TAMPA — Nothing comes easy, does it?
With a 3-1 lead after two periods and the Lightning consistently setting up shop in the Dallas zone while building what would be a 48-20 shots on goal advantage, it appeared as though they would win consecutive games at Amalie Arena for the first time since prior to Thanksgiving.
Alas, it was not to be. For the second straight game a 3-1 lead evaporated and, unlike Tuesday night against Ottawa, Tampa Bay would lose in overtime to the Stars, 4-3, on Thursday night.
“I thought we played very well tonight,” said coach Jon Cooper. “They didn’t have many chances and it seemed like they capitalized on every one. We just didn’t capitalize near enough on ours.”
Tyler Johnson certainly failed to capitalize on his prime opportunity during overtime. From low in the left-wing circle Johnson shanked a shot wide to the short side with Dallas goalie Anton Khudobin out of position and scrambling to get back toward the net.
Alexander Radulov sent the loose puck up along the boards with Tyler Seguin corralling it at the Tampa Bay blue line and found himself on a two-on-one. From the left-wing circle he deposited a wrister far side over Andrei Vasilevskiy’s glove.
The Lightning certainly had plenty of chances to pull away well before then. However, Khudobin, who started instead of former Tampa Bay netminder Ben Bishop, had a superb game in stopping many high-quality opportunities.
Brayden Point was the Lightning’s only skater to not register a shot on goal. The distribution was pretty even throughout as nine players had at least three shots on goal, but none more than six.
Tampa Bay built its lead after Dallas scored on its lone powerplay of the evening on a goal by Radulov at 4:09 of the opening period.
The Lightning got a couple of quick powerplay opportunities and capitalized on both with Mikhail Sergachev blasting a shot off Khudobin’s glove at 12:58 and Alex Killorn redirecting a Nikita Kucherov — 20:54 of ice time to lead Tampa Bay forwards — right-wing circle feed into an empty cage at 15:24.
The lead increased to 3-1 when a Sergachev shot deflected off Ondrej Palat and past Khudobin at 3:22 of the second period.
At the end of two periods Tampa Bay’s shots on goal advantage was 31-13 and swelled to 37-14 early in the third.
“In those situations when we are up 3-1, we have to find a way to close those games out,” said Killorn. “Good teams find a way to do that. It was kind of slipping a way and we are making things hard on ourselves.”
The Stars came within one on a goal by Radek Faksa at 17:57 of the middle period and got the equalizer at 15:42 of the third courtesy Jason Dickinson, who pounced on a loose puck after Vasilevskiy failed to handle an Andrew Cogliano shot. That set the stage for the extra session when Seguin completed the comeback.
“The bright side is we got a point against a Western Conference team,” said Cooper. “We feel pretty good about our game and if we continue to play the way we are playing right now, it will be two points instead of one.”
With the loss, the Lightning not only failed to win consecutive home games for the first time since November 23 and 25 against Anaheim and Buffalo, respectively, but fell to 9-7-2 on home ice.
Tampa Bay, which is 17-12-4 overall, heads to D.C. to play the Capitals on Saturday night.