Originally written on Stars of Big D  |  Last updated 1/20/12

Tampa Bay Lightning (18-23-4, 40 pts) @ Dallas Stars (24-19-2, 50 pts)

7:30 PM CT, January 20, 2012

American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas

Struggle, struggle, struggle. That's the name of the game right now for Dallas. Down their top two centers and at the edge of the playoff picture, Dallas has struggled to get points in the past week. Since Jan. 20, Dallas has managed to get only 3 out of 10 points (1-3-1) and find themselves tied with two other teams for the 10th spot in the Western Conference. These close races are mighty stressful no?

Dallas has been playing solid hockey but just haven't had enough offense (or luck) to win in the last week. They've lost each of the last three games by only one goal (the last one a shootout) so this team is definitely trying, but sometimes effort just isn't enough. In all truth, Dallas probably should have beaten the Wings but Alex Goligoski's series of unfortunate events led to an own goal going off his skate.

At first blush, this game looks like something that the Stars should definitely win, but then again this is a team that's gotten beaten up by the Blue Jackets and Ducks recently and the Lightning are a very potent offensive team. Kari Lehtonen needs to play well again tonight against the likes of Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. I would say that Dallas needs to keep this score low to win this game, but Tampa has a terrible defense so this could be a shootout.

These two teams played once last year in Tampa, a game that the Lightning won 5-4.

Lehtonen should be getting the start tonight, the first game of another back-to-back.

Dallas will be without their offense in Jamie Benn (appendectomy) and Mike Ribeiro (knee). Philip Larsen was just activated off of IR so he might play in this game, but there's not really a spot in the lineup for him right now unless Dallas goes with 7 defensemen.

more after the jump

 

Lightning:

If you're ever looking for a team that is all offense and no defense, look no further. Tampa is the epitome of that mindset this year. They currently rank 10th in the NHL in goals and 30th in the league in goals allowed. You have to look deeper than just those stats though. The Lightning have crazy home/road splits that shows how the Lightning are basically two different teams based on where they play.

At home this season (20 games), Tampa has 70 goals and has allowed 63. On the road (25 games), they have scored only 54 and allowed a mind-blowing 93 goals (93!). That's by far the most allowed in the NHL by any team. The goal horn should see some good action tonight.

Injuries have played a part of this, but the goalie duo of Mathieu Garon and Dwayne Roloson are just both terrrrrrible this season. 38 goalies have gotten at least 20 starts this year including both of the Lightning goalies. Garon and Roloson both rank in the bottom 6 in the league in terms of GAA and SV% among these 38 goalies. In fact, Roloson is dead last in both of these categories so let's all cross our fingers and hope he gets the start.

Luckily for Tampa, they have Stamkos or this might have turned into one of the worst seasons in the history of the league. Stamkos sits 3rd in scoring in the NHL (3 points behind Evgeni Malkin) and leads all players in goals with 31, five ahead of Jonathan Toews. Like the rest of his team though, he doesn't play as well on the road. He has 13 goals on the road in 25 games compared to 18 goals at home in 20 games. Shut him down though and Tampa goes absolutely nowhere.

Tampa enters this game off a 5-3 win against the Bruins, their first win this month. They are 1-6-1 in their last eight games. They have allowed at least four goals in six of those games.

Who starts in goal for this team? Doesn't matter, goals will be scored.

Tampa has a slew of injuries. Defensemen Victor Hedman (concussion) and Marc-Andre Bergeron (back) are out for this game. Also out are forwards: Adam Hall (torn muscle in arm), Ryan Shannon (lower body) while Tom Pratt is doubtful with a lower-body injury.

Notes and thoughts:

  • The Lightning are 6-16-3 on the road this year. They have lost 6 straight games on the road. Garon is 4-9-2 on the road while Roloson is 2-7-1.
  • Tampa is also second worst in the league in terms of goal differential (-33). Only the Blue Jackets are worse.
  • Stamkos has at least a point in 9 of his last 10 games.
  • Vincent Lecavlier has muliple points in four of his last five games and at least one point in seven of his last eight.
  • In their last 11 road games, the Lightning are 2 of 39 (5%) on the PP and 32 of 45 (71%) on the PK.
  • Dallas is 13-8-2 at home.
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