Lightning 4, Stars 2
Tuesday, 06.19.2012 / 12:39 AM
Hockey is back!
In the first action of the 2010-11 season, two goals by Adam Hall led the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 4-2 victory over the Dallas Stars Tuesday night at the American Airlines Center.
Trailing 2-0 going into the third period, the Stars mounted a valiant comeback effort, as young roster hopefuls Aaron Gagnon
and Philip Larsen
scored goals, but in the end, the Lightning came out on top.
Following a three-day immersion of training camp in Canada, the Stars returned to the Metroplex Monday and quickly started their six-game exhibition season with some rust to be worked off.
Still, coach Marc Crawford was encouraged by some of what he saw in his club’s first effort of the year, which typically has a tendency to be a bit sloppy.
“There were some positive things in the game for us - I like the way we got after them in the third period,” Crawford said. “I liked the way we forechecked. We got a good working effort tonight from some people. Maybe our execution wasn’t at a high level, but we got a good working effort. I was semi-pleased with what we were looking to evaluate. Obviously, your execution, you’d want that to be at a higher level.”
This contest also featured the first chance to look at the battle for the Stars backup goaltending job, with both Andrew Raycroft
and Brent Krahn
coming up with pretty good performances.
“It was a saw-off,” Crawford said of the competition. “I liked a few things that both of them did and I didn’t like a few things both of them did. We got a couple of weeks to really see what they can do, but tonight, it was a saw-off.”
In his first action in a Dallas Stars sweater, Raycroft looked strong, stopping 16 of 18 shots in 30:42 of action before Krahn took over for the second half of the contest. Krahn finished the night with 11 saves on 13 shots.
“All in all, I felt good, I felt like I moved good, and did some good things,” said Raycroft, who signed with the Stars as a free agent on July 1. “It was good to get in there and get going. With pre-season games, you never really know what you’re going to get or what to expect. I think we did some good things tonight. Obviously, there’s two and a half more weeks to get work done.”
“I felt good in there,” said Krahn, who helped the AHL Texas Stars advance to the Calder Cup Finals last season. “I’d like to get the win, we were down 2-0 in the third period and come back, it’s too bad that I gave up two goals. Guys are working hard and it was fun.”
Down by two heading into the final period, the Stars got one back just 1:19 in on an outstanding individual effort by Gagnon. Carrying the puck into the Tampa zone, Gagnon slipped around Lightning defenseman Mathieu Roy with a slick move behind his back to his backhand, before beating goaltender Dan Ellis with a scorching backhander just inside the left post.
“I just kind of picked it up at the blue line, and I just tried to fake and go wide and throw it on net and good things happen,” said Gagnon, who is making a strong bid to win a spot on the Dallas roster after leading AHL Texas in scoring last year.
Tampa Bay restored their two-goal advantage at 3:39 when Adam Hall notched his second of the night. Krahn made a nice skate save on Dana Tyrell’s shot from the left circle, but the rebound went right to the charging Hall, who drilled it into the open side of the net.
Dallas pulled to within 3-2 at 7:17 on Larsen’s goal. After receiving a pretty cross-ice pass from Tomas Vincour
on the right sideboards, Larsen found himself alone in the slot and fired a quick wrist shot over Ellis’ glove.
“I saw we had the puck in our zone and I saw I had a chance to go join the rush,” Larsen said of the play. “I got a really nice pass by Tomas Vincour
and it opened up the whole thing for me. It’s always fun to score a goal and it’s always special, the first one, so that was a lot of fun.”
“He scored a great goal,” Crawford agreed. “He’s giving you a glimpse of what he can do and what he can be and it’s exactly what we want, how he filled the lane and how he got up on the rush. He did it two or three other guys in the game as well.”
The Lightning put the final nail in with 9:05 left when Mattias Ohlund’s slap shot from the left point found its way through a maze of feet and past Krahn to make it 4-2.
“I didn’t see it, I don’t know exactly what happened,” Krahn said of the goal. “I knew he was shooting the puck, I could see him, but I couldn’t see the shot. I don’t think I played that one the way I’d like to.”
The Stars had one last premium opportunity to get close after Tampa’s Steve Downie entered the penalty box with 1:31 remaining. The Stars pulled Krahn for an extra attacker, giving them a 6-on-4 advantage.
While Dallas maintained pressure in the offensive zone the whole time and had a few close calls, such as Gagnon’s deflection in front of the net that sailed just wide with 48 seconds to go, they were unable to find the back of the net again.
“I think we tried really hard and of course, you got to give them some credit too, they blocked a lot of shots,” Larsen said of the late push. “We maybe got to work a little more to get our shots through, especially our D-men, but I think we battled pretty hard out there. Overall, I think we tried really hard and there were a lot of good things, some bad things and that’s pretty normal for the first game.”
The first pre-season game started off with a bang, with the first fight of the year taking place just 1:30 in, as Brian Sutherby
squared off with Tampa’s Matt Smaby and clearly had the advantage.
Dallas surrendered the first goal of the year at 4:44 of the opening period when Hall popped a loose puck past Raycroft from in front. Raycroft stopped the initial wrist shot from the right point by Roy through a screen, but the rebound bounced out to Tyrell, whose follow-up shot deflected off Dallas defender Brad Lukowich
in front and bounced right to a wide open Hall staring at nothing but net.
Immediately following the ensuing face-off at center ice, Stars hopeful Francis Wathier
dropped the gloves with Hall in the second fight of the young season.
Trailing 1-0 entering the second period, the Stars nearly evened it up at 3:17 when Gagnon sped in on a partial breakaway, but Ellis, a former Star, denied his deke attempt.
The Lightning extended their lead to two less than three minutes later, when Ryan Malone carried into the right corner before feeding a backhand pass out front, where Dominic Moore, despite being well-covered by Matt Niskanen
, managed to re-direct it over Raycroft at 6:31.
Just 21 seconds after that goal, fight number four of the night saw Wathier, who racked up 101 penalty minutes last year for AHL Texas, drop the gloves a second time, this one with Tampa’s Scott Jackson.
With the Lightning enjoying an 18-8 edge in shots on goal, and a 2-0 lead on the scoreboard, Krahn came in to replace Raycroft with 9:18 left in the period.
About two minutes later, Tampa Bay almost went up by three, but Tyrell’s wrist shot from the left face-off circle clanked off the crossbar.
The Stars will now get back to work in practice at their primary facility at the Dr Pepper Arena in Frisco until taking on the Colorado Avalanche in their next pre-season contest Friday night at the American Airlines Center (7:30 pm start).