Thursday evening on the ice and the Central Division will square off with the Atlantic Division as the Dallas Stars grapple with the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. The Stars are off a 4-3 shootout loss to the Panthers on the road, while the Lightning are off a 2-1 road win over Anaheim. Goalie Probables: Ben Bishop will get the nod for the Stars in this one and the Lightning will counter with Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Stars Have Struggled On The Road
The Dallas Stars have not been playing well of late overall, but they have really struggled on the road. They have gone just 3-7 away from home so far, including 0-3 their last three. They have scored a total of three goals in those three road losses. This is the final game of a three-game road trip and they lost game one of the trip at Carolina by a score of 5-1 and followed that up with a 4-3 shootout loss to Florida. Now they have to try and get back on track against the best team in the league. It will not be easy, especially with a struggling offense, Scoring in the loss to the Panthers was Jamie Benn, who scored twice and now has 10 on the year and Remi Elie, which was his 2nd of the year. Taking the loss against the Panthers was Kari Lehtonen, who allowed three goals on 29 shot attempts to fall to 2-4 with a 2.48 GAA and a .910 save percentage on the year. Ben Bishop will be back in the crease for this one and he has gone 7-5 with a 2.67 GAA and a .908 save percentage on the year, including 2-4 with a 3.90 GAA and .,879 save percentage on the road. In his career, he has gone 63-61 with a 23.48 GAA on the road and 24-19 with a 2.18 GAA during the month of November, plus he is 59-31 with a 2.16 GAA against the Atlantic Division, including 1-1 with a 4.01 GAA against his former team.
Dallas has been below average on offense so far as they come in ranked 19th in the league in scoring at 2.83 gpg, while also ranking 16th in shots taken (31.9 spg) and 1st in power play conversions, converting on 30.2% of their chances. At the defensive end of the ice, they have been average as they come in ranked 15th in goals allowed, giving up 2.83 gpg, while also ranking 1st in shots allowed (28.7 spg) and 6th in penalty kill, allowing teams to convert on 15.4 of their chances.
The Lightning Continue To Roll
The Tampa Bay Lightning have the most points in the league at 30 and they have a six-point lead over the Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division. They have really played well this year and they come in riding a four-game win streak and they beat Columbus at home and San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim on the road in those four games, so it’s not like they were beating up on creampuffs. This is the best team in the league right now and they look to keep it going against a Dallas Team that has struggled on the road. Their last game was a 2-1 win over the Ducks and scoring for the Bolts in that game was Vladislav Namestnikov, which was his 4th in his last three games and 9th of the year and J.T. Brown, which was his 1st of the year. The Lightning have gone 7-2 at home so far. Grabbing the win against the Ducks was Andrei Vasilevskiy, who stopped 28 of the 29 shots that he faced to improve to 13-2 with a 2.321 GAA and a .930 save percentage on the year, while here at home he has gone 7-1 with a 2.46 GAA and a .923 save percentage. In his career he has gone 31-17 with a 2.62 GAA in his home games and 9-6 with a 2.05 GAA during the month of November, while against the Central Division he has gone 9-7 with a 3.04 GAA, including 2-1 with a 3.59 GAA against the Stars.
Tampa Bay comes in ranked 1st in the league in scoring at 3.89 gpg, while also ranking 12th in shots taken (32.4 spg) and 2nd in power play conversions, converting on 28.6% of their chances. At the defensive end of the ice, they have been very solid so far as they come in ranked 3rd in goals allowed, giving up just 2.50 gpg, while also ranking 18th in shots allowed (32.1 spg) and 8th in penalty kill, allowing teams to convert on 15.9% of their chances.
- 8-19 in their last 27 in the third game of a 3-in-4 situation
- 15-36 in their last 51 road games
Tampa Bay is:
- 13-3 in their last 16 after scoring two goals or less in their previous game
- 6-1 in their last seven vs. the Western Conference
The Dallas Stars have not played well on the road this year, while the Lightning have played well at home and they have the best record in the league. Can the Stars pull the upset here? They have won nine of their last 13 games here in Tampa and the Lightning are off a west coast trip. Still, the Lightning have had a few days off from the end of that trip and they are clearly the far better team here, plus they would like to hang an L on Ben Bishop, who was on the team last year. The home team is 4-1 the last five games in this series and I look for the Bolts to come out on top of a Dallas team that just can’t win on the road right now.