Lightning tops Stars

Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy in goal during the second period of Thursday night's game against the Stars in Dallas. [Associated Press]
Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy in goal during the second period of Thursday night's game against the Stars in Dallas. [Associated Press]
Published Feb. 6, 2015

DALLAS — Center Brian Boyle said Lightning players were "pretty angry" after the second period Thursday night.

They were ticked off that the Stars had four power plays before Tampa Bay had its first. They were frustrated that they lost focus and gave up a two-goal lead in 15 seconds.

Boyle said captain Steven Stamkos "made his presence felt" at intermission, and his teammates responded.

"He said he knew we had better," Boyle said, smiling, "and a few other things."

The Lightning delivered, holding on for a 5-3 win at American Airlines Center. Tyler Johnson scored the winner with 3:37 left, his second of the game. Rookie goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy stepped up with 33 saves to pick up his fourth win in five NHL starts.

"If we were to lose a game like that, it would be demoralizing for us," Johnson said. "For us to get the lead again, it showed a lot of character with the guys."

The Lightning blew a late lead in Tuesday's 2-1 overtime loss in St. Louis and believed it deserved a better fate. This game wasn't easy either, with Tampa Bay (33-15-5) surrendering two leads. And it played the second half of the game short a defenseman after Jason Garrison left with a lower-body injury. His status was unknown.

"It was a little nerve-racking," said Boyle, who played a few shifts on the blue line. "But guys stepped up."

Vasilevskiy, 20, called up Sunday to replace waived Evgeni Nabokov, kept the Lightning in it. He wasn't perfect but made huge saves at the right time.

"When Dallas started buzzing," coach Jon Cooper said, "he was the calm in the storm."

Said Johnson: "That kid deserved the first star for sure."

The game started off well for Tampa Bay; it scored on its first two shots on goal. Just over three minutes in, Stamkos took a whack at a deflected shot from the point and put the puck past goalie Kari Lehtonen for his 28th goal. About four minutes later, Stamkos sparked another score, making a power move around the net before finding defenseman Victor Hedman, who ripped a slap shot from the point.

But the Stars have a quick-strike offense, and they flashed it late in the second period, tying the score by scoring twice in 15 seconds. Defenseman John Klingberg started it by beating Vasilevskiy with a wrist shot from the right circle with about five minutes left. Then, after Hedman fell down at center ice, the Stars went on a three-on-one, with Vernon Fiddler making a floating pass in the crease, and Alex Goligoski tipping in the puck.

The Lightning finally scored a big power-play goal, Johnson's with seven minutes left for a 3-2 lead. "It was huge," he said. But it didn't last long. Trevor Daley beat Vasilevskiy with a wrist shot 1:14 later. After Johnson scored the winner, Nikita Kucherov tallied an empty-netter, his first goal in 14 games.

The team had heeded Stamkos' message.

"That's what leaders do," Boyle said. "We all fell in line."

Lightning 2 0 3 5
Stars 0 2 1 3
Lightning 2 0 3 5
Stars 0 2 1 3

First Period1, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 28 (Callahan, Barberio), 3:11. 2, Tampa Bay, Hedman 6 (Stamkos), 6:42. PenaltiesSustr, TB (hooking), 4:18; Filppula, TB (tripping), 12:31.

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Second Period3, Dallas, Klingberg 10 (Seguin, Goligoski), 15:21. 4, Dallas, Goligoski 2 (Fiddler, Horcoff), 15:36. PenaltiesWitkowski, TB (delay of game), 3:50; Roussel, Dal (delay of game), 3:50; Hedman, TB (hooking), 8:55; Hedman, TB (interference), 17:20; Cole, Dal (tripping), 19:10.

Third Period5, Tampa Bay, Johnson 18 (Kucherov, Killorn), 12:27 (pp). 6, Dallas, Daley 13 (Ja.Benn, Demers), 13:41. 7, Tampa Bay, Johnson 19 (Boyle, Palat), 16:23. 8, Tampa Bay, Kucherov 18 (Palat), 18:43 (en). PenaltiesDemers, Dal (elbowing), 1:23; Goligoski, Dal (tripping), 10:36. Shots on GoalTampa Bay 7-6-16—29. Dallas 11-17-8—36. Power-play opportunitiesTampa Bay 1 of 3; Dallas 0 of 4. GoaliesTampa Bay, Vasilevskiy 4-1-0 (36 shots-33 saves). Dallas, Lehtonen 21-12-8 (28-24).