Two seasons since the Stanley Cup Final, the Stars face their old rival once again

Two seasons since the Stanley Cup Final, the Stars face their old rival once again

No matter how much has changed in the 19 months since the Stars lost to the Lightning in the Stanley Cup Final, a matchup against Tampa Bay still carries significance.

Since that series, Tyler Seguin underwent surgeries on his hip and knee. Jason Robertson has emerged as one of the best players in the league, not just one of the best young players. Ben Bishop’s career ended. Anton Khudobin underwent hip surgery. Corey Perry switched teams twice, and played his first road game in Dallas since he was a member of the Stars in 2019-20.

Of the 36 skaters in the two lineups on Tuesday night, only half were in the lineup for Game 6 two years ago, and that doesn’t count Perry.

“It feels like it’s been a lifetime ago in ways, and yesterday, I guess, in ways, too,” Seguin said.

The two teams arrived Tuesday in very different places.

The Lightning had a chance to clinch a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference with a win over the Stars. The Stars, meanwhile, were trying to keep pace in an increasingly crowded Western Conference playoff race that features four teams (Dallas, Nashville, Vegas and Los Angeles) for three spots.

“It’s a great opportunity for us, close to playoffs, and this is one of those teams that you can measure and see where you’re at, where you’ve got to go, what’s missing, what’s going well,” Seguin said. “It’s a good challenge for us tonight.”

The Stars have generally risen to such challenges this season.

Of the 14 teams above the Stars in the league-wide standings, Dallas owns wins over all but two of them: Toronto and Tampa Bay. The Stars lost to the Lightning on the road in January.

Stars coach Rick Bowness said he reminded his team of their success against top teams heading into Tuesday’s game: “We’ve beaten every good team in this league at least once.”

The Stars hang the standings outside their dressing rooms in Frisco and Dallas, so they understand how much control they have over their own postseason hopes.

“We’re in the driver’s seat of our destiny and fate here,” Seguin said. “Where else would you want to be? I guess in first, but we’ll take this too. ”

Line re-assembly: Bowness put two of his most-used lines back together on Tuesday night, reuniting his checking line of Michael Raffl, Radek Faksa and Luke Glendening, while also putting Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Denis Gurianov back together.

On Sunday, Bowness broke up Benn and Seguin in Chicago. They each had a goal and an assist against the Blackhawks.

“It looks good for a game or two, or a period or two, but, like I said to you the other day, they had one good period [against Toronto] and had five bad periods [against Toronto and New Jersey], ”Bowness said. “That just doesn’t work. We need some consistency. You can’t just look good for short term. ”

According to MoneyPuck, Raffl-Faksa-Glendening is the Stars’ second most frequent line combination at 5 on 5, and Benn-Seguin-Gurianov is third.

Wedgewood in: After Jake Oettinger started both games of this past weekend’s back-to-back, Scott Wedgewood started Tuesday night against Tampa Bay. It was Wedgewood’s fourth start for the Stars since they acquired him from Arizona at the trade deadline.

“Jake’s played a lot of hockey and he needs a break,” Bowness said. “He’s going to get it tonight and go right back in there.”

The Stars host Minnesota on Thursday night. Oettinger started against and beat the Wild on March 6 in St. Paul.

Skill it up: In the wake of the recent Anaheim-Arizona controversy about Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry’s skill, and Jay Beagle’s attack of Terry, two skilled Stars talked about the evolution of offense.

“Skill’s great,” Seguin said. “I think it’s great for our game. I know there’s been a lot of different views on that kind of stuff. With where we are and where we’ve been compared to other sports, I think it’s great for the game. You got ESPN around here now. Throw that up all the time, getting new hockey fans to support the game and keep this game growing. ”

Then Seguin looked to the back of the room at Steve Levy: “Speaking of ESPN, what’s up, man?”

Robertson said he was in favor of creative goal-scoring.

“The goalies are getting better, the checking is tighter, good sticks around the net, everyone is boxing out,” Robertson said. “So whatever you can do to try to score more goals, whether that be innovative or just doing it the generic way, I’m sure all the coaches, everyone will take it.”

– Forwards Alexander Radulov and Joel Kiviranta each missed Tuesday’s game because they were sick, Bowness said. Marian Studenic returned to the lineup in Radulov’s absence.

On defense, Thomas Harley and Andrej Sekera were healthy scratches. Joel Hanley was on the third pairing in Harley’s place.

Find more Stars coverage from The Dallas Morning News here.

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