Joe Pavelski collected two goals and two assists while Roope Hintz scored once in a three-point game to lead the visiting Dallas Stars to a 5-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday that kept their playoff hopes alive.
Jamie Oleksiak and Joel Kiviranta also scored for the Stars (22-18-14, 58 points), while goaltender Anton Khudobin made 25 saves.
Dallas is fifth in the Central Division, two points behind the Nashville Predators in the battle for fourth place and the final playoff spot. Both clubs have two games remaining. While the Stars close out the season with a pair of road games against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Predators have two home dates with the division-champion Carolina Hurricanes. Nashville holds the tiebreaker if the teams end up with the same amount of points.
Blake Coleman and Alex Barre-Boulet scored for the Lightning (36-15-3, 75 points), who remain tied with the Florida Panthers for second place in the division. Goalie Curtis McElhinney stopped 26 shots in the loss. Tampa and Florida close out the regular season with a pair of games against each other. The Lightning and Panthers will also meet in the first round of the playoffs, the first time the state rivals will meet in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Needing to snap a five-game losing skid to avoid elimination, the Stars received a boost when Oleksiak buried a rebound for his career-high sixth goal of the season at the 5:50 mark.
Then, Pavelski doubled the lead five minutes into the second period when he lifted a backhand while on a breakaway set up by Hintz.
After Coleman put the Lightning on the board past the midway point, Pavelski restored the two-goal edge at 13:05 of the middle frame with a tap-in tally set up by Hintz.
Hintz made it a 4-1 game with 14.9 seconds remaining in the second period with another Dallas breakaway goal, and then Kiviranta extended the lead when he buried a loose puck at 3:49 of the third period to give himself a two-point game.
Barre-Boulet’s power-play goal at 8:29 of the third period rounded out the scoring.
Earlier in the day, the Lightning announced their pair of injured star forwards Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov are expected to return for the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Stamkos has been sidelined since April 7 due to a lower body injury, while Kucherov has not played since offseason hip surgery. Neither is expected to play in their final regular season games.
–Field Level Media