They didn’t play well and it took three goal reversals, but the Tampa Bay Lightning did what they had to do and beat the Dallas Stars 6-3 last night at Amalie Arena.
The Lightning (39-29-10) are 5-0-1 in their past six games. They begin a three-game road trip Tuesday against the Bruins, who hold second place in the Atlantic Division. They are four points ahead of the Bolts.
Adam Erne kept chugging away and finally got some results as he scored twice, and Ondrej Palat, Braydon Coburn, Brayden Point and Anton Stralman each netted a goal. Peter Budaj made 23 saves for his third win with the Lightning.
For the first time in nine games the Lightning scored first. The lone goal of the first period was scored by rookie Adam Erne when he made a great power move around the Stars defense and beat Kari Lehtonen far post for his second of the year at 11:27. Yanni Gourde (2) and Andrej Sustr (10) picked up the assists. Gourde now has points in four consecutive games.
First period shots were 9-8 in favor of Dallas.
Dallas tied the game early in the second period as Gemel Smith redirected an Esa Lindell low and hard slapshot past a screened Peter Budaj at 1:49 for his third of the season. Budaj was screened by Tyler Johnson.
Gemel Smith thought he made it 2-1 Dallas on a shorthanded goal at 4:30, but the goal was challenged for offsides by the Lightning video coaches Nigel Kirwan and Brian Garlockas and was overturned.
Defenseman Braydon Coburn tied the game at two with only 18 seconds left in the second period. Coburn’s fourth of the year was assisted by Anton Stralman (15) and Ondrej Palat (31). Coburn pounced on a rebound of a Stralman shot and beat Lehtonen.
Jason Garrison playing in his first game back after an injury absence sustained a lower body injury in the second period and did not return.
Shots through 40 minutes were 16-14 in favor of the Stars.
The Bolts went up 5-2 when Adam Erne scored a power play goal, his second of the game and third of the season on a spinning shot that beat Lehtonen five hole. Vladislav Namestnikov (17) and Tyler Johnson (26) earned the assists.
Dallas pulled within two as Brett Ritchie scored his 15th, beating Budaj with 3:20 to go.
The puck was high-sticked into the net by Tyler Seguin. No goal.
Dallas had another goal waived off after initial attempt knocked Budaj’s mask off before the rebound went into the net.
Anton Stralman scored an empty netter to end it. The goal was his fifth of the season.
The Lightning hung on to win 6-3. Shots ended up 26-25 in favor of the Stars.
Four games remaining. Four points behind Boston going into Tuesday’s match up with the Bruins.
“I don’t think it was our greatest game tonight but we found a way.” – Adam Erne.
“We want to contribute. We don’t just want to be passengers on a run like this.” – Adam Erne on the rookies.
“That was the discussion was do you want to give yourself a chance to play past next Sunday?” – Coach Jon Cooper on their improvement in the third period.
“We had to win. We couldn’t just fold.” – Brayden Point.
“We wouldn’t be where we are without these guys,” – Coach Jon Cooper on the rookies.
“I thought he was a man-child out there in the third.” – Coach Jon Cooper on Ondrej Palat.
Cooper said Garrison was getting tired, “Might have been a re-aggravation.” We’ll see how he is Monday.
Tampa Bay will travel to Boston to take on the Bruins on Tuesday at 7:00 PM.