DALLAS — Roope Hintz scored a breakaway goal with 1:21 left and the Dallas Stars beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 on Thursday night for their first win in five games this season against the NHL leaders.
Hintz and Joe Pavelski each had a goal and two assists for the Stars, who lost to Tampa Bay in the Stanley Cup Final last year. Miro Heiskanen and rookie Jason Robertson also scored for Dallas.
“We needed to get those guys,” Pavelski said. “It’s been a little bit too long this year.”
Dallas trails fourth-place Chicago for the Central Division’s final playoff spot by seven points with four games in hand.
Stars coach Rick Bowness created a new top line by putting Pavelski with Hintz and Robertson, and it paid immediate dividends.
Pavelski and Hintz rank 1-2 on the team in goals (15 and 10) despite Hintz being in and out of the lineup for the past month with a lower-body injury. Robertson is second on the team with 15 assists.
“There’s certainly been chemistry between Robo and Roope all year,” Bowness said. “And Pavs, with the experience that he has and the offensive instincts he has. But again, it shows the value of having Roope in our lineup.”
Ondrej Palat had a goal and an assist for the Lightning, who had won five straight. Yanni Gourde and Alex Killorn scored the other goals for Tampa Bay, which leads second-place Carolina by three points in the Central. The Hurricanes have a game in hand.
“We weren’t mentally sharp right from the beginning,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “I’m not going sit here and pick apart everybody’s game. It was a team effort. Some guys, they had some good moments. Some guys, they didn’t.”
Andrei Vasilevskiy made 39 saves, but his franchise-record 12-game winning streak was snapped. It was Vasilevskiy’s first career loss to Dallas in regulation (8-1-3).
It was Hintz’s first career three-point game. He has points in seven of his last eight games (six goals, five assists).
Palat collected a loose puck by the crease and scored at 15:10 of the third period to tie it 3-all.
Pavelski and Robertson scored in the final 1:20 of the second period. Rookie goaltender Jake Oettinger stopped 23 shots for the Stars.
Gourde and Killorn scored off rebounds in a four-minute span early in the second. Gourde has a goal in five straight games.
Palat nearly gave the Lightning a 3-0 lead in the second, but Oettinger made a paddle save by stretching out his right arm.
“It’s just such a tough play, such a good player,” said Oettinger, who is 5-2-6. “I just tried to stay as patient as long as I could. A little bit of luck.”
Dallas rallied from a 2-0 deficit with three second-period goals, beginning with Heiskanen’s breakaway backhander that was the Stars’ first 5-on-5 score this season against Tampa Bay.
Pavelski tied it at 18:40 with his NHL-best 11th power-play goal of the season, lifted over Vasilevskiy’s right shoulder.
Robertson gave Dallas a 3-2 lead on a one-timer off a cross-slot pass from Pavelski with 15.6 seconds left in the period.
With Tampa Bay defenceman Erik Cernak sidelined after taking a shot to the knee Tuesday, the Lightning played one short with 11 forwards and six defencemen because an emergency call-up would have affected the team’s salary-cap situation.
“That’s going to happen at times,” Cooper said. “We’re not the only team that’s played short this year. It’s not ideal.”
Dallas set season highs with 41 shots and 21 in one period (the second), the latter also a season high allowed by Tampa Bay. … Robertson entered tied for third among NHL rookies with 18 points. … Lightning defenceman Ryan McDonagh missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury after playing in all of the team’s previous 31 games.
Lightning: Finish a three-game road trip Saturday against Carolina.
Stars: Begin a back-to-back home series against Florida on Saturday.
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