DALLAS — The Lightning knew bye weeks have been bad news for teams all season.
The record spoke for itself. Teams were 3-11-3 in their first game after their five-day break as the Lightning prepared to play the Stars on Saturday night. There had been blowouts, flat starts, you name it.
But the Lightning's 4-3 overtime loss to the Stars was different. Tampa Bay carried play for a good part of the game but blew two leads, including a 2-0 first-period advantage, and let another crucial point slip away.
The Lightning did earn a point for the fifth straight game, a season high. But turnovers, including a key one in overtime, prevented it from making headway in the Eastern Conference wild card race. The Panthers won late at the Kings to shuffle the standings, and the day ended with the Lightning six points behind the Bruins for the second wild card spot.
"We feel like we could have got two points," center Tyler Johnson said. "We played well enough. Little mental lapses here and there cost us. Quite frankly, turnovers killed us."
The Lightning (25-24-7) had its chances, outshooting the Stars 30-17 in the final two periods and overtime. But a Valtteri Filppula giveaway near the Stars' blue line with about one minute to go in overtime led to Jamie Benn's goal for Dallas, which won for just the second time this month.
"I tried to put the puck in deep, and it got stuck in (Benn's) skate," Filppula said.
The Lightning looked really good early, taking a 2-0 lead midway through the first. Victor Hedman, who had two goals for the first time this season, pounced on a rebound of a tipped point shot by rookie defenseman Jake Dotchin, who continues to impress. Then Johnson, who looked great in his return from a lower-body injury, cashed in on a rare power-play rush.
"I felt like I had some jump," said Johnson, who also had an assist.
But the Stars battled back. Antoine Roussel, who had a hat trick, racked up two goals in six minutes to tie the score in the first.
The Lightning power play came through again midway through the second. The team talked about having more of a simple, attack mentality with the man advantage, and it paid off. Hedman scored his second goal on a shot from above the circle for a 3-2 lead. It was the first time the Lightning scored multiple power-play goals in a game since Jan. 12 versus Buffalo.
But once again the Lightning couldn't hold on. Still, with the score tied at 3, Brayden Point had a chance to help it retake the lead midway through the third, getting behind the Stars' defense. But his shot clanked off the crossbar.
"If we capitalize on those chances, it's a different game," Point said.
The Lightning has to move on quickly. It can grab key points Sunday against one of the league's worst teams, Colorado.
"We've got to start getting two (points) instead of just one," coach Jon Cooper said. "But I can't sit here and say we didn't leave it all out there. Look at all these teams that come out of the break and not winning. I thought we gave ourselves every chance to win the game. Unfortunately, we didn't."
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First—1, Tampa Bay, Hedman 9 (Dotchin, Boyle), 3:07. 2, Tampa Bay, Johnson 17 (Point, Hedman), 11:59 (pp). 3, Dallas, Roussel 9 (Hamhuis, Seguin), 12:50. 4, Dallas, Roussel 10 (Eaves, Seguin), 18:50. Penalties—Tampa Bay bench, served by Namestnikov (too many men on the ice), 4:11; Lindell, DAL, (high sticking), 10:40.
Second—5, Tampa Bay, Hedman 10 (Palat, Johnson), 9:46 (pp). Penalties—Shore, DAL, (holding), 9:01; Coburn, TB, (holding), 10:16.
Third—6, Dallas, Roussel 11 (Sharp, Seguin), 4:40. Penalties—None.
OT—7, Dallas, Ja.Benn 20 (Eakin), 3:47. Penalties—None. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 7-15-11-4—37. Dallas 11-8-8-1—28. PP opportunities—Tampa Bay 2 of 2; Dallas 0 of 2. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Vasilevskiy 11-12-5 (28 shots-24 saves). Dallas, Lehtonen 13-18-6 (37-34).