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Lightning’s game Thursday night in Dallas postponed

The team remains in Tampa awaiting its next step after a winter storm creates massive power outages in the Dallas area.
A woman wrapped in a blanket crosses the street near downtown Dallas, Tuesday. Temperatures dropped into the single digits as snow shut down air travel and grocery stores.
A woman wrapped in a blanket crosses the street near downtown Dallas, Tuesday. Temperatures dropped into the single digits as snow shut down air travel and grocery stores. [ LM OTERO | AP ]
Published Feb. 17
Updated Feb. 17

TAMPA — With power issues caused by a winter storm in the Dallas area continuing, the Lightning’s road game against the Stars scheduled for Thursday at American Airlines Center has been postponed.

Stars’ home games against the Predators on Monday and Tuesday were previously postponed after Texas was hit with a rare winter snow storm and record-setting cold that shut down the power grid and left 3 million without power throughout the state.

A makeup date has yet to be announced, and it’s unclear whether the Lightning will play their game scheduled for Saturday night in Dallas, either. The decision was made after consultation with Dallas mayor Eric Johnson’s office, the NHL said.

American Airlines Center is on Dallas’ critical infrastructure power grid along with local hospitals and the city’s convention center — which is serving as a warmth shelter — so the mayor asked to halt games there until the situation improves. Temperatures in Dallas haven’t been above freezing since Saturday afternoon.

The league announced the postponement on Wednesday afternoon, 3½ hours before the Lightning were scheduled to fly to Dallas. The team remains in Tampa awaiting word on Saturday’s game and rescheduling.

Asked about the possibility of a postponement following Tuesday’s practice, Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he hadn’t heard anything to that point.

“We’re going ahead just like we’re playing Thursday night until we’re told otherwise,” he said, “but we haven’t been told anything yet.”

The series likely won’t be moved to Amalie Arena because it’s too late to play Thursday’s game locally, and the facility is booked on Friday and Saturday for a TobyMac concert.

It’s possible the Lightning could travel to Dallas to play on Friday and Saturday. But a decision would have to be made quickly because the Lightning would have to travel on Thursday. It’s uncertain whether the power situation in Dallas would get markedly better by then to play two games there on consecutive nights.

This is the third Lightning game against the Stars to be postponed already this season, delaying the team’s first meetings since Tampa Bay beat Dallas in six games in the Stanley Cup final.

The Lightning were scheduled to host the Stars on Jan. 17 and 19, but the start of Dallas’ season was delayed due to a coronavirus outbreak and those games were moved to May 4 and 10.

Because of those postponements and a road game against the Carolina Hurricanes being moved from Jan. 19 to Monday due to that team’s coronavirus issues, the Lightning played just four games in their first 15 days of the season.

Since then, the team has been able to get into the rhythm of the season, playing 10 games in 17 days over a stretch that ended with Monday’s 6-4 loss to the Panthers at Amalie Arena. Now, they face uncertainty again, unsure of when they will play next.

The more postponements, the more difficult it becomes to reschedule games without creating more back-to-backs or extending the regular season. Six Lightning games already have been altered, and one of the initially rescheduled games against Dallas extended the final game of the regular season from May 8 to May 10.

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at Follow @EddieInTheYard

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