Tyler Seguin returned to the lineup and scored two goals, but it wasn’t enough for the Dallas Stars, who fell 5-4 to Tampa Bay at Amalie Arena Saturday.
Seguin, who had missed the previous ten games due to a knee injury, tallied his 30th and 31st goals of the season in 19:11 of ice time. Seguin, who was told he would be out 4-6 weeks, made it back into the lineup in 22 days.
“Ten games is a long time in this league, at least it feels like a long time,” Seguin said. “I worked really hard on my cardio trying to get back in the lineup, and I was happy to. Obviously, scoring a goal early on felt good.”
“Obviously it was nice [to have him back],” Stars captain Jamie Benn said of Seguin. “He looked like he didn’t skip a beat. He played a pretty good game.”
Seguin’s two goals helped the Stars carry a 3-2 lead into the third period, but the Stars couldn’t hold it. Tampa Bay scored twice in less than two minutes early in the third to take a lead they would hold the rest of the game. The Stars are 21-3-5 when leading after two periods. Their .724 winning percentage when leading after 40 minutes ranks 28th in the league.
“It’s the same story,” Seguin said. “What’s there to talk about anymore? We give away wins. That’s what we did tonight.”
The Stars played the final half of the game with just five defenseman after John Klingberg went out with a lower body injury. He is day to day.
“It was tough. We put a lot of effort into that game,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “We were down to five D and I thought those five D gave us everything they had.”
Vernon Fiddler scored two goals and Jhonas Enroth stopped 23 of 27 shots for the Stars, who had a two-game winning streak come to an end. The Stars are 29-27-10 on the season and fell ten points behind Winnipeg for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 16 games remaining. The Jets won 3-1 in Nashville Saturday night.
Tampa Bay won its third straight game and set a franchise mark with its 26th home win of the season (26-6-1).
“We are playing good on home ice and we feel comfortable out there,” Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said. “Being down one goal going into the third we were very comfortable we could come back.”
The two teams traded power play goals over a 1:25 span of the first period. Anton Stralman scored off a shot from the point to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead at the 12:59 mark. The Stars answered at the 14:24 mark when Seguin took a cross-ice pass from Jason Spezza and scored off a blast from the left circle.
The Lightning grabbed the lead less than 90 seconds after Seguin’s goal. Nikita Kucherov roofed a shot over Enroth from the left circle to give Tampa Bay a 2-1 lead at 15:52 of the first period.
Seguin struck again early in the second to tie the game. Klingberg sent a pass from behind the goal line to Seguin, who scored from the slot to make it a 2-2 game at the 3:52 mark.
The Stars grabbed the lead at the 11:03 mark when Fiddler tipped in an Alex Goligoski shot from the left point to make it a 3-2 game.
Tampa Bay scored twice in a 1:51 span early in the third period to take a 4-3 lead. Alex Killorn scored from the slot off the rush to tie the game at the 3:40 mark. Hedman joined the rush with the Stars on a line change, took a pass from Tyler Johnson and scored from the left circle at the 5:31 mark to put Tampa Bay ahead 4-3.
“We just wanted to make a push. Being down one goal we wanted to be more aggressive,” Hedman said. “We created a lot of chances in the last five minutes of the second period. We wanted to keep that going. We scored two quick goals, and that was a good feeling.”
The Stars had some great chances to tie, but couldn’t cash in on Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, who stopped 31 of 35 shots on the night.
“I’m frustrated with myself,” Spezza said. “I had the puck on my stick in the slot with three minutes left and I hit him in the chest. It’s frustrating to lose another game in the third period.”
The Stars went on a power play late in the game and had a six-on-four advantage with Enroth out of the net for an extra attacker, but Brian Boyle scored into an empty net to give Tampa Bay a 5-3 lead. Fiddler scored on the power play when he redirected a Jordie Benn centering pass into the net with his skate with 2.6 seconds left to make it a 5-4 final.
Stars defenseman John Klingberg left the game midway through the second period with a lower-body injury and did not return. Klingberg appeared to hit a rut in the ice, lost his balance and came up hobbling.
“Day to day,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “Hopefully it’s not too serious.”
*Tyler Seguin played 19:11, scored two goals and had four shots on goal. He played right wing, starting the game on a line with Jamie Benn at left wing and Cody Eakin at center. Jason Spezza began center Benn and Seguin late in the first period.
*The Stars were 2-2 on the power play and 3-4 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars outshot the Lightning 35-28.
*Jamie Benn, Ryan Garbutt, Vernon Fiddler and Jason Spezza led the Stars with five shots on goal each.
*The Stars won 23 of 48 faceoffs (48 percent).
*Cody Eakin won 7 of 14 draws (50 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 4 of 7 (57 percent). Jason Spezza won 8 of 19 (42 percent). Jamie Benn won 3 of 5 (60 percent).
*Alex Goligoski led the Stars with 27:07 of ice time.
Jamie Benn – Jason Spezza – Tyler Seguin
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin- Ryan Garbutt
Curtis McKenzie –Shawn Horcoff – Ales Hemsky
Colton Sceviour – Vernon Fiddler – Patrick Eaves
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
Jordie Benn – Jason Demers
Patrik Nemeth – Jyrki Jokipakka
Scratched: Brett Ritchie
Injured: Trevor Daley (lower body), Travis Moen (upper body), Valeri Nichushkin (hip)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.