Sharp Effort, Good Goaltending, Mark Pre-Season Opener
Last night’s game in Dallas may have been a meaningless pre-season game for some, but don’t tell that to the squad of mostly rookies which gave a veteran group of Dallas Stars all they could handle for three periods and five minutes of overtime before Brad Richards beat Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Juroslav Janus in the third round of the shootout to win the contest, 4-3.
The game was a see-saw battle in which both teams combined for a total of 24 penalties which resulted in 60 minutes of penalty time. Tampa Bay ended the night converting one of nine power play opportunities, while the Stars finished with two power play goals gathered from nine extra man chances.
Dallas got on the scoreboard at 9:28 of the first period when, with Lightning center Jeff Halpern in the penalty box for high-sticking, Dallas forward Loui Eriksson picked up a rebound and backhanded the puck passed Tampa Bay starting netminder Antero Nittymaki.
Brad Richards stretched the Dallas lead to two goals at 18:51 when his slap shot from 11 feet found the back of the net. The goal was the second power play score of the night for the Stars.
Todd Fedoruk brought the Lightning back to within one goal at 5:45 of the second period when he beat Dallas starting netminder Marty Turco with a wrist shot to the short side. Brett Mclean assisted on the score.
McLean, a free-agent skating in his first game as a Tampa Bay Lightning, knotted the score at two apiece with just 29 seconds remaining in the second period. The goal, a tip-in of a shot by defenseman Kurtis Foster, was the only power play goal for Tampa Bay on the night. Steve Downie also earned an assist on the score.
At the start of the third period, Nittymaki made way in the net for Jaroslav Janus, and the sixth round selection in this year’s entry draft put on an impressive display, allowing only one goal the rest of the way while facing 11 shots.
The Lightning collected their third unanswered goal with 5:55 gone in the final period as Blair Jones converted a wrist shot from in front of the crease to give the Lighting a 3-2 lead. Halpern and Drew Miller assisted.
The Stars came back to tie the game with only 3:14 remaining to be played as forward James Neal found the back of the Lightning net with a wrist shot.
Each team had an opportunity with the extra man in the five minute overtime, but neither team could find the winning goal.
It fell to the shootout to decide the outcome, and Richards put the finishing touches on the night when, in the third round of the shootout, his wrist shot got past Janus for the 4-3 Dallas win.
Despite the loss, there was much for Coach Rick Tocchet and his staff to feel positive about:
Nittymaki, making his first appearance for the Lightning, and the eighteen-year old Janus were both sharp in goal, with Nittymaki stopping 13 of 15 shots while Janus tracked down 10 of 11 shots he faced.
The Lightning recorded 24 shots on net, with Foster collecting a team-high four. Tampa Bay defenseman Matt Smaby led both teams with five blocked shots.
So the Lightning return home, with one pre-season game down and six more to come, including the only pre-season game scheduled for the St. Pete Times Forum, Friday night against the Atlanta Thrashers.
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