Dallas Stars vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 2nd 2023

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The Tampa Bay Lightning will match up for two games over a three-day span with the Dallas Stars starting Saturday afternoon in the Lone Star State.

For the Lightning, their season that continues to slip away from them can be defined by one word: turnovers.

Against the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday, Tampa Bay scored twice in the first period and appeared to be on the way to breaking a two-game skid after coming off a 1-2-0 three-game road swing.

But those pesky turnovers — handed over to one of the best duos in hockey — over the final 40 minutes sunk the Lightning 4-2.

Pittsburgh star forwards Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin took advantage of blue-line muffs to start scoring rushes, while Jeff Carter netted the game-winner early in the third period.

To make it all worse, Tristan Jarry became the first Penguins goaltender to score a goal, hitting the heart of the empty net with just over a minute left.

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos and coach Jon Cooper said it was all about the turnovers.

“It’s just certain times in games when we can make maybe a safer play,” said Stamkos. “Sometimes you get bailed out, sometimes it’s Crosby on a breakaway or Malkin on a two-on-one — world-class players. That was the difference tonight.”

Cooper’s club, which ended up 6-7-2 in November, will have to take a postseason approach in the remaining 58 matches.

“Would you make those decisions in a playoff game or are you making them in Game 24?” Cooper mused. “That point has hit us now: We’re going to have to treat every game like a playoff game or we won’t be there.”

Tampa Bay swept both matches last season with Dallas and has won nine of 12 meetings since 2021.

Meanwhile, Dallas had a chance to move within one point of the first-place Colorado Avalanche in the Central Division, but like the Lightning, the Stars let a win get away Thursday, though the letdown occurred much later.

Coach Pete DeBoer’s team led the majority of the third period over the Calgary Flames following Mason Marchment’s penalty-shot tally at 1:49, but the Flames’ MacKenzie Weegar evened it at 3 with 2:41 remaining.

Nazem Kadri completed the 4-3 rally with an overtime game-winner past Stars goalie Scott Wedgewood 61 seconds into the session.

Dallas closed out its two-game western Canada road trip with three points (1-0-1) and will face the Lightning in Dallas on Saturday and Tampa on Monday.

“Those momentum shifts, I would have liked to have us play with a little more pressure when we had the lead,” said DeBoer.

“We’re at the end of a road trip here and we sat back a little too much and gave them a little bit too much room. Still thought we could have closed it out.”

Added Wedgewood, “A lead with whatever, under five (minutes) to go when they scored that other one, it feels like a little bit of one that slipped away again.”

Marchment’s successful penalty shot was the first one for the team since Denis Gurianov scored on Montreal’s Carey Price on Nov. 2, 2019.

Joe Pavelski extended his point streak to eight games (five goals, four assists) for the Stars.

–Field Level Media

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