Stars seek third straight victory in clash with Bolts
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Dallas Stars take aim at a third straight victory on Saturday afternoon as they play host to a Tampa Bay Lightning club that has struggled of late.
The Stars won their final game before the Olympic break, then opened things back up on Thursday with a 4-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Jamie Benn, fresh off helping Team Canada to a gold medal, had a short-handed goal and added two assists.
Cody Eakin, Brenden Dillon and Tyler Seguin also scored to help Dallas improve to 4-0-2 in its last six games. That has the Stars even with Vancouver for the second wild card spot in the Western Conference.
Kari Lehtonen was strong in net with 26 saves.
"He gave us some real big, timely saves," said Dallas head coach Lindy Ruff about Lehtonen. "Not a lot in the first 40 but there were some timely saves that kept them off the board. And I thought in the third there were a few more quality opportunities where they could have closed the gap on us but he shut the door."
Dallas has won the first two of a span of four straight and seven of eight at home. The Stars, though, have lost four of their last six at home versus the Lightning.
Tampa Bay is 5-1-2 in the past eight meetings overall and will host Dallas on April 5 for the second of two regular-season meetings.
Lehtonen is 11-7-3 in his career versus Tampa Bay with a 2.37 goals against average.
The Lightning have lost five of their past seven, dropping them into a tie with the Toronto Maple Leafs for third place in the Atlantic Division, two points back of Montreal.
Tampa picked up two first-period goals from Martin St. Louis on Thursday before eventually dropping a 3-2 decision to the Nashville Predators. The Bolts were outshot 21-7 over the final two periods.
"I'm really, really disappointed the way we played," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "Seven shots in the last two periods? This team is -- I love this team. We have a special group of guys in there and I'm just really shocked we did that."
Ben Bishop made 26 saves as the Lightning lost the opener of a four-game road trip. They will visit Colorado on Sunday.
Bishop has never faced the Stars and is being backed up Kristers Gudlevskis, who has yet to play an NHL game but did perform well for Team Latvia during the recent Olympics.
It is unknown if Gudlevskis will get into a game this weekend as goaltender Anders Lindback has begun a conditioning assignment as he recovers from an ankle injury.
Tampa Bay forward Valtteri Filppula was unable to play on Thursday due to an ankle injury suffered just before the Olympic break. He is day-to-day.
03/01 08:47:39 ET