Lightning hope for less tension in matchup with Stars

NHL Hockey
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Fleet-footed Anthony Cirelli came to the rescue for Tampa Bay on Tuesday night, but he isn’t quite sure that coach Jon Cooper is fond of overtime and its high stakes.

The Lightning will look for a less pressure-filled ending when they host the Dallas Stars on Thursday.

The situation became tense after the visiting Ottawa Senators scored twice to tie it 3-3 in the second period and Tampa Bay killed off four minutes of penalties by captain Steven Stamkos in the third to hang on in regulation.

Then the 22-year-old Cirelli let his physical tools take over in the extra session.

He stole the puck from the Senators’ Thomas Chabot as the defenseman moved in for a shot, pivoted and dashed past Chris Tierney in the neutral zone, then smoked Nick Paul — the Senators’ last skater before the goaltender in the three-on-three period.

Cirelli then pushed in his second career overtime winner before crashing into Ottawa goalie Marcus Hogberg as the home crowd roared and left Amalie Arena victorious for the third time in four games.

“Obviously for the fans, it’s a lot of fun to watch (overtime),” said Cirelli, who scored with only 19 seconds left in the five-minute session. “It’s also really fun to be a part of. Coaches don’t like the back and forth action, but it’s a fun way to end the game.”

Tampa Bay moved to 3-3 in overtime and got more than it likely expected from the Senators, who were picked last in the Eastern Conference by most of the hockey pundits.

The Senators were pasted 6-1 by Florida on Monday and watched the match get away from them in the Panthers’ five-goal second period against goalie Anders Nilsson.

The Lightning’s game against Dallas is the second in a stretch in which they play four games in seven days.

Nikita Kucherov and Tyler Johnson returned to the lineup on Tuesday, and while Kucherov potted the game’s first tally, he was benched by Cooper for most of the third period and all of overtime after his turnover led to a breakaway goal by Anthony Duclair.

“As a coach you have to make decisions and what was best for us to win tonight,” Cooper said when asked about benching the Hart Trophy winner.

There’s a strong likelihood that Dallas will start No. 1 goalie Ben Bishop (12-7-3, 2.07 goals-against average) against his former club Thursday.

Bishop played in 227 games for the Lightning from 2012-17, setting a franchise record for appearances that Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy broke earlier this month.

Tyler Seguin snapped an 11-goal drought without a goal in Monday’s 2-1 home loss to the Edmonton Oilers.

The dynamic Seguin cut the lead in half with a late marker in the third period, but the Oilers shut down Dallas’ bid to win in their third contest in four nights.

The Stars (4-1-1 in last six) committed far too many penalties and stayed in the box while having to defend the NHL’s top-ranked power play, which interim coach Rick Bowness admitted was a problem with the lack of offensive production.

Dallas killed five of six Edmonton power plays.

“The penalty kill was really good,” Bowness said. “That’s the No. 1 power play in the league and taking six penalties is not part of the program. It had a big bearing on the outcome of the game.

“We did a good job of killing, but it destroyed the rhythm of our team.”

–Field Level Media

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