Lightning overpower Stars for 6-1 victory
TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay continues to dominate its competition, and in a battle of the NHL’s top two power plays on Thursday night, the Lightning managed to score on both.
The Lightning had a power-play and short-handed goal and Steven Stamkos matched a career high with four points as Tampa Bay pulled away for a 6-1 victory over the Dallas Stars at Amalie Arena.
“They want to produce, they like to produce and they are producing,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said of the line that includes Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Vladislav Namestnikov. “They’re the engine that starts our team, and it’s been really good.”
Stamkos scored twice and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy outplayed former Lightning teammate Ben Bishop, who gave up six goals in his return to Tampa, the most he has allowed since he was traded away last spring.
“They’re a scary team to play right now,” said Bishop, who got a tribute video and extended ovation during the first period. “They’re feeling it too. You can see them looking for each other and back doors and whatnot.
“Obviously, they’re healthy now, and it’s been a while since we’ve, they’ve had that whole lineup like that. You can see the success they’re going to have as long as they stay healthy.”
Vasilevskiy finished with 27 saves for his league-best 14th win.
Tampa Bay (15-2-2) continued its dominating play, starting with a power-play goal from Stamkos 47 seconds into the second period. He added an even-strength goal in the third period, giving him 10 goals for the season.
Stamkos went into the night as the NHL’s points leader, and the power-play goal was also his league-best seventh.
Radek Faksa tied the score for Dallas (9-9-1) with 16:26 left in the second period, stealing the puck and scoring on a breakaway for his fourth goal and a 1-1 tie.
That didn’t last long, as Lightning rookie Mikhail Sergachev fired a long shot past Bishop for a 2-1 lead with 15:09 left in the second period, his fifth goal of the season.
The Lightning’s special teams are playing so well that they scored against the NHL’s No. 1 power play. Brayden Point stole the puck from defenseman John Klingberg behind the net and wrapped it around for a short-handed goal.
Point’s eighth goal of the season was the third short-handed goal for the Lightning this season, and only the second allowed by Dallas.
Dallas had a five-on-three power play for 25 seconds late in the second period but couldn’t convert even that.
“This is probably the biggest disappointment so far this year,” Stars winger Jamie Benn said. “They pretty much took it to us, and from the start of the second, took over. They’re a good team, they kept coming at us, and we didn’t help ourselves tonight.”
Tampa Bay added three even-strength goals in the third period, from Stamkos and defenseman Jake Dotchin, his second of the season. The last came from Nikita Kucherov, who extended his NHL lead with his 17th goal with 6:08 left.
Cooper was pleased with Point’s line, which held Benn to no points and minimal shots in 21 minutes of ice time. He also had praise for his penalty kill, which killed off three power plays in a span of seven minutes in the second period.
“You look at special teams. If you look at the team that won special teams, more often than not, that’s the team that won the game,” Cooper said. “Especially a power play as dangerous as theirs, they did a phenomenal job to get through that (seven) minutes. It was a great effort by them.”
NOTES: Tampa Bay continues a three-game homestand Saturday against the New York Islanders, with the Chicago Blackhawks coming to Tampa on Wednesday. ... Dallas returns home for two games, with Edmonton on Saturday and Montreal on Tuesday. ... Lightning C Cedric Paquette missed a 12th straight game with an upper-body injury. C Gabriel Dumont and D Slater Koekkoek were healthy scratches. ... Dallas D Marc Methot missed a fourth straight game with a lower-body injury and RW Brett Ritchie missed his fourth straight with an upper-body injury.