Did I watch Live?: Nope
Why Not?: Work
Did I watch on replay?: Yup
Three Stars: 3. Brian Boyle 2. Jonathan Drouin 1. Jason Spezza
Fifteen minutes into the second period and the Lightning were looking pretty good. They were in a stretch were they were dominating play and racking up shots. Victor Hedman had the puck along the boards and looked down for a few seconds before making his pass. It was just long enough for Jamie Benn to put his shoulder into Hedman's chest. Unfortunately that led to the big Swede's head snapping into the glass. He did not return.
It's weird. When you see a team give up five goals you think they had a bad game. I won't say that Thursday night's 5-3 loss to the Stars was a great game, but the Lightning didn't play horribly. They got off to a great start with Steven Stamkos scoring two minutes into the game and Tyler Johnson ringing one off the post a few minutes later. Throughout most of the game they dictated play at even strength.
However, their special teams let them down again. They had two power plays and weren't able to get a shot off on either one of them. Heck on the second power play they didn't even get in position to attempt a shot. The good news on the penalty kill is that they actually spent two minutes shorthanded without giving up a goal. Unfortunately they were trying to kill a five-minute major and the Stars scored about halfway through it.
Ben Bishop didn't have his strongest game in net. For the first time all season he seemed to be fighting the puck and leaving rebounds around his net. On the other end Kari Lehtonen came through when his team needed him most – stopping all fifteen shots the Lightning threw at him in the second period. He let in a couple of soft ones in the third that allowed Tampa to get back into the game, but came up with a game-saving stop on Ryan Callahan right at the goal line.
If Hedman is out of any significant time it will be interesting to see what the organization does. Do they roll with Andrej Sustr and Nikita Nesterov in the line up or do they make their first call up from Syracuse?
Speaking of Nesterov – I have no problem with the refs giving him the boot in the game. Yes McKenzie was turning as Nesterov approached him, but even if he wasn't, it would have been a dangerous his along the boards. Brian Boyle picked up the third star with his strong play as an emergency defenseman for a period and a half. I'm sure you'll see some Boyle > Sustr comments on Twitter over the next few days.
The Lightning have dropped their last two games to potential playoff bound teams. Not quite a long enough stretch to panic, but they do need to make a good showing against Nashville next Tuesday. The good news is that the team has a pretty light schedule over the next week (Buffalo on Saturday, Nashville and then the Jets on Friday). Hopefully that will give their walking wounded a chance to heal up a bit and some practice time to fix whatever is broken on the penalty kill.
Jo or Johnny:
Johnathan Drouin had a heck of a game against Dallas. He set up both of Stamkos' goals and was a force in the offensive zone all night long. He is really gaining confidence on the ice. The two helpers put him at a team-leading 6 points (1 goal and 5 assists). Meanwhile in Alberta, Johnny Hockey has still only played 3 games so he still sits at 5 points (1 goal and 4 assists).