Tampa Bay Lightning Get Outshined By The Dallas Stars


119. Final. 3. 23. 5

The Tampa Bay Lightning suffer their second straight loss of the season as they’re defeated 5-3 by captain Jamie Benn and the Dallas Stars.

The Tampa Bay Lightning started tonight’s encounter with the Dallas Stars out with a bang. Unfortunately, despite a surge late in the third period, the Lightning were unable to outshine the Stars as they fall 5-3 at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.

The Tampa Bay Lightning set the pace early in the game. They skated with purpose and looked like they were ready to bring their “A” game against the offensively white hot Dallas Stars. Just two minutes and twenty four seconds into the first period, Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos scored a beautiful goal, while in the process of falling on his face mind you, off a pass from Jonathan Drouin.

Drouin has really been stepping his game up this season. It seems as if he is more than prepared to hold true to the words he uttered prior to the start of the season of wanting to make an impression this season. It is quite possible with Stamkos and Drouin running on the same line we could be looking at the Tampa Bay Lightning’s new dynamic duo.

Unfortunately, this is the moment when things took a serious downturn for the Tampa Bay Lightning. It almost seemed as if every single spark they started the game with had fizzled by the light of the Stars.

Just before the halfway point in the period, the Stars would make their move. The Stars would strike twice in the first period. The first goal would come at the hands of Stars center Tyler Seguin. Unfortunately, a lot of the blame for this goal lands squarely on the shoulders of Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Matt Carle.

From almost every angle, it seemed as if Carle’s attempt to block the shot interfered with Bishop’s ability to make a save. While this may seem like a simple mistake, these are the kind of mistakes that can sink a team’s chance of coming out on top.

The Stars’ second goal would come on the Power Play as Tampa Bay Lightning center Vladislav Namestnikov sat in the penalty box for two minutes for Holding. Jamie Benn would get the tip-in off a shot from center Jason Spezza.

Unfortunately, things would not get any better for the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second period. The Stars would extend their lead by one as center Cody Eakin scored his third goal of the season to extend the Stars’ lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning to 3-1.

This is where things got much darker for the Tampa Bay Lightning. There were just over four minutes left in the second period. The Tampa Bay Lightning found themselves at a 3-1 deficit, but little did they know things were about to get much worse.

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman was playing the puck along the boards when he was intercepted by Stars defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka. Jokipakka was able to successfully strip Hedman of the puck. Unfortunately, what Hedman didn’t know is that he was about to be crushed into the boards by Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn.

Hedman’s head collided with the boards and he quickly fell to the ice hovelled over in pain. Quickly, Tampa Bay Lightning Head Athletic Trainer Tom Mulligan headed out to get a better look at Hedman. The only good news to come out of this is that Hedman was able to make his way off the ice and down the tunnel under his own power.

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Unfortunately this would be the last time we would see Hedman. It wasn’t until late in the third period when it was announced that Hedman would not be returning to the game after sustaining an undisclosed injury.

As you can imagine, things started to get heated between these two teams; especially given the fact there was no penalty called on the play against Benn for his hit on Hedman. Unfortunately, things got way out of hand in the next couple minutes of play.

Dallas Stars left wing Curtis McKenzie was playing the puck in the neutral zone when he was clocked by Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Nikita Nesterov. Unfortunately, as McKenzie attempted to play the puck he found himself turned around which caused Nesterov to hit him from behind. McKenzie flew forward and his head and side of his body smashed into the boards.

McKenzie laid on the ice in serious distress as a brawl broke out to the side of where McKenzie laid helpless on the ice. When all was said and done, Nesterov would find himself with a five minute major for checking from behind and a game misconduct. Elsewhere on the play, Lightning center Brian Boyle and Stars left wing Travis Moen would sit for 2 minutes apiece for Roughing.

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While we are most certainly not willing to venture to say the hit to McKenzie was headhunted by Nesterov, as the hit didn’t seem to hold intent to injure; however, the fact of the matter is that someone was injured and it was off of an illegal hit from behind. While we haven’t heard anything from the league as of yet, we would not be surprised if the NHL Department of Player Safety doesn’t look into this one a little further.

Adding insult to injury (quite literally), the Stars were able to score on the Power Play with a goal from Stars defenseman Jason Demers, extending the Stars lead to 4-1. This was Demers’ first goal of the season.

When the Tampa Bay Lightning hit the ice to start the third period, we started to see some of the spark the Tampa Bay Lightning started this game with. Just around the eight minute mark into the third period, Vladislav Namestnikov would intercept a pass from Cody Eakin and make his way through the neutral zone. After Erik Condra was able to knock the Stars defender off of Namestnikov, he would take the shot and lessen the Stars’ lead by one.

Less than two minutes later, Steven Stamkos would score his second goal of the game with assists from Jonathan Drouin and Brian Boyle. As we mentioned before, the chemistry between Stamkos and Drouin has been building over the course of the season, and if it continues like this, the NHL could be looking at some fierce competition this season.

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Unfortunately, the spark ignited in the third period would not produce a flame bright enough to regain control of the game from the Dallas Stars. Minutes after Stamkos’ goal, the Stars would strike back with a goal of their own from Stars center Jason Spezza. Spezza is on fire lately, scoring a hat trick on Tuesday night in the Stars’ 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.

One of the key components of the Lightning’s downfall in tonight’s encounter with the Stars is the special teams. The Lightning went 0/2 on the Power Play, which is quickly becoming par for the course for the Lightning. Unfortunately, the Penalty Kill squad didn’t do much better.  Of the three Power Play opportunities the Dallas Stars had, they were able to capitalize on two of them.

The Tampa Bay Lightning has continually struggled on special teams over the past few season. In most instances the Lightning have been able to overcome this, but it seems in the last two games their luck may just be running out in this area. We would hope Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper will nip this one in the bud sooner rather than later.

The Tampa Bay Lightning is filled to the brim with players who have tremendous firepower. If the Tampa Bay Lightning could sew up this loose end, they could easily be one of the most dominant forces in the National Hockey League.

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On the bright side, if last season is any indication of what the 2015-16 season is going to look like, the Tampa Bay Lightning have a knack for not losing more than two games in a row. This means the Lightning have an opportunity to dig themselves out of the rut they’ve found themselves in over the course of the last two games.

Their first opportunity at this will be Saturday night when the Tampa Bay Lightning swing open the doors to the Amalie Arena to host the Buffalo Sabres for the first time this season. The puck drops at 7:00 p.m. The Tampa Bay Lightning will be ready and waiting to get back on the right track with a victory over the Sabres. Win, lose, or shootout, we will always be ready the Be The Thunder for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

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