The Tampa Bay Lightning and Dallas Stars prepare to play the second game of a mini-series that features the two teams in last season's Stanley Cup Final. The Lightning took the first game 2-1 and the game was a reminder of how both teams responded to reaching the Cup. The Lightning continues to look like the best team in the NHL while the Dallas Stars have stumbled out of the gate this season and might be looking to trade away key players at the deadline.
Tampa continues to dominateThe Lightning has won their last five games to give them a clear lead in the Central Division and put them on track to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions. The big reason for the repeated success has been the great play of goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, saving .933 percent of shots and allowing only 1.8 goals per game to make him the clear front-runner for the Vezina Trophy. In addition to Vasilevskiy's play, the defense has also done a great job with Victor Hedman contributing 2.7 defensive point shares and 50 blocked shots and the pairing of Erik Cernak and Mikhail Sergachev combining for 4.1 defensive point shares.
While the defense is playing incredibly this season, allowing only 2.2 goals per game, the offense is finding scoring throughout their lineup with 10 skaters having 6 goals or more this season. Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point have led the way combining for 29 goals this season but Yanni Gourde and Ondrej Palat have scored 12 and 11 goals respectively to give the Lightning 4 skaters with 10 goals or more. In addition, defenseman Victor Hedman has been a force from the point, with 6 goals and a team-leading 27 assists.
Stars struggle to find offenseThe Dallas Stars once again struggled to generate any offense as they only scored one goal in the recent defeat to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Scoring 2.7 goals per game, it has become clear that the Dallas Stas weakness this season has been their inability to generate any type of offense. Aside from Joe Pavelski, who has 14 goals this season, the Stars have yet to find another skate to crack the 10-goal mark on the season.
While the offense has played poorly, the defense has kept the Stars in games, allowing only 2.4 goals per game. Miro Heiskanen and Esa Lindell have combined for 3.5 defensive point shares and 70 blocked shots while the trio of Jamie Olesiak, John Klingberg, and Andrej Sekera have combined for 3.9 defensive point shares. In addition, the goaltending duo of Anton Khudobin and Jake Oettinger has been playing well for Dallas, allowing fewer than 2.4 goals per game and saving .911 percent of shots.