The Dallas Stars suffered their first defeat of the preseason, falling to the Tampa Bay Lightning, 6-3, Friday at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
The Stars had a 2-1 lead in the game, but the Lightning rattled off five unanswered goals to build a 6-2 lead over the Stars, who fell to 2-1-0 in preseason play.
“We were a step behind and they were stronger on the puck than we were,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “I thought it was a game of real big turnovers and our young defense looked pretty young at times.”
Brendan Ranford picked up one goal and one assist for the Stars. Jason Spezza and Nicolas Blanchard also scored goals. Brett Ritchie had two assists.
Kari Lehtonen, who was scheduled to play the entire game, came out after the second period with the Stars down 5-2. Lehtonen stopped 13 of 18 shots. Jussi Rynnas played the third period and stopped eight of nine shots.
“I thought Kari was having a tough night and after two periods it was enough, and I thought I’d give Rynnas a little bit of work,” Ruff said.
Tampa Bay opened the scoring 8:24 into the game when defenseman Anton Stralman pinched in from the point, took a pass from Brian Boyle and scored from the right circle to make it a 1-0 game.
The Stars scored the next two to make it a 2-1 game. Ritchie backhanded a puck from behind the goal line to Blanchard, who scored from close range to tie the game at 11:36 of the first. Colton Sceviour made a pretty pass to Ranford, who was driving the net and redirected the puck past Tampa goaltender Ben Bishop at 16:06 of the first.
But the Lighting tied the game just 29 seconds later when Cody Kunyk beat Lehtonen from the right circle with a shot off the rush to make it a 2-2 game.
Lehtonen came up big late in the period with Tampa Bay on a power play, making a slick save on a redirection off the stick of Brett Connolly.
But Stralman put Tampa Bay up 3-2 at 4:36 of the second period, picking up a loose puck in the right circle and scoring off a wrist shot.
The Stars had a chance to tie with back-to-back power plays a short time later, including 39 seconds of five-on-three time, but they couldn’t take advantage.
The Lightning then scored two more times in the period to build a 5-2 lead. Nikita Kucherov scored off a blast from the slot at the 8:34 mark. And then just after the Stars’ fourth power play of the period expired, Matt Corrente came out of the penalty box and tallied on a breakaway at the 13:26 mark.
Tampa Bay extended the lead to 6-2 at 7:44 of the third when Ryan Callahan picked off a John Klingberg pass in front of the Dallas net and backhanded it past Rynnas.
The Stars scored less than two minutes later when Ritchie sent a cross-ice pass to Spezza, who whipped the puck past Evgeni Nabokov, who played the second half of the game in goal for Tampa Bay.
The Stars continue their preseason schedule Saturday, playing the St. Louis Blues in Kansas City.
*Tampa Bay outshot the Stars 27-22.
*Jason Spezza led the Stars with five shots on goal.
*The Stars were 0-6 on the power play and 5-5 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars won 31 of 55 faceoffs (56 percent).
*Spezza won 8 of 14 draws (57 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 9 of 16 (56 percent). Taylor Peters won 4 of 6 (67 percent). Shawn Horcoff won 4 of 7 (57 percent). Jason Dickinson won 4 of 10 (40 percent).
*Jordie Benn led the Stars with 21:56 of ice time.
Shawn Horcoff – Jason Spezza – Valeri Nichushkin
Brendan Ranford – Vernon Fiddler – Colton Sceviour
Nicolas Blanchard – Jason Dickinson – Brett Ritchie
Ludwig Karlsson – Taylor Peters – Scott Glennie
Trevor Daley – Julius Honka
Jordie Benn – Sergei Gonchar
Patrik Nemeth – John Klingberg