thing…where does it go?" Bowness said. "It disappears and then you can't go to the store and buy it back. You've got to work to get it back. When the confidence goes, it's just one split second hanging onto the puck or one split second looking to shoot. Sometimes, that's all it is. It doesn't sound like much, but on the ice, with the tempo of the game, it is. If you take that one extra split second to make a better play, all of the sudden plays happen."
Khudobin in net, 'game-time decisions' to be made
Anton Khudobin will start in goal for the Stars, but Bowness wasn't sharing much else.
The team held an optional morning skate, and the availability of defenseman Andrej Sekera is in question after he missed practice on Monday, but Bowness said they will wait until warm-up to decide anything.
"A couple of game-time decisions," he said. "Par for the course."
Joel Hanley would come in if Sekera can't play. The coaching staff also could switch a couple of forwards if they like.
By the numbers
The Lightning rank second in the NHL in second period goals with 29 and have outscored the opposition 29-13 in second periods. Dallas has a 22-18 edge in second period scoring, but yielded three goals to Tampa Bay in the second period Saturday.
Tampa Bay has won four straight games -- that's the longest active streak in the NHL and the second longest for the Lightning this season (six games).
That's the career record for Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy against the Stars. He has a 2.08 GAA and .929 save percentage in that span.
He said it
"I just work in practice, we have some good drills in practice where you can feel the puck. In a game, trying to get the puck in the first couple shifts and stay as long as I can with the puck. Confidence comes after that. Just get in the game right away on the first shift." -- Stars winger Denis Gurianov on what he is doing to try to break out of a nine-game goal drought
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.
Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika, and listen to his podcast.