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Playoff-hopeful Stars aim to rebound in Tampa
(SportsNetwork.com) - Two teams seeking a rebound effort will do battle on Saturday night as they Dallas Stars resume their five-game road trip against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Stars are fighting for a wild card spot in the Western Conference and had netted 16 goals over a three-game winning streak before losing a 4-1 decision to the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday.
Dallas is one point behind the Phoenix Coyotes for the final playoff berth with 85 points and has two games in hand. The Stars also own a second tiebreaker over the Coyotes with four more non-shootout wins.
The Coyotes are idle today after gaining a point in Friday's home shootout loss against Edmonton.
Tyler Seguin had Dallas' lone goal on Thursday, his 34th of the season, but netminder Kari Lehtonen was pulled midway through the second period after letting up three goals on 16 shots. Tim Thomas halted 15-of-16 chances in relief.
"I didn't like the fact that we weren't able to kill off a couple penalties," said Stars head coach Lindy Ruff.
The Stars will wrap their road trip this weekend with tonight's game and Sunday's contest at the Florida Panthers, but could be without veteran forward Ray Whitney. He left Saturday's contest early with a lower-body injury.
Lehtonen and Thomas may both see action this weekend and Ruff could opt to go with Thomas on Sunday versus the Panthers, who the netminder began the season with before getting acquired by Dallas in a trade.
Lehtonen is 11-8-3 with a 2.45 goals against average and two shutouts in his career versus the Lightning, while Thomas is 12-5-0 with a 2.36 GAA against them.
The Lightning have already secured a trip to the postseason, but have lost two of their last three. They followed up a big victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday with a 4-1 setback to the Calgary Flames two nights later.
Tampa Bay is two points behind the Canadiens for second place in the Atlantic Division, but the Bolts do hold a game in hand over the Habs. Montreal hosts the Detroit Red Wings tonight after earning a win in Ottawa on Friday.
The Lightning yielded two goals in a 15-second span in the first period versus the Flames, though they got within a goal on Ondrej Palat's second-period marker.
Ben Bishop yielded three goals on 24 shots.
"You don't want to shorten the hockey game," said Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper said. "The game had a 7:30 start, I think we started the game at 8:10."
Bishop has faced the Stars just once before and got the win, stopping 39-of-41 shots in a 4-2 road win on March 1. It was Tampa Bay's third victory in a row over Dallas.
Lehtonen yielded all four goals on 21 shots for the Stars.
Dallas has lost its past two trips to Tampa following an eight-game series road winning streak.
04/05 11:12:00 ET