The last time the Red Wings and Stars met up this season, the Wings had their way with Andrew Raycroft in beating down the Stars 5-2. When these two get together tonight in Dallas (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN), things will be a bit different.
The Stars will be hoping that their winning ways from earlier this season have come back thanks to the return of Kari Lehtonen in goal. Lehtonen’s first game back against Boston turned out to be wildly successful, earning a 4-2 win over the defending champs. With Lehtonen’s return the Dallas defense showed up as well holding the Bruins to 20 shots on goal.
The Stars’ offense might not be huge, but they get consistent efforts out of the likes of Loui Eriksson, Brenden Morrow, Mike Ribeiro, and Jamie Benn. With a solid core like that, Dallas has enough to get things done as long as the effort is there.
Of course, they’ll have their hands full in dealing with the Wings. Detroit has won three of their last four and if it weren’t for those pesky Blackhawks, they’d be sitting well on top of the Central Division. Jimmy Howard has been stellar this season in goal with a goals against average under 2.00. Add that to the offense that Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen have put up this year and the superstar-laden Wings look as tough as ever.
Seeing how the Wings and their attack handle the ever capable Lehtonen shapes up to be the match-up worth watching in this one. Lehtonen showing he’s truly back to form will give the Stars all the reason to think they can storm their way into the playoffs.
This has been a tough postseason for Phil Kessel haters.
The supposed “choker” is on a team that’s in the Eastern Conference Final, but Kessel obviously isn’t just in for the ride with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He scored his 18th point in 17 postseason games by scoring the 1-0 goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6.
(Watch that goal in the video above.)
It was a dramatic first period, with a Jonathan Drouin goal getting disallowed and Andrei Vasilevskiy making some huge saves on tough chances.
Can Pittsburgh protect this slim lead with 1-0 down one period? We’ll see, but either way, what a great postseason for Kessel.
To start the seemingly pivotal stretch, Andrei Vasilevskiy made an outstanding save on Evgeni Malkin on what sure looked like a scary chance.
The play swiftly shifted from the Tampa Bay Lightning’s end to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ side of the ice, and it seemed like Jonathan Drouin scored a big 1-0 goal in Game 6.
As it turns out, the goal was disallowed thanks to an offside goal review.
Here are a few viewpoints on that moment in GIF form … you can get a fuller view via the video above.
The general feeling among those who don’t have a horse in the race is that it was the right call. (Lightning fans were, uh, not happy.)
At some point, it will probably be kind of boring to hear members of the Tampa Bay Lightning organization praise Jonathan Drouin.
At least if Drouin re-signs with the Bolts after quite the affirming postseason and his ascension amid injuries.
These days? It’s still sort of entertaining.
In the latest case, Jon Cooper was asked to compare the development paths for Nikita Kucherov vs. Drouin. After empathizing with the pressure Drouin carries as a high-end pick (vs. Kucherov’s ability to come in under the radar), Cooper had some very positive things to say about No. 27.
” … So many people think, well, you’re just going to step in the league at 18 and be dominant,” Cooper said. “I truly believe Jonathan is going to be dominant in this league, but it’s hard to do at 18. He had to work through it, and that’s it.”
Drouin, now at 21, has 12 points in 15 playoff games.
In other Lightning news, it sounds like the team will roll with 11 forwards and seven defensemen, an alignment that has been working well lately and also came through at times during the 2015 postseason.
The Penguins, meanwhile, replace Beau Bennett with Conor Sheary.
Tonight could be the final game of the Eastern Conference Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning. You can catch Game 6 via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.
Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay (8:00 p.m. ET)
The television broadcast of Game 6 is on NBCSN. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here. The Bolts lead the series 3-2.
Here’s some relevant reading material to get you ready for tonight’s game:
—Malkin guaranteed a Penguins win in Game 6
—Lightning coach doesn’t seem flustered by Malkin’s guarantee
—Kucherov continues to be clutch for the Bolts this postseason
—Marc-Andre Fleury: ‘I should have been better’ in Game 5