The Dallas Stars got back on the right path, defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 5-1 on Sunday.
It was the ninth victory of the season for Dallas, eight of which have come by three or more goals (the lone outlier was a 2-0 shutout over Washington). But on Tuesday, the Stars will face a different type of test. A battle with the most dominant team in the 2020s, the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The rivalry between these clubs started in the bubble during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Stars were closing in on a fantastic finish to a Cinderella run, only to be stopped short by the Lightning in six games of the final round. Since then, things have felt different when these two take the same ice.
In the 2020-21 season following the bubble, Tampa Bay owned Dallas. The Stars went 2-6-0 against their foes, playing in the same division during a wacky 56-game season. Tampa ended up winning their second-straight Championship, while Dallas missed the postseason.
In 2021-22, Dallas went 1-1-0 against the Bolts. But Tampa still ended up in the Cup Final (although on the losing end), while the Stars bowed out in the first round.
So far this season, however, the Stars have the upper hand…but not by much.
Dallas got off to their best start since 2015-16 and currently sits second in the Central Division, fourth in the West, and eighth overall with a 9-5-1 record. Outside of a two-game skid on the road, the season has been near perfect.
Tampa has also played well this season. They are currently second in their division and hold a slightly worse 8-6-1 record, with one loss separating the two clubs. But the Bolts are riding high, with points in seven of their last 10 (6-3-1).
No Andrei, no problem.
Okay, so this may not be true. But with the Lightning expected to start backup Brian Elliot rather than the best goaltender in the league in Andrei Vasilevsky, the chances for a Dallas victory certainly increase.
In 17 career games against the Stars, Vasilevsky holds a 12-2-3 record. Not impressive enough for you? How about his .934 save percentage and 1.81 goals-against average?
In 2021, the ‘Big Cat’ went 6-1-0 against Dallas, holding an elite .950 save percentage and shutting out the Stars three times. Anytime #88 is not listed as a starter in the opponent's net, a collective sigh of relief is breathed.
Elliot, on the other hand, has been very beatable this season, at least in terms of goals. Despite his poor numbers (.895% and 3.27 GAA), the 37-year-old holds a respectable 3-1-0 record.
Lineup Notes: Denis Gurianov skated this morning in Tampa but is not ready to make his return.
Starting goaltender: Jake Oettinger is expected to make his second start since returning from injury. He is 1-1-0 and still holds the league's best numbers in save percentage (.938) and goals-against average (1.80) overall.
Stars Projected Lines
- Jason Robertson- Roope Hintz- Joe Pavelski
- Mason Marchment- Tyler Seguin- Matej Blumel
- Jamie Benn- Wyatt Johnston- Ty Dellandrea
- Joel Kiviranta- Radek Faksa- Luke Glendening
- Miro Heiskanen- Colin Miller
- Ryan Suter- Nils Lundkvist
- Esa Lindell- Jani Hakanpaa
- Jake Oettinger
- Scott Wedgewood
Sam’s Three Keys
- Test Elliot early and often
- Stay out of the box
- Get Tyler Seguin back on the board (one goal in last 11 games)